Jimmie Johnson’s recent NTT IndyCar Series test with Chip Ganassi Racing has motivated the seven-time NASCAR Cup champion to pursue sponsorship for an ambitious 2021 calendar. Once the Californian completes the season with Rick Hendrick Motorsports and bids farewell to stock car racing, the 44-year-old wants to dive headfirst into open-wheel competition.
“And that’s all taking place now,” Johnson told the Dale Jr Download podcast. “Literally following that test date, it sparked what I needed, and I’ve been able to tell the teams that I’m talking with that, Hey, the interest is there.’
“It’s a tricky time right now with marketing dollars being hard to find and companies that are actually able to spend money on marketing right now with the COVID situation. So, we’re out trying to find funds and literally trying to raise sponsorship funds to go run the full road course and street circuit schedule. That would be my dream world.”
Johnson, who races the No. 48 Chevy for Hendrick, hopes to have a direction on in IndyCar by the end of September.
“Everything’s really open right now, and I’m speaking to quite a few teams,” he said. “There’s certainly interest with my status and the switch and the interest that would come with that. So, I don’t have a team narrowed down yet, but we have a lot of lines in the water looking for sponsorship to take to a variety of teams.
“There is the manufacturer conversation. Some of the teams I’m speaking to are Chevy. Others are not. So, it’s something I have to consider and weigh out as time goes on. So, we’re in that planning phase right now as corporate America looks to allocate funds. In the next four to six weeks, I hope to have some clarity on it.”
Although Johnson does not foresee the Indy 500 being part of a 2021 plan, he could be open to it in the second year of a contract.
“So, the 500, of course, is what I wanted to do as a kid,” he said. “So, it’s on my radar, but I want to watch this year with their new windscreen safety mechanism that they have, and see how that all unfolds. I would sign a two-year deal to go into car racing for all their road and street circuits. So in ’22, I would maybe look at the 500.”