INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Over the past two decades, Jimmie Johnson never jumped behind the wheel on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway willing to concede anything short of a win.
Ahead of his anticipated first start in the Indianapolis 500 on May 29, Johnson’s swagger at the Racing Capital of the World appears to be back at a level only NASCAR fans are familiar with in the Circle City.
“I feel the more competitive I am, the brighter that spotlight will become, and I hope that sucker is as bright as possible,” Johnson said. “I know I have the team, Chip Ganassi Racing. I am surrounded by great teammates. My chances are good. I hope to exploit that and make the most of it.”
Following a crisp showing at Wednesday’s Indianapolis 500 open car testing, which included Johnson’s driving in traffic, the 46-year-old gave an assessment of his second experience in an IndyCar on the oval in Indianapolis.
The 1-10 scale didn’t suffice.
“Let’s go with an 11,” Johnson told News 8. “It is so much fun out there. What an honor it is to be here in IndyCar and to go that fast around this race track. Really enjoying it.”
Johnson turned 21 laps on Wednesday and posted speeds toward the bottom of the 26-car open test field.
This past month at Texas, Johnson finished sixth during his IndyCar oval track debut at Texas.
The strong showing backed up the notion that Johnson’s dominance on NASCAR ovals would carry over quickly to IndyCar.
During the final hour of Wednesday evening’s open test, Helio Castroneves found the Turn 2 wall and the No. 6 machine suffered significant damage to its right side.
Castroneves was leaving pit lane and re-entering the track outside of Turn 2 when he spun and nearly ran into Marcus Ericsson, who was turning through Turn 2. Castroneves was not injured.
It remains to be seen if Meyer Shank Racing can make repairs in time to head back out for day two of the open test Thursday.