Jimmie Johnson is still pushing to race at Le Mans in the 2023 plans

Jimmie Johnson is still “driving behind the scenes” with plans to make his 24 Hours of Le Mans debut in 2023 with the Next Gen Camaro led by NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports.

The seven-time Cup Series champion said Tuesday morning that he is “eagerly” awaiting confirmation of the schedule of the 2023 NTT IndyCar Series, which is expected to open this weekend to allow for the crossover to the popular endurance race in France. Next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans will be held on June 10-11, which is two weeks after the 107th Indy 500.

“I want to go to Le Mans; it will be an amazing experience to go along with Hendrick and Action Express and how this whole partnership works, ”Johnson said.“ But I think a lot really depends on the (IndyCar) schedule being released to understand if I can, and also from the team’s perspective, what drivers are at the top of their list. So I am thankful that I talked to them, and I know there is interest. I certainly have a ton of interest in doing this. We’re just waiting for your first domino to fall.

“I feel the interest is really high on both sides. We have not been able to talk more formally because there is no schedule yet. ”

IMSA AND WATKINS GLEN: How to watch, information for Round 3 of the 2022 Michelin Endurance Cup

Since the project was announced in March, team owner Rick Hendrick has prominently mentioned Johnson as the main candidate for the expected entry into Garage 56 at Le Mans next year.

The program will be overseen by Hendrick vice president of motorsports Chad Knaus, and the crew chief for Johnson’s seven Cup titles also attended this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans two weeks ago. The race drew several executives from IMSA, Chevrolet and Hendrick (including Chief Operating Officer Jeff Gordon, who is also on Hendrick’s list of potential drivers) for meetings about Garage 56 entry, the president said. IMSA’s John Doonan on NBC Sports to be approved in January.

Johnson is still finalizing his racing schedule for 2023, but he hopes it will include the same lineup this year – a full IndyCar season and an endurance race schedule in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Series. Last month before his Indy 500 debut, Johnson said it would probably be a few months before he would know more about the possible return of sponsor Carvana with his No. 48 Dallara-Honda to IndyCar.

Since the main prototype DPi class will be replaced by the new LMDh platform in the rebranded GTP category next year, there are some questions about whether there will be enough chassis available for part-time programs such as of No. 48 Ally Cadillac already fielded. for Johnson of Action Express over the past two years.

“I think it’s allowing schedule, allowing opportunity,” Johnson said. “There’s a jolt next year within sports car racing, I’m not sure the dust has really fixed yet to understand where the opportunities might lie. I’m still thinking in the next month or two, there will be more clarity for myself and a few others out there. How this series really comes together and we know the cars and seats and opportunities that are there. “

Johnson dismissed a recent report that he may only consider ovals at IndyCar next year.

“I’m not sure where that came from; it’s not yet in any of the discussions I have or the thought processes I have, ”said Johnson, who is in his first full season of IndyCar after running road and street courses in 2021.“ What I do is so super fun and enjoyable. Keep improving. Definitely hoping to do the same thing again next year.

“I’m not sure where that came from; it’s not yet in any of the discussions I have or the thought processes I have, ”said Johnson, who is in his first full season of IndyCar after running road and street courses in 2021.“ What I do is so super fun and enjoyable. Keep improving. Definitely hoping to do the same thing again next year.

Chad Knaus spoke with Jimmie Johnson and Kamui Kobayashi before the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January (Brett Farmer/IMSA).

After a three -month hiatus, Johnson will jump to No. 48 Ally Cadillac at Watkins Glen International this weekend with teammates Mike Rockenfeller and Kamui Kobayashi.

The three last dived in a Rolex 24 in Daytona, where an overnight crash ended their bid to a victory. Because of IndyCar’s race at Texas Motor Speedway, Johnson missed the car’s final start at Sebring International Raceway, (where No. 48 finished sixth along with Kobayashi, Rockenfeller and Jose Maria Lopez).

Although Kobayashi has a strong relationship with Toyota (as manager of its World Endurance Championship team), Johnson hopes to stay in partnership with IMSA with Rockenfeller and Kobayashi because they are “two great people and great people to be with.

“I really don’t feel good about things,” Johnson said. “I feel that Action has helped Kamui navigate the Toyota conflict, and we’ve been able to do that for a number of years, so I’m confident if given the chance, we’ll be able to find out. Rocky’s schedule is pretty open. I know we all want to stay together, and I feel, behind the scenes, the political pieces, we can fix that. It’s just about the cars that are available to drive. Still vague. I think we’ll have a better idea next month or what opportunities there might be. ”

Johnson is also confident of keeping Ally, who also sponsored him in the Cup Series and remains Alex Bowman’s main supporter with No. 48 of Hendrick (giving Knaus and other team members entry into the Action Express Michelin Endurance Cup).

“The relationship with (Ally) is rock solid,” Johnson said. “We’re still on stage with IndyCar, sports car or any other idea I have to go with racing. All right now is people are just starting to talk about options. Usually the end of the summer, it’s the beginning of the fall when the paper starts to move and people are looking to ink things and do it. We’re just early in the cycle, and I’m definitely trying to keep my options open. “

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.