Jimmie Johnson is retiring. Again. Sort of. Not really, though. (Allow us to explain!)
Jimmie Johnson is retiring. Again. Sort of. Not really, though.
The seven-time NASCAR champion turned IndyCar Series driver is stepping back from full-time racing, the Associated Press first reported Monday, after his first full season in IndyCar, which included his Indianapolis 500 debut in May. He’s looking toward new racing opportunities while also hoping to spend more time with his family without a demanding full-time racing schedule.
So when he saw headlines this week about his “retirement,” he couldn’t help but laugh.
“Just kind of chuckled, mainly because, I’ve tried to retire once already, and it didn’t work out,” Johnson told reporters during a virtual press conference Tuesday.
“To see it up there a second time, it’s kind of like The Boy [Who] Cried Wolf. And I really don’t feel like this is the end of driving for me. I feel like it’s a chance to pivot and again to run marquee events and look for these amazing experiences that you know any driver would want to have.”
I couldn’t have asked for a better experience in the @Indycar series. Looking ahead, I will not return to INDYCAR full time in 2023 but will continue to look for new ways to challenge myself and participate in bucket list events. Hear more: https://t.co/H3e7X6PTLGpic.twitter.com/0kujpWdCaw
The 47-year-old driver has plenty of aspirations, though nothing appears to be set yet. But he could run some IndyCar races, like the Indy 500, he could return to NASCAR for a couple events — he retired from full-time NASCAR after the 2020 season —and he could go abroad to knock off some bucket list items.
For The Win spoke with Will Power after the 41-year-old driver snapped his winless streak and won his second IndyCar title.
Will Power ended his eight-year IndyCar Series championship drought Sunday at the Grand Prix of Monterey at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, finishing the race third and winning his second career title in a remarkably consistent season.
So consistent, in fact, that he finished on the podium nine times, had a series-high of five poles — and broke his tie with racing legend Mario Andretti for the all-time most at 68 — but won just a single race.
“I think we could have won more races,” Power told For The Win. “But I had the most podiums I’ve ever had in season. To have nine podiums is crazy. That’s more than 50 percent of the races you’re finishing on the podiums.”
The driver of the No. 12 Team Penske Chevrolet entered the season finale with a 20-point lead over teammate Josef Newgarden and Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon and a sizable advantage over Ganassi’s Marcus Ericsson, the 2022 Indianapolis 500 winner, and Penske’s Scott McLaughlin.
Power, a 41-year-old driver from Australia, didn’t need to win the last race to claim the championship; a third-place finish clinched it regardless of how the others performed Sunday.
After his second championship, Power spoke with For The Win about his victorious season, the challenges of a long title drought and the incredible weight of IndyCar’s gigantic trophy.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
It’s the time of year you’ve all been waiting for, so you don’t need this calendar to tell you football is back. There are so many intriguing debuts and matchups to look forward to in this first month of the season, but I simplified the calendar to give a quick glimpse of the prime-time matchups.
In addition to the NFL, we’ve got Week 1 of college football action with a few Top 25 matchups on the slate, though rankings are sure to change by the time some of these matchups roll around.
Finally, the WNBA will crown a champion, as will the US Open. And the MLB enters it final stretch of the season before the playoffs begin. Here’s your betting calendar for September.
Novak Djokovic goes for a second straight Grand Slam title. And football is back!
The wait is over for those starved of football. The August sports betting calendar is highlighted by the return of the NFL in the form of preseason play, though I personally wouldn’t wager on those wholly unpredictable games.
Besides, there’s so much more going on in August.
Novak Djokovic will go for a second straight Grand Slam title when the US Open gets underway near the end of the month. WNBA teams jockey for playoff position until the start of the playoffs in mid-August. And all three of the FedEx Cup Playoffs will determine a winner on the PGA Tour.
For The Win spoke with Indy 500 champ Marcus Ericsson less than 24 hours after his dramatic victory.
All Marcus Ericsson had to do to win the 2022 Indianapolis 500 on Sunday was just hold on for a few more laps until the checkered flag.
