MADISON, Ill — Jimmie Johnson is back at the World Wide Technology Raceway. Yes, back. He’s been here before. He vividly remembers one of his past experiences at the St. Louis area race track but the other 2 not so much.
“Excited to be here for my first time in an INDYCAR,” Johnson said on Friday morning at WWTR. “Chatting on the way in with a couple people, I do remember my first race here in I think ’98 in the 59 Busch car. I do not remember being here two other times in the Herzog 92 car, which is kind of weird.
“I was in an argument with my social media team: I’ve only raced here once.
“We have these stats that show you have been here three times.
“Excited to go here in an INDYCAR.”
Johnson mentions that he did test a Cup car here before the repave but that was the extent of it.
As to why the opportunity in the 59 car sticks out? Well it was a who’s who going for it.
“I remember the 59 car because myself, Ryan Newman and Adam Petty were all fighting for that seat,” he says. “Adam Petty was sitting in the stands watching me. We’re literally fighting for this ride. I have more memories of that experience than the other two.”
This weekend he hopes to create an even better memory – his first NTT INDYCAR Series win.
Johnson has made 26 career starts in the series with 2 top 10 finishes and 1 top 5. Each came this year. All on ovals. Johnson was 6th back in March at the Texas Motor Speedways. He was 5th the 2nd Iowa race last month. In fact, the first Iowa race he led 19 laps and finished 11th.
With Gateway being like Iowa in terms of racing packages, Johnson has high hopes that he can vie for a victory in