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Racing

Jimmie Johnson Facing Surprising New Challenges in Return to NASCAR

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  • The 47-year-old Jimmie Johnson was now a team co-owner of Legacy Motor Club.
  • Johnson described his last two years in IndyCar racing as a “growing opportunity.”
  • No longer a full-time driver, his decision to compete part-time in NASCAR meant he must now drive a car that was foreign to him.

    When Jimmie Johnson returned to the NASCAR Cup Series after his two-year stint in the NTT IndyCar Series, the seven-time champion quickly discovered a great deal of unfamiliar territory.

    The 47-year-old Johnson was now a team co-owner of Legacy Motor Club, facing issues and challenges he had never encountered. No longer a full-time driver, his decision to compete part-time in NASCAR meant he must now drive a car that was foreign to him. He participated in the NASCAR test at Phoenix Raceway last month and leaned on Legacy Motor Club’s Erik Jones to help him with the new car’s idiosyncrasies.

    Johnson must remember the car is now equipped with five gears, not four and the shifter is sequential, no longer the H pattern he used his 20 years in NASCAR’s Cup Series.

    “I genuinely need some help,” Johnson said about driving the current Cup car. “I just don’t know this car.”

    The steering system is “much more sensitive and different” than he anticipated as is the yaw window.

    “I always liked to drive a loose car and I spent a career of driving loose cars,” Johnson said. “You can’t drive this one sideways. It just doesn’t happen the way it creates downforce.”


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    The car number is not the only thing different this time around for Jimmie Johnson in his return to NASCAR.

    Jared C. TiltonGetty Images

    Johnson acknowledges there is “pressure and stress and anxiety with anything you do in life, and there is plenty of that” in his team ownership’s role. However, the knowledge he’s helping build something for the future is energizing. Still, he admits he hasn’t figured out how to balance his time.

    “Now, I know why Chad (Knaus, former crew chief) always looked tired and now I know why his fuse was so short,” Johnson said. “He’d always tell me to get out of his office because he had (stuff) to do. Now, I get it! I have such a better appreciation and understanding of what it takes to be a manager in this world or an owner or whatever my title might exactly be. There’s a lot going on.”

    Johnson described his last two years in IndyCar racing as a “growing opportunity” that’s led to his current situation.

    “When I left NASCAR, there was no chance I was ever going to come back as an owner,” Johnson said. “It was never in the cards for me. I thought in the back of my mind that I’d come back and drive. The experience I had working with Chip and Chip Ganassi Racing and how my office found and maintained the Carvana relationship and other partnerships on the car, there was a big growth period in there for me.”

    A growth period that has now led to a team owner relationship with Maury Gallagher and seven-time NASCAR champion and Hall of Fame member Richard Petty.

    Read the full article here

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