Seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson ran his first laps in a Subsequent Gen automobile Tuesday in a take a look at at Phoenix Raceway and mentioned the automobile is “dramatically completely different” than what he was used to within the Cup Sequence.
“You can not drive these vehicles as sideways because the technology of vehicles that I drove because of the (tire) sidewall and likewise simply the aero properties of the automobile,” Johnson instructed reporters after he completed his one-day session.
Johnson was allowed to check below NASCAR’s Choose Driver Orientation Testing Guidelines. It limits a group to 3 units of tires and the way a lot knowledge might be collected. The take a look at is allowed to participate at a monitor that driver is not going to be entered.
This rule allowed former F1 champion Kimi Raikkonen to check a Cup automobile final 12 months earlier than competing for Trackhouse Racing at Watkins Glen in his first collection begin.
Johnson examined within the automobile in its 2022 configuration. Six different vehicles examined Tuesday at Phoenix in 2023 configurations. Among the many goals of the NASCAR take a look at for these six vehicles was to enhance the racing primarily at brief tracks and highway programs. Johnson was not permitted to run with these vehicles.
Tuesday marked Johnson’s first time in a Cup automobile nonetheless leaving the collection after the 2020 season to compete in IndyCar.
“(I used to be) making an attempt to work by way of it and discover pace right now,” Johnson mentioned of his objective for the take a look at. “The sim helped. I understood some large no-nos to do with the place I put my palms, once I go to the throttle. …Finally, I needed to stand up in opposition to the restrict right now and get a really feel for issues.”
The co-owner of Legacy MC mentioned he felt good within the session.
“I feel the fifth or sixth time by was my quickest time within the automobile,” Johnson mentioned. “To have the ability to be on tempo and be with the group that fast, it was good simply to have that to fall again on, and actually, instinctively, drive the automobile as an alternative of worrying about each little element, and the place I put the automobile and the way I used the pedals and the wheel like I might been doing in IndyCar the previous two years.”
Even with a session in a simulator final week, Johnson was grateful for some monitor time within the new automobile.
“Seat time is every thing,” he instructed reporters. “Drivers, groups, you attempt to do what you’ll be able to within the sim, however being on the monitor is the place you be taught every thing.
“To run a restricted schedule with (the No. 84 group) that’s operating a restricted schedule, we have to hold our expectations real looking concerning the job forward of us. It is a very aggressive sport. A number of nice groups and drivers.
“I assume, as I proceed to get extra seat time in these vehicles, I am going to perceive the place to search out pace and proceed to make myself extra aggressive.”
similar to driving a motorcycle pic.twitter.com/jEMnWgV8Uw
—Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) January 24, 2023
Tuesday additionally marked Johnson’s first day working with crew chief Todd Gordon on the monitor. The group introduced this week that Gordon, a former Cup champion crew chief, would work with Johnson this season.
“Todd is a real skilled,” Johnson mentioned. “Clearly his stats from him converse for themselves. Looking for somebody to actually assist slot in with me and likewise assist the group. Todd’s an ideal candidate for that, so we’re very excited to have him on board.”
Johnson will search to earn one in every of 4 open spots within the subsequent month’s Daytona 500. He mentioned he plans to run a “handful” of Cup races this season however possible will not have that schedule set till the “coming weeks.”
Johnson stays hopeful he’ll be one of many drivers for the Storage 56 program that can take a specifically ready Cup automobile to the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.
Johnson did say that “the door might be shut” on any IndyCar racing, that means he would not have the prospect to compete within the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on the identical day this 12 months.