Jimmie Johnson has an opportunity to be in a league of his own at the end of 500 miles at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
A legendary career already in NASCAR, the 46-year-old’s seven Cup titles are tied with Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty for most all-time. Additionally, two of his 83 wins came in the Daytona 500. However, if he should turn a rookie start into victory at the 106th Running of the Indianapolis 500, he would also join A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti as the only drivers to win both the Daytona 500 and Indy 500.
Starting 12th in the No. 48 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, Johnson was asked by TobyChristie.com how he processes the opportunity to be a link between the two worlds.
“Yeah, I wasn’t aware of the opportunity in being one of three,” said Johnson, who finished sixth in his only other oval IndyCar start at Texas Motor Speedway in March. “I knew some of my heroes dabbled in NASCAR and certainly won these marquee events. Growing up, you know, my grandfather, my father would tell me stories about these guys that have these famous names. I mean, so well it would they would travel all around the world and just take their helmet and were competitive anywhere they raced. So, as a young racer, that was a skill that I wanted to have. That was something I wanted to emulate.
“Racing has changed quite a bit over the years and championships really are the way the world works now. So I do feel that where I sit now and the fact that I’ve been able to come to IndyCar and I’ve been able to moonlight in IMSA and chase some of these marquee events, I am doing something that I wanted to do when I was younger, and I am emulating these heroes that I had when I was young in some way, shape or form.
“With all that said, I know there’s an opportunity here, I hope to maximize it. It would be just an incredible honor, an incredible accomplishment if I was able to do so. And I really do feel like I have a chance. You know, everybody’s given me a great race car and we know how much speed that Chip Ganassi Racing has had. We’ll just see how the 500 miles go and what opportunities are out there for me.”
While this is Johnson’s maiden run in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” he hopes it won’t be the last.
“Man, I’m loving this experience,” Johnson said. “I’m loving IndyCar. I would stick around as long as I could. I don’t know what that number would be. I hope this isn’t my one and only Indianapolis 500 start. I hope this isn’t my one and only full-time season in the IndyCar Series either. I don’t know what that looks like, but I’m going to do everything in my power to continue doing this for years to come.”