FORT WORTH, Texas. — Jimmie Johnson completed his first test of an IndyCar on an oval circuit on Monday at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.
Johnson, a seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion who has run on the Texas tri-oval several times in a stock car, said that that there were many new things to learn about driving an IndyCar at full speed on the track. But, through all of that, he said he felt “right at home.”
“I think it went really well, just working me into things,” Johnson said. “The adjustments you make on the race car, from the Cup car to the IndyCar, are the same. The mechanical pieces to it … all the things that we play with … they’re the same.”
This IndyCar season Johnson has restricted himself to only running street and road course races with Chip Ganassi Racing.
Johnson was able to run consistent laps well over 200 miles-per-hour, and in fact, would have qualified fourth in the field of the previous IndyCar Texas race. Still, he feels some work was left on the table in the test thanks to the hot conditions of the track. But, Johnson is able to work with the positives of the tough conditions.
“Tire ware was pretty bad,” said Johnson. “We thought we could get 50 laps out of one set of tires, but the tire degradation was a lot hire. Looking back now I think it was really good for me to get a sense of the car and put up fast lap times in those conditions feels good as well.”
Looking ahead, Johnson said he has taken a step forward in his decision-making process into whether or not he wants to run ovals in IndyCar in the future.
“There are more conversations to be had, with family, team, and sponsors, and at least another test session out ahead of me before I can really make a decision,” Johnson said. “But driving the car yesterday only piqued my interest more.”
Johnson’s interest in ovals for the moment only extends as far as a possible effort to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 in 2022. IndyCar is planning to hold a post-season tire test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in October, a hard date yet to be determined.
But, if everything lines up, there will be an opportunity for him to go through and complete his required rookie orientation program during that test session.
“The next logical step to run the 500 would be to run the R-O-P,” he said. “There are still a couple layers to it. Car, crew, how does that all work out? We have the deal with Carvana, are they willing to expand to a third car? We don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves We’ll see how this next test session goes.”
It still has yet to be finalized on if Johnson will run in the test session. Johnson also hinted that fellow rookie Romain Grosjean could also be taking part in the October test. Grosjean made his oval racing debut at World Wide Technology Raceway 10 days ago.
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