It’s become increasingly obvious that seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson won’t be around in NASCAR much longer. But that doesn’t mean he’ll be done racing once his time with Hendrick Motorsports ends.
Johnson joined fellow auto racing legend Fernando Alonso for a car-swap Monday at Bahrain International Circuit, where he zipped around the track in a borrowed 2013 McLaren MP4-28 Formula One car. As harrowing as it was at first — the airflow briefly dislodged Johnson’s helmet, according to ESPN.com’s Laurence Edmondson — it doesn’t sound like it will be the last time we see Johnson in an open-wheel race car.
“I’ve been approached many times about the Indy 500,” Johnson said, per ESPN.com. “I’m not overly excited about those fast ovals, but I think with my status and relationships, I could put together some road course races in IndyCar. I’d look at anything. …
“I’ve finished second in the Rolex 24 (of Daytona) a couple of times in the prototype division; I’d love to get back to doing that. Anything’s open. I’m far from done. I want to keep driving and hopefully I can find some good opportunities.”
Johnson, 43, faces a number of upcoming changes that signal his time in NASCAR could be coming to a close. He’ll race next season without Chad Knaus, the only crew chief he’s ever had in the No. 48 Chevrolet, and his contract with HMS expires after the 2020 season.
It’s unlikely Johnson will enjoy a slow retirement, however, and more likely he approach it like Alonso, who was right back on the track the day after retiring from F1. Both drivers have competed in sports cars, and Alonso made his much-celebrated debut in the Indianapolis 500 this year.
It doesn’t matter what kind of car it is. Drivers drive.
Thumbnail photo via Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports Images