He was out front on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s mammoth 2.5-mile track, only a few miles from his first Indy 500 win and third win of his four-season IndyCar Series career since switching from Formula 1. But when Ericsson’s Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, Jimmie Johnson, crashed, the red flag came out, halting the race and evaporating his substantial lead.
So for about 10 minutes, Ericsson and the what was left of the Indy 500 field waited on pit road, strategizing.
For 31-year-old Ericsson, it was all about a strong restart for the two-lap shootout that would follow. He had to get out front and hold off his hard-charging competitors, Pato O’Ward and 2013 Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan.
And as the Swedish racer led the field through the last lap with the checkered flag practically in sight, a yellow caution flag came out for an incident, ending the race and making Ericsson the 2022 Indy 500 champ when he crossed the finish line at the Yard of Bricks.
For The Win spoke with Ericsson on Monday, less than 24 hours after his dramatic victory.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
First off, congratulations! What does it feel like to be the latest Indy 500 champion?
I’m still sort of trying to wrap my head around the fact that I won that race. It’s the biggest race in the world, and it’s something you work so hard [for], and you sort of dream of it for so long. And to actually do it and actually win it is just, yeah, it’s just an unreal feeling. So it’s gonna take a while to sort of understand that it’s real, I think.
So the red flag comes out, four laps to go and two after the restart. When you were sitting on pit road for 10 minutes or so, what did those few minutes feel like for you in the driver’s seat just waiting?
It was some of the toughest minutes of my life, for sure, because I knew how close I was to winning this race and how much just race means. So it was hard to sort of keep focused.
I was, first of all, I was so angry that that red flag came out because I had the race won pretty much. I was counting down the laps, had a big gap to [Pato O’Ward in second]. So I was just praying for not a yellow flag or a red flag, and then that happens.
And, of course, I had to regroup myself and refocus and make a plan for those last two laps and sort of figure out a way to still win. So it was very, very tough. It was very tough mentally to sort of stay sharp. But I had a plan in my head when we restarted, and I follow that plan to a millimeter, and it worked out.
What was that plan, knowing that there was a two-lap shootout, and you had a target on your back because you had the lead?
The plan for me, it was to try and break Pato’s toe, so it was kind of trying [to] weave on the straights to make it harder for him to follow me. And then I make sure I covered the inside line into [Turn 1] because I knew that was the best spot for him to overtake. So it was all about trying to do that and hoping that would be enough.
You were weaving all over the track. It sort of felt like watching a video game. Did it feel like that as you were driving, trying to keep Pato O’Ward at a distance?
I was doing everything possible to try and keep him behind. And you know, you have to take all the tricks up your sleeve to try and make that work. It was pretty, pretty intense out there for sure.
A lot of Indy 500 winners say that they win the race, and that makes them want to win another one even more. Do you already have your eye on the 2023 Indy 500?
I do, yes. First of all, I’m gonna go and try and win a championship because we’re leading the championship now after this weekend. So that’s the next goal. But of course, yeah, you win one here and see how amazing and special it is, it’s just want to make you win more.
After you won team owner Chip Ganassi climbed in onto your car for a moment in Victory Lane. What did you say to you in that moment?
He was just so happy, and [said], “I knew you could do it,” and stuff like that. You could see how much he meant to him as well. It’s been 10 years since he won this race, and he deserved it. He’s putting such a good team there, and I’m so proud to be part of the organization. And this month, either one of us five Ganassi cars could have won that race because we were so fast all month. So I’m just super happy to be part of that team.
Did you know that the caution flag had come out right at the very end of that last lap? Did you know that you had won it before you actually crossed the finish line?
Yeah, I did. I saw the caution come out, and then in the last corner, I realized this is going to be the checkered flag. So it was very cool those last seconds before finishing the lap and taking the checkered flag and sort of realizing the explosion of feelings for sure.
Have you slept at all?
Did you get a chance to celebrate with your team at all yet?
