While NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin once said he would love to compete in IndyCar, that is no longer on his radar as much as it had been.
Over the last few years, there has been a lot of discussion about drivers from various racing series crossing over to run races in other series, and that talk reached an all-time high when it was announced in September 2020 that seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson had signed a two-year deal with Chip Ganassi Racing’s IndyCar program.
The El Cajon, California native ran every road and street course race throughout the 2021 season, and he added ovals to his schedule for 2022.
His venture into America’s top level of open-wheel competition is something which he had long talked about wanting to do after wrapping up his career as a full-time Cup Series driver. He retired from Cup Series competition after the 2020 season.
Another driver who has previously discussed his desire to compete in IndyCar is Denny Hamlin, who has run full-time in the Cup Series since 2006 and added a new role as a Cup Series team owner last year.
Hours after Johnson’s deal was announced, we asked Hamlin if IndyCar is something that interests him once he no longer competes full-time at NASCAR’s top level.
"“It is. I’d probably be more interested on the oval side of things than the street course side of things. I like road course racing, but I like our cars for that because we’re able to make contact, where those things, I mean, if you bump wheels, you damage the car and you’re done. I would like to try to run IndyCar or something like that or even an F1 car, but I don’t foresee it happening while I’m still racing in NASCAR for sure.”"
However, speaking again to Beyond the Flag last month, Hamlin admitted that this isn’t on his radar as much anymore, given his new venture as a Cup Series team owner.
“I would say probably not as much anymore,” he stated. “I think when I’m done driving, I probably will be done driving. I mean, I could see myself doing a few one-offs here and there, whether it be NASCAR races or something in the short track ranks. But I’ve gotta shift my focus to the race team once I’m done driving. I think that that’s my long-term future, that’s where I’ve invested. So I have to give it the proper time that it needs.”
He also discussed the fact that he doesn’t believe he will be able to jump into a new form of racing once he is done competing in NASCAR.
“I just think that once I’m done here, I will be done because there is a reason behind that,” he admitted. “It will be because I think that I’m not as good as I once was. And so until that day happens, and if that day happens, I don’t think that I’ll want to try something completely new because likely if I wasn’t good enough in my own sport, I probably won’t be good enough in someone else’s.”
As for Johnson, he made his IndyCar oval debut at Texas Motor Speedway in March and finished in an impressive sixth place, and he is set to make his Indy 500 debut this Sunday, May 29 after qualifying in 12th. The 106th running of the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” is set to be broadcast live from Indianapolis Motor Speedway on NBC beginning at 11:00 a.m. ET (full starting lineup here), so start your free trial of FuboTV now!