Jimmie Johnson on being a 45-year-old IndyCar rookie: 'It's a totally different world'

The seven-time NASCAR Sprint Cup series champion spoke to Yahoo Sports' Nick Bromberg about his transition to open-wheel racing - which begins this Sunday as the IndyCar season begins. Jimmie joined Yahoo Sports thanks to Pataday® Once Daily Relief Extra Strength allergy eye drops.

Video Transcript

NICK BROMBERG: Hey, everyone. I'm Nick Bromberg with Yahoo Sports. I am joined today by seven-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson on behalf of Pataday once-daily relief extra strength allergy eye drops. Jimmy is getting ready for the first IndyCar race of his career on Sunday as the IndyCar series starts the 2021 season at Barber Motorsports Park. You can catch the race live on NBC at 3:00 PM Eastern.

Jimmy, what's your anticipation level like entering this season compared to previous NASCAR seasons?

JIMMY JOHNSON: Yeah, it's really high. I mean, obviously, there's many things to consider here starting the season and how many new things that I have in front of me in the IndyCar space versus NASCAR. Just really trying to be prepared from as simple as my allergy issues all the way through to procedures, systems, cars. It's just a totally different world. And it's crazy to say at 45, I feel like I'm an absolute rookie starting in the IndyCar series, just because it's so different.

NICK BROMBERG: So what's success for you like, both Sunday and then as you progress throughout the season on all the road courses?

JIMMY JOHNSON: I've had, I guess, five days in total in an Indy car. Four of those were proper test sessions. And from a growth standpoint, I've come very far in the environments that I've been able to simulate in a test session with a single car. But there's still so much more to a race weekend that I haven't experienced. And rolling into Barber, I get to try it all for the first time.

So I'm happy with my progress. But there's still a lot of first times ahead of me.

NICK BROMBERG: Have you prepared yourself for the butterflies you're going to feel before the green flag falls on Sunday?

JIMMY JOHNSON: Yeah. I feel like life and my first cup start and my first pro start, I've had a lot of big firsts along the way that will help. This is totally new. And there will be new butterflies and emotions. But the nice thing is I've been here before in some way in the past. So I'm going to carry that life experience into it.

NICK BROMBERG: I think you and Scott Dixon, with your 13 combined titles, are probably the most successful pair of teammates ever in modern North American motorsports. How do you translate it to somebody who's been watching IndyCar before and they have an idea of Scott Dixon? Scott Dixon feels like the guy who's always there at the end, doesn't seem like he's so aggressive because he just always shows up. He doesn't make the wild passes, it seems like. But yet he's the six-time champion, the defending champion. How do you explain to him and translate his greatness to the casual fan who just maybe sees him as a boring type of dominant driver, for lack of a better term?

JIMMY JOHNSON: Yeah, I feel like I've had to fight through that in my career. It never was as easy as it looked or as boring as some may have thought. And from being around Scott just for six months now in a much closer perspective of what he does, he's so good. He makes it look easy.

And then I guess that's really the bottom line in it all. And I've always had a great deal of respect for him. But now, getting to look behind the veil, it's all the more impressive.

NICK BROMBERG: And finally, how have the Pataday eye drops helped you get ready for the season?

JIMMY JOHNSON: I have really suffered with seasonal allergies my entire professional career. And I've been able to help myself in some instances. But the majority of the time, my eyes are really itchy. And I suffer from that.

So the drops have really changed the game for me. We're in the start of allergy season right now. And itchy eyes are going on and taking place. And now that Pataday is over-the-counter available, not only is it changing my world, but it'll change everybody else's world out there.

NICK BROMBERG: Awesome. Well, thanks for joining us, Jimmy. And a reminder, you can catch Jimmy and the rest of the IndyCar series field Sunday, April 18 at Barber Motorsports Park. Thanks a bunch, Jimmy.