IndyCar: Jimmie Johnson’s advice to NASCAR fans

Jimmie Johnson, Chip Ganassi Racing, IndyCar, Indy 500, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, Chip Ganassi Racing, IndyCar, Indy 500, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /

Jimmie Johnson gave some advice to the diehard NASCAR fans who watched him compete in stock cars for decades but may not be into IndyCar.

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson made his IndyCar debut at Barber Motorsports Park last April after retiring from Cup Series competition and signing a two-year deal to compete in the road and street course races for Chip Ganassi Racing behind the wheel of the #48 Honda, with primary sponsorship from Carvana.

The addition of a seven-time Cup Series champion to the IndyCar lineup naturally drew in some new fans to the highest level of American open-wheel racing, given NASCAR’s popularity in the United States.

And thanks to Tony Kanaan, who had signed the same two-year deal to drive the #48 Honda in the oval races, Johnson is now a full-time driver.

While Kanaan had been slated to run the oval races again this year on the second year of his deal, he gave up that role to Johnson, who made his IndyCar oval debut at Texas Motor Speedway with an impressive sixth place finish back in March.

Johnson is set to make his Indy 500 debut in this Sunday’s 106th running of the race.

Kanaan, the 2004 IndyCar champion and 2013 Indy 500 winner, found additional sponsorship to land an Indy 500 one-off ride with Chip Ganassi Racing instead.

But Johnson knows that not all of the diehard stock car fans who watched him dominate the sport for two decades are as interested in IndyCar as they are in NASCAR.

His biggest message to that group of fans? Give it a try.

“I guess I would say give it a try,” Johnson told Beyond the Flag when he spoke about the transition during his rookie season.

And he wasn’t just talking about flipping on the channel on a Sunday afternoon.

“Come and experience one in person,” he continued. “TV does a great job of capturing the sport, but the energy at an IndyCar race — the noise, the sounds, the sights, the smell — all of those touchpoints of IndyCar are just different.

“I think it’s a nice change of pace and the fact that IndyCar is so focused on the fan experience. I think that our NASCAR fans would really enjoy a change of pace and would enjoy an IndyCar race.”

That advice still holds true amid Johnson’s first full season in the sport, especially when you consider what he himself is about to try this Sunday afternoon.

He qualified in 12th place for the 200-lap race around the four-turn, 2.5-mile (4.023-kilometer) Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval in Speedway, Indiana last weekend, placing him on the outside of the fourth row for the start.

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The “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” is set to be broadcast live on NBC beginning at 11:00 a.m. ET this Sunday, May 29. So give it a try if you haven’t already. There are still tickets available, but if you can’t make it, be sure to take advantage of FuboTV’s free trial offer for new customers now!