What’s next for Jimmie Johnson’s 2023 racing schedule? Questions, Answers and Analysis

Jimmie Johnson 2023

Jimmie Johnson 2023

MONTEREY, Calif. – With the return of sponsor Carvana, Jimmie Johnson knows he’ll be racing in 2023 but now needs to figure out where, with IndyCar, IMSA and possibly NASCAR among the options.

On the eve of the final race of his first full NTT IndyCar Series season, Johnson told reporters Friday at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca that “Carvana has my back on everything I want to do for 2023” after speaking out about the Return has welcomed multi-million dollar investments over the past two seasons. The online car dealer has made a massive publicity push behind Johnson

“They see such great value in being a part of the IndyCar Series, the cars I drive, the series I’m involved with, that ultimately they will support the path that I will choose 23. ” he said.

INDYCAR AT LAGUNA SECA: Details, season finale schedules on NBC

It’s the third year in a row that Johnson will complete his racing plans in the third quarter, but with some key twists. Unlike the past two years, when IndyCar and the Rolex 24 took center stage at Daytona (along with other IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship endurance races), Johnson’s schedule for next year seems wide open. And he has more time to plan his next moves than last year, when he and Carvana only finalized plans in December.

“I wish I had more to share,” Johnson said when asked what he plans to do next year. “I got this news in September compared to December last year. My typical journey, especially at IndyCar, is when the season ends and I take some time to figure out what I really want to do. Explore the options I have before me. And then make a decision.

“I feel very good to have this news and to know that what I offer is what Chip Ganassi Racing offers. What the show is about, Carvana wants to be back. They are willing to support a full IndyCar schedule if I choose to do so. So now it’s time to go home and really look inside myself and figure out what my personal and professional goals are. Spend some time talking to the girls about it and making some decisions.”

As Johnson prepares to ponder the next chapter of his eventful career with his wife, two daughters and business team, here are some pressing questions (and analysis) about the seven-time NASCAR Cup Series Champion’s plans in 23:

Q: What are the odds of Johnson driving in IndyCar next season?

A: Virtually 100 percent, although Johnson didn’t confirm it on Friday. It makes sense he’s withholding details as Carvana’s involvement was “new” and Chip Ganassi Racing will need time to nail down his plans depending on whether Johnson decides to race part-time or full-time. During his part-time 2021 season, Johnson raced road and street courses while Tony Kanaan raced the #48 Dallara-Honda on ovals.

Ganassi might be interested in a similar program next year, but it might also be possible to race the car as an Indy 500 one-off or maybe just on ovals (like Ed Carpenter Racing is doing with its third car).

Johnson said team owner Chip Ganassi was involved in the Carvana talks.

“That has yet to be decided,” Johnson said when asked about his IndyCar plans. “I love being here. i want to be here I think the other piece of that puzzle is Chip Ganassi Racing and the support of Chip and everyone internally. It’s just taking some time to really set the schedule that I want for 2023.”

Q: Why would Johnson pull back from a full-time season?

A: Though IndyCar’s 17-race schedule is half the length of NASCAR’s 36-race roster, Johnson still found it almost as grueling. He’s joked for the past year that he’s traveled and worked almost as much since retiring from stock car racing.

“This year has been more of a full-time commitment than I anticipated,” Johnson said. “I don’t know where my IMSA plans are, I don’t know exactly where my IndyCar plans are. I want to go to Le Mans. There are other goals that I have in life, both privately and professionally. Just go through my normal process, take a little time, digest it. Meet with Team Johnson, find out what works.”

An ovals-only schedule might also be more appealing to Johnson, who finished a career-best fifth at Iowa Speedway on July 24 and said his 11thth in Iowa the day before was the highlight of his 2022 season.

“It’s all part of the process,” Johnson said when asked if he would definitely return to the Indy 500. “I feel like I just need to lay the dust on the season and figure out what my personal and professional goals are.”

Q: What about sports cars and the 24 Hours of Le Mans?

A: Johnson is considered a prime driver line-up candidate for the Garage 56 at the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans (the next-generation purpose-built Camaro will be fielded jointly by Hendrick Motorsports and NASCAR).

He has also finished second at the Rolex 24 at Daytona three times and a win at the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Classic remains high on his wish list. Because driving the #48 Cadillac (funded by Ally, his former sponsor at NASCAR) reunites him with his former crew chief (Hendrick Motorsports VP of Competition Chad Knaus), Johnson enjoys competing in IMSA endurance events.

He missed the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring in March because of an IndyCar conflict earlier this year and has been eagerly awaiting IndyCar to release its 2023 schedule.

If Le Mans or Sebring comes into conflict with IndyCar, that would play into Johnson’s decision.

“That’s another element of this whole set of options I have in front of me,” he said. “It’s just another one of those options that I need to look at and spend some time on over the coming weeks.”

Q: Could NASCAR be one of those options?

A: Johnson didn’t initially mention Cup or Xfinity races as a possibility. But when he was told fans would like to see him race at North Wilkesboro Speedway (Home of the 2023 All-Star race), he smiled and said It could be an option. (Though NASCAR regularly changes its eligibility and formats for All-Star races, there would certainly be room for Johnson if he decides to run the much-anticipated short-track event.)

He hasn’t made any NASCAR starts since the 2020 Cup finale at Phoenix Raceway, but Johnson was open to a one-time start (and maybe a try at driving the next-gen car that made its debut this year).

Q: What is Carvana’s budget for Johnson’s 2023 season?

A: Johnson said there had been “no talks yet” on specific numbers, but Johnson spoke with the confidence of someone with substantial backing. While he won’t have a blank check, it seems clear that Carvana would have expenses similar to this season.

Q: What else could affect Johnson’s 2023 schedule?

A: Johnson, who turns 47 later this month, hinted that “new options are developing for me that I need to look at closely as well.” Pressing for details, Johnson said they were “good options” in motorsport.

But he will also weigh possible implications for his family, which was a big influence on his decision to race ovals this season. His wife Chandra is considering expanding their art gallery and he actively supports the interests of his daughters Genevieve (12) and Lydia (9).

“We also have some personal goals,” he said. “We would like to live abroad for a year. There are just a lot of elements that play a role.

“I feel very fortunate to have had my serious car racing career and this is really about the experience. As well as the professional opportunities that I have at 23, I want to look at the personal opportunities for myself and my family and just need a few to organize.”

What’s next for Jimmie Johnson’s 2023 racing schedule? Questions, Answers and Analysis originally appeared on NBCSports.com

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.