AUSTIN, Texas – As seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Jimmie Johnson prepares for his final Daytona 500, he already is thinking about his “bucket list” in 2021.
Atop Johnson’s bucket list after retiring from full-time NASCAR competition this year? The chance to drive an Indy car and potentially compete in a handful of NTT INDYCAR Series races next season.
Johnson, who has said many times over the past two years he is interested in racing road and street courses in INDYCAR, attended the first day of preseason testing for INDYCAR at Circuit of the Americas (COTA). He attended the preseason driver’s meeting and then spent the rest of a rainy Tuesday as guest of Arrow McLaren SP’s Zak Brown, who also oversees McLaren’s F1 team and helped broker two-time champion Fernando Alonso’s two attempts at the Indianapolis 500.
“I’m here to look around and have some fun,” Johnson, 44, told NBC’s Leigh Diffey during a taping for NASCAR America. “I have some great friends here in the Austin area. I have great friends here in this garage area, including my friends at McLaren. I did the Formula One swap with Fernando Alonso a few years ago. I just wanted to check it out.”
At the conclusion of his interview with NASCAR America, Johnson took a few moments to speak to NBC Sports and offer his interest level in giving some INDYCAR road course races a try in 2021.
“At the end of last year when I knew I was done with 38 races a year, I got so excited,” Johnson said. “I have a lot of things I want to try, including INDYCAR and sports car racing in 2021, and now I can consider those as my ‘bucket list.’
After attending the preseason Drivers Meeting, Johnson spoke individually with some of the top drivers from the NTT INDYCAR Series. Many of them are his longtime friends.
“Jimmie has been talking about it for a little while and looking at different options,” five-time NTT INDYCAR champion Scott Dixon told NBC Sports. “He’s been super keen coming to INDYCAR races. That is just him. He’s a racer and wants to try something else. It’s good to see him in the paddock and try to do something. He is a legend of the sport; but also, a really good person. That is what I respect about him the most.
“Jimmie and I talk a lot about random stuff. We always text each other and have phone calls, too. Outside of Kyle Larson, he is the guy I talk to the most over on that side.”
For more on this story and what Johnson said, go to the MotorSports Talk story here.