Trackhouse Racing Team expanded the NASCAR world with their recent PROJECT91 announcement. But their 2023 lineup should include a familiar name.
Trackhouse Racing Team have risen to the top of the NASCAR Cup Series in a short manner of time, having gone from a single-car team in their debut season last year to a two-car stable in 2022 — and with two wins, plus a locked-up playoff berth.
What team co-owner Justin Marks has been able to form in less than two years has been nothing shy of incredible. Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez have found stable rides in the #1 Chevrolet and the #99 Chevrolet, and most recently, a major announcement in PROJECT91 paved way for former Formula 1 world champion Kimi Raikkonen to return to the sport for the first time since 2011.
PROJECT91 aims to serve as a bridge between NASCAR and international forms of motorsport, and that is exactly what it has done with a blockbuster signing to start. Raikkonen is slated to be the only driver of the #91 Chevrolet this season, competing in the August race at the eight-turn, 2.454-mile (3.949-kilometer) Watkins Glen International road course in Watkins Glen, New York.
But heading into the 2023 Cup Series season, Trackhouse Racing would be remiss to exclude a huge NASCAR name from PROJECT91.
While bridging the gap between motorsports is a respectable vision, selling tickets is going to be the major goal. Trackhouse Racing Team could do just that by signing seven-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson for one particular race.
Johnson retired from Cup Series competition following the 2020 Cup Series season, but he now competes full-time in IndyCar for Chip Ganassi Racing, the same team Trackhouse Racing Team bought out after the 2021 NASCAR season.
Not only are the connections there, but the desire from Johnson and a date in mind are, too.
He recently stated that he wants to return to NASCAR and run the Memorial Day Double in 2023, which would entail running both the Indy 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Johnson made his Indy 500 debut on Sunday afternoon and finished in 28th place after crashing with seven laps to go.
He added that he had an opportunity to attempt the Memorial Day Double earlier in his career with Team Penske when Honda was the only IndyCar engine manufacturer. However, he didn’t fully know the logistics of completing the deal.
Amid the announcement of PROJECT91, Trackhouse Racing Team would be the perfect fit for Jimmie Johnson.
He wouldn’t be able to compete for Hendrick Motorsports, the team with which he spent his entire 19-year Cup Series career, due to NASCAR’s limits of four cars per team, a rule that was ironically started after Hendrick Motorsports fielded a fifth car for Chase Elliott in select races in 2015.
But this third Trackhouse Racing Team entry is perfectly designed for drivers such as Johnson, and it could give him the opportunity to become just the fifth driver — and first since 2014 — to attempt the Memorial Day Double, despite the fact that he will have spent more than two years out of NASCAR by then.
Johnson further added that he thinks more NASCAR drivers should attempt the feat, and Kyle Larson comes to mind. Larson has shown interest in doing it, adding to the long list of drivers of who could attempt it.
Additionally, Jimmie Johnson would re-unite with Chevrolet, his longtime manufacturer in the Cup Series. With Trackhouse Racing Team seemingly being the most competitive team outside of Hendrick Motorsports, they stand as the ideal landing spot for Johnson to fulfill his dream of racing the Memorial Day Double in 2023.