With seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson set to test for the Arrow McLaren SP IndyCar team, could he end up driving part-time in 2021?
Jimmie Johnson confirmed in November following the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series season that the 2020 season will be his 19th and final season as a full-time driver and mark his fourth and final attempt to become the sport’s lone eight-time champion.
But the seven-time champion also stated that he would not be completely stepping away from racing, and he still has no plans to stop competing.
The 44-year-old El Cajon, California native has stated on multiple occasions that he would like to try IndyCar and compete in some of the road and street course races in the future once he is no longer tied to the #48 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports on a weekly basis.
Suffice it to say that Johnson is well on his way to making that happen.
On Wednesday, he confirmed that he is set to test a Chevrolet-powered IndyCar for Arrow McLaren SP at Barber Motorsports next month. It was later confirmed that he is set to do so on Monday, April 6, the day after the IndyCar race at the track.
Arrow McLaren SP were formed last August when Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, a Honda-powered team at the time, formed a partnership with Formula 1 team McLaren, ended their contract with Honda a year early and switched to Chevrolet engines for 2020.
Arrow McLaren SP field two full-time cars, the #5 Chevrolet for 2018 Indy Lights champion Patricio O’Ward and the #7 Chevrolet for the 2019 Indy Lights champion Oliver Askew, and they are set to field a third entry, the #66 Chevrolet, for two-time Formula 1 champion Fernando Alonso in the Indianapolis 500 this May.
This ride does not include any confirmed races for Johnson, but Arrow McLaren SP has been the most heavily rumored landing spot for him should he end up competing in America’s premier open-wheel racing series.
Johnson and McLaren CEO Zak Brown are close friends, and Johnson recently attended IndyCar Spring Training at Circuit of the Americas through an invitation from McLaren. He also participated in a Formula 1/NASCAR ride swap with Alonso at Bahrain International Circuit back in November of 2018.
Additionally, Arrow McLaren SP’s alignment with Chevrolet is worth noting since throughout his entire NASCAR career, Johnson only ever drove for Chevrolet.
There have also been talks of Alonso potentially competing in more than just the Indy 500 for Arrow McLaren SP this year, hinting that they could have a third car readily available for select events.
In a rather under the radar move, the team also acquired the number 48 from Dreyer & Reinbold Racing for Johnson’s test. Would they really acquire a number from a team with no intention of anything beyond a test?
Could this test and Jimmie Johnson’s prior relationship with Chevrolet and McLaren lead to him landing a ride with the team for some of the road and street course races on the 2021 IndyCar schedule? With all things considered, it looks like that is the goal that these parties have in mind given how this situation is currently playing out.