Jimmie Johnson escapes “scary moments” to finish on IndyCar debut

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson finished 19th on his IndyCar Series debut at Barber Motorsports Park, but admitted to two “scary moments” along the way.

Johnson, who retired from NASCAR last season after a distinguished career with Hendrick Motorsports, is running all the non-oval races this year for Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda. After qualifying 21st for his first start in America’s premier open-wheel series, he was almost taken out in the opening lap chaos caused in the aftermath of spinning frontrunner Josef Newgarden.

Having escaped that without damage, despite hitting another car, Johnson ran on the lead lap until he spun and stalled, which caused a full-course yellow during which he dropped a lap. He was then lapped again by the leaders but was classified 19th.

“Very happy to have finished,” Johnson told NBC. “There were two pretty scary moments in the race. One heading going into Turn 5 at the original start, there was chaos and I bounced off a few cars but nothing really happened [to damage my car] evidently, so that was very fortunate.

“Then I spun in traffic following someone up over the hill into Turn 13, and unfortunately I lost a lap at that point. Just a ton of learning experience throughout the day and just very thankful for this opportunity that Chip’s given me.”

Read Also:

On the subject of the physical strain on the demands of the recently-resurfaced track, Johnson replied: “I’m not bad, my left hand is about to blister. All in all, I could have gone a few more laps, I wasn’t totally taxed, the training worked out well, so I’ll heal up and be ready for St Pete.”

Team boss Chip Ganassi paid tribute to Johnson after the race, commenting: “What a great leader he is. What a great guy. It really makes me mad to know what I was up against in NASCAR for all of those years.

"Now I understand why he won seven championships, the guy’s the hardest worker I know, he never stops and he’s having a great time. He’s got a hill to climb, but he’s going to do it.”

Ganassi won the race with second-year IndyCar racer Alex Palou, who won on his first start for the team.

Johnson added: “Huge congrats to Alex, the kid is on it. He showed he can get it done today. He’s an amazing guy and to be his age, with so much talent, and so much wisdom, and speaking to him is always very impressive for me. We did have a good laugh the other day, when he informed me that I’m older than his father, so after that laugh I’ve been picking on him a bit!

“Just an amazing job today.”

shares
comments

Related video

Power: Palou’s pace, fuel mileage “blew my mind”

Previous article

Power: Palou’s pace, fuel mileage “blew my mind”

Next article

IndyCar’s newest winner Palou “in love” with Dixon, Johnson

IndyCar’s newest winner Palou “in love” with Dixon, Johnson
Load comments
The winners and losers in IndyCar 2021 – Mid-season review Prime

The winners and losers in IndyCar 2021 – Mid-season review

At the halfway point in the 2021 NTT IndyCar Series season, we've had seven winners in eight races, spread between five teams – none of them Team Penske. In this unusual season, even by IndyCar standards, who’s excelling and who’s dragging their heels? David Malsher-Lopez reports.

IndyCar
Jun 18, 2021
The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness Prime

The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness

Long-awaited wins for ex-Formula 1 drivers Marcus Ericsson and Kevin Magnussen in IndyCar and IMSA last weekend gave F1 a reminder of what it is missing. But with the new rules aimed at levelling the playing field, there’s renewed optimism that more drivers can have a rewarding result when their day of days comes

Formula 1
Jun 17, 2021
Castroneves: How I kept it under control to make Indy 500 history Prime

Castroneves: How I kept it under control to make Indy 500 history

Helio Castroneves’ overwhelming vivaciousness outside the cockpit belies a hardcore racer who knows how to plot his moves – and then recall it all for us. A day after his fourth Indy 500 win, Helio explained his tactics to David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Jun 2, 2021
How 'chess master' Castroneves cemented his Indy legend status Prime

How 'chess master' Castroneves cemented his Indy legend status

Helio Castroneves joined AJ Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears with the most Indianapolis 500 wins after sweeping around the outside of Alex Palou on the penultimate lap in a thrilling climax. In one race, he validated Michael Shank's and Jim Meyer's faith in him, and Helio himself discovered there's life after Penske after all.

IndyCar
Jun 1, 2021
Indy 500 preview: Will experience or youth be victorious? Prime

Indy 500 preview: Will experience or youth be victorious?

A quarter of the drivers racing in the 105th edition of the Indianapolis 500 are former winners - but are they the favourites? The veteran drivers largely impressed in qualifying - but there's also a plethora of young guns looking to secure victory at IndyCar's flagship race...

IndyCar
May 25, 2021
What will it take to get American drivers in Formula 1? Prime

What will it take to get American drivers in Formula 1?

The FIA says it wants American drivers in Formula 1, but would it take an IndyCar driver to transfer or does an American need to join the European junior ladder system to get there? By David Malsher-Lopez.

Formula 1
May 19, 2021
Why IndyCar is satisfying Grosjean’s appetite for his second life Prime

Why IndyCar is satisfying Grosjean’s appetite for his second life

After spending the majority of his 179-race Formula 1 career in middling to tail-end machinery, Romain Grosjean finds himself once again with an underdog team in IndyCar. While not without its challenges, he's relishing the more level playing field that means his Dale Coyne Racing crew can expect to claim a few scalps...

IndyCar
May 14, 2021
Why IndyCar's new aero parts should improve racing at Indy Prime

Why IndyCar's new aero parts should improve racing at Indy

Tino Belli, IndyCar’s director of aerodynamic development, believes the changes to the underside of the cars will allow them to run closer at Indy and make passes. The moment of truth comes on its biggest stage, writes David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
May 10, 2021