(WFRV) – When you think of NASCAR legends, Jimmie Johnson’s name is in the conversation.
When former seven-time NASCAR Champion, Johnson, stepped away from NASCAR after 22 years, it was time to live out a new dream.
Johnson is a rookie on the racetrack for the first time since 1998. His new career path? IndyCar racing.
“I’m much more at ease this time around as a rookie than I’ve ever been in my career. I think I’ve taken a lot of pressure off of myself due to the success I’ve had in NASCAR and I’m not fighting for my life in motorsports. I’ve already accomplished so much”, says Johnson.
Johnson will compete at Road America in Elkhart Lake on June 17-20. A track that’s been on Johnson’s bucket list.
“This track has been on my wishlist since I was a young kid watching racing and to finally be here is really special”, Johnson explains.
Johnson was at Road America early this week testing out the track in preparation for the big race and to be there was surreal.
“It’s been amazing. I think the first time by, I used a few expletives describing just how awesome the experience was just coming around with speed”, Johnson tells Local 5.
Although this is Johnson’s first year racing IndyCar, being a rookie isn’t as intimidating to him. This new venture was something that was sparked in 2018.
“Growing up in California, IndyCar was the series. Those are my hero’s and I wanted to do the same”, says Johnson. “In 2018, I switched cars with Fernando Alonso and drove his Formula 1 car and that open wheel experience, it kind of reactive this whole thing and since that opportunity in 2018, I’ve been trying to find a way into an open wheel car and was finally able to pull it off.”
Being the competitor Johnson is, he’s looking forward to new achievements on the track.
“We’re all lined up really well on those things and trying to use this first year to get all of this experience I can to progress up to the finishing results and progress up in the qualifying results and really get into a competitive position”, Johnson explains.
As Johnson enters this new career path in racing, he tells Local 5 that his family has been very supportive, but safety always comes first.
“My wife knew all along that I wasn’t walking away from racing and she’s been a big part of my decision making progress. Of course, she wants me to be as safe as possible. So, for both of us working through that, entering the IndyCar series, and even in the sports cars, has been my key”, says Johnson.
Johnson’s kids? Well, they love traveling with dad.
“My kids love the new venues we’re traveling to. I know they’re excited to come here. There’s plenty in the area for them to do as well”, says Johnson.
The REV Group Grand Prix will highlight one of the many events at Road America in Elkhart Lake this summer.