No, but my family’s here from Sweden and my girlfriend and some others, like sponsors. So we went out for dinner last night, and I was super nice. I was trying to sleep. I couldn’t fall asleep because I was too excited, and then when I eventually fell asleep, I woke up like two hours later because I couldn’t sleep. So I’m exhausted, but I’m excited at the same time.
What’s been the best thing about the last 20 or so hours since you won the Indy 500?
It’s hard to pick one moment. But I think the milk is obviously such a special thing here for the 500. And it’s something you picture in your head that you dream of for so long. So I think that was very special. And then I think the victory lap, waving to all the fans was also so cool to sort of try and take it all in.
What did that milk tastes like?
It tasted amazing. It was very cold and good.
How long did you stay in your milk-covered fire suit?
Until like 8 p.m. last night. And I’m still in it now. I mean, I got out of it to sleep but I’m still in it now. It smells good [laughs].
The wild final two laps followed a brief red flag with just four laps to go, elevating the suspense of the race’s end. But Ericsson put on a show and came out on top.
And when it was finally his time to head to Victory Lane and celebrate, he followed tradition with a few sips of whole milk — that’s what he requested on the milk poll from the American Dairy Association Indiana — and then dumped it on his head and face.
The 106th Indianapolis 500 ended in incredible and dramatic fashion — a thrilling two-lap shootout with Marcus Ericsson putting on a show to hold on for the victory.
Leading up to the finish, Indy 500 rookie Jimmie Johnson crashed with about five laps left, and officials threw up the red flag, momentarily pausing the race and building suspense for the last couple laps at Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s iconic 2.5-mile oval.
Johnson’s Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, Ericsson, had the lead going into the restart, followed by Pato O’Ward, Tony Kanaan, Felix Rosenqvist and Alexander Rossi.
It was a wild restart, but Ericsson shot out front and aggressively weaved all over the track, as O’Ward charged after him and tried (but failed) to find the perfect spot to make a pass. But the Swedish driver showed off some incredible defensive skills as he held on tight to the lead.
And on the last lap, a yellow flag came out for a crash toward the back of the field, and Ericsson won the 2022 Indy 500 under caution. Despite that, the final laps were beyond captivating:
NASCAR drivers and other racers are very excited for Indy 500 rookie Jimmie Johnson.
The Indianapolis 500 is always a huge deal as one of the biggest races in the world and on the single greatest motor sports day in the world.
Sunday, in addition to the Indy 500 (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC), there’s also Formula 1’s Monaco Grand Prix and NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600. So race car drivers around the world have been super busy lately, but many in racing still found time to wish Jimmie Johnson good luck for his big day.
“Oh, I think so. I think all drivers want to race in all marquee events. Everybody wants a shot at it. Hopefully, my time here will inspire others to come do it because I know there’s a lot of great talent in all forms of racing that would really enjoy this experience.”
So ahead of one of the biggest Sunday’s of Johnson’s extensive racing career, his racing pals, especially in NASCAR, shared sweet messages and wished their former competitor good luck in his Indy 500 debut.
In addition to those at Hendrick Motorsports, Johnson’s former NASCAR team, including former crew chiefs Chad Knaus and Cliff Daniels, racing stars like Mario Andretti and Tony Stewart shared their excitement and encouragement:
We here at For The Win have put together a bunch of preview content for the race, from a beginner’s guide to the 2022 Indy 500 to the latest odds to interviews with now-five-time pole winner and 2008 Indy 500 champ Scott Dixon and Indy 500 rookie Jimmie Johnson.
Here’s all of that content in one place for you to enjoy before the green flag waves on Sunday.
Brush up on your Indy 500 history with these odd and fun facts.
This story was originally published in 2019 and has been updated.
The Indianapolis 500 is one of the oldest and greatest motor sports events in the entire world, capturing the attention of diehard racing fans and once-a-year viewers a like.
The first Indy 500 was back in 1911, so with more than a century of history, it’s hard to keep track of every detail and quirk related to the race and the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway where it’s held. So here are 10 peculiar lesser-known facts about the race.