Jimmie Johnson says he is unlikely to add any more events to his 2021 slate unless additional IMSA endurance race opportunities come knocking.
The seven-time NASCAR champion is in the midst of preparations for his transition from stock cars to a road/street course IndyCar program with Chip Ganassi Racing, along with a run at next month’s Rolex 24 at Daytona in an Action Express Cadillac DPi alongside Simon Pagenaud, Kamui Kobayashi and Mike Rockenfeller.
While Johnson’s plans for his post-NASCAR career were taking shape over the past year, there had been speculation over whether he’d opt to make one-off appearances at selected events from across the racing spectrum, such as the Baja 1000 or the Dakar, both of which speak to his formative years in off-road racing. But the 45-year-old told RACER that he has little interest in adding to his existing schedule.
“I would be open to the other endurance races,” he said. “There are four that make up the IMSA endurance championship; I’m certainly open to that if an opportunity came along. I have not had conversations. I hope to run really well at the (Rolex) 24 and maybe pique some interest from other folks.
“I would consider that, but I really I’m a bit fearful to take on a much more from a scheduling standpoint. I truly do need to slow it down. I can’t keep up the pace that I’ve had for the last 20 years. And I just want to be around my family more, so that 15-race window is kind of what I’m trying to stick to. I’m at 14 now, and I’d be willing to push it up a bit to hit all the IMSA endurance races, if the right opportunity came along. But that’s really my max, honestly.”
While Johnson’s 14-17 race window is close to what most championships run as a full season, it represents a significant downscaling in time commitment to a driver who has spent the past two decades running Cups’ 36-race schedule.
“It’s tough,” he said of the NASCAR calendar. “But, you know, I was living the dream, honestly. And when you’re doing what you want to do, and certainly having success that we had, winning championships and all that, the time really just flew by. It really did. These last three years where it was more of a grind, they felt like 20 years on their own (laughs). But the 17 before that really went by quickly.”
While the 2021 Rolex 24 at Daytona will be Johnson’s first appearance at the event during the DPi era, he made seven starts in Daytona Prototypes between 2004 and 2011, finishing second in 2005 and 2008.