NASCAR's Jimmie Johnson eyes IndyCar road course race after F1 test

Jonathan Noble and David Malsher
Autosport
Johnson wants to try IndyCar road course race
Johnson wants to try IndyCar road course race

Seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Jimmie Johnson says he is interested in contesting IndyCar races but would prefer to try a road course rather than an oval.

Johnson tried a Formula 1 car for the first time on Monday in a drive-swap event with Fernando Alonso in Bahrain, sampling a 2013 McLaren-Mercedes while Alonso tried his NASCAR Hendrick Chevrolet.

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Asked if single-seater racing was of interest after the test, Johnson replied: "Without a doubt".

He acknowledged that he had received plenty of offers for the Indianapolis 500, but would prefer to try IndyCar in a different way and plans to pursue it.

"2020 is my last year under contract with Hendrick, and I've been approached many times about the Indy 500," said Johnson, whose hero in his youth was IndyCar legend Rick Mears.

"I'm not overly excited about those fast ovals, but I think with my status and relationships I could put together some road course races in IndyCar.

"I've done sportscar racing in the past, I've finished second in the Rolex 24 [Daytona 24 Hours, pictured below in 2008] a couple of times in the Prototype division, I'd love to get back to doing that. Anything's open.

Johnson wants to try IndyCar road course race
Johnson wants to try IndyCar road course race

"I'm far from done, I want to keep driving and hopefully I can find some good opportunities."

Johnson who, like Mears started his four-wheel career in off-road racing, suggested the last time he had tried an open-wheel car before the F1 test had been a "single-seater desert buggy [with] a 1600cc Volkswagen engine in it - maybe in '94."

He believes drivers should get chances to become more versatile.

"I feel like drivers at a young age have to decide if they're going to drive sedans or open-wheel cars," he said.

"I don't know if it's right for that judgment to take place.

"I look back at some of my heroes - Parnelli Jones, Mario [Andretti], Dan Gurney, Emmo [Fittipaldi] - they raced anything.

"And I don't know where that got lost. In the '80s or '90s, it was 'You're just open wheel and you're just sedan.' I don't know why that's there.

"I feel like an open-minded driver - and one that's ready to work - could cross and go either direction.

"We've seen quite a few open-wheel guys try NASCAR and they've been competitive.

"I don't think there's been as many victories as some would have thought, but they've been competitive.

"No one has gone the other way. So I would love to see somebody go the other way."

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