Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Jimmie Johnson ‘Eagerly Awaiting’ 2023 IndyCar Schedule for Possible Le Mans Run with Hendrick Garage 56 Entry

Jimmie Johnson at Road America.
Jimmie Johnson is eyeing a run at Le Mans 24 next year. Image courtesy of Chris Owens / Penske Entertainment

Jimmie Johnson is planning on having a busy 2023.

The 46-year-old California native still remains keen on competing in the NTT IndyCar Series and running a partial campaign in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, but also hopes to add the Le Mans 24 to next year’s commitments.

During a media availability on Tuesday morning ahead of this weekend’s IMSA endurance round at Watkins Glen, where he will co-drive the No. 48 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi with Kamui Kobayashi and Mike Rockenfeller, Johnson expressed a desire to drive Hendrick’s Garage 56 entry at the 100th edition of Le Mans 24, which is scheduled for June 10-11, 2023.

“I’m still eagerly awaiting the (IndyCar) schedule,” said Johnson, a three-time runner-up in the Rolex 24 At Daytona. “I’m pushing behind the scenes to Jay Fry (IndyCar president) and others to try to understand what the schedule might be. I want to go to Le Mans. It would be an amazing experience to go with Hendrick and Action Express and the way this whole partnership works. But I think so much hinges on the schedule being released to understand if I can and from the team standpoint what drivers would be at the top of their list. So, I’m thankful to have had a few conversations with them and I know that there’s interest. I certainly have a ton of interest to do it. We’re just waiting for that first domino to fall.”

In March, it was announced that Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports and NASCAR would enter a modified version, including hybrid power, of the Next-Gen Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 at Le Mans next year, marking the first stock car attempt since 1976. Garage 56 was introduced Garage 56 in 2012, with the lone entry reserved for innovative cars that allow testing for new technology.

Taking on a driving role of the entry would be somewhat of a homecoming for Johnson, who earned 83 victories and seven NASCAR Cup Series championship during his time at Hendrick Motorsports. Additionally, there would be familiarity as Chad Knaus, Johnson’s crew chief during his time in NASCAR, is overseeing the effort.

“I feel like the interest is really high on both sides,” Johnson said. “We haven’t been able to talk anything more formal because the schedule is not out.”

Johnson, who ran a partial schedule in IndyCar last year before opting to add ovals and go full-time this season, confirmed that he has every intention of committing to a full campaign in North America’s premier open-wheel championship again in 2023

“Absolutely,” Johnson said. “What I’ve been doing has been so much fun and enjoyable. I continue to get better and certainly hope to do something similar next year.”

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