Jimmie Johnson takes rookie test in preparation for the 2022 Indianapolis 500

Written by on October 7, 2021

After being one of the greatest and most-accomplished rookies in recent memory, Jimmie Johnson’s first season as an IndyCar driver is now in the books. And with an eye towards his second season in 2022, the 46-year old NASCAR legend is taking a major step towards fulfilling a racing dream previously unrealized.

According to a report by Nate Ryan of NBC Sports, Jimmie Johnson took to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Wednesday for the speedway’s Rookie Orientation Program in advance of next year’s Indianapolis 500. Johnson, who raced a part-time IndyCar schedule in 2021 with a focus on road courses, is expected to add the Indy 500 to his schedule for next season and compete in The Greatest Spectacle in Racing for the first time.

While the day’s test was affected by rain, Johnson was able to make laps and get some experience driving an open-wheel car around the speedway’s 2.5-mile oval, which he won on four times in NASCAR’s Brickyard 400. Although rain caused several interruptions during the session, Johnson was able to complete the orientation program after completing all three of its phases.

“Certainly much different than what I’ve ever experienced around this track,” Johnson said. “Just trying to get my eyes used to the speed. Certainly a different feel in the car without power steering. Just the sense of the car is a lot different — A lot lighter vehicle, much more reactive than what I’ve had here in the past. So just taking it in, enjoying it, and looking forward to getting back out onto the racetrack once this weather moves through and completing my rookie orientation.”

After winning 83 races and a record-tying seven championships in his NASCAR Cup Series career, Johnson drove for Chip Ganassi Racing in 12 of the 16 races on IndyCar’s 2021 schedule. Johnson’s first season in IndyCar was largely one to forget as he adjusted from stock cars to open-wheel, but he did end the season on a high-note with back-to-back 17th place finishes — his best result during the year — at Laguna Seca and Long Beach.

In addition to Johnson, former Formula 1 driver and fellow 2021 IndyCar rookie Romain Grosjean was also at the speedway for his Indy 500 rookie test. Grosjean was recently hired as the new full-time driver of Andretti Autosport’s No. 28, which won the 2014 Indianapolis 500 with Ryan Hunter-Reay behind the wheel.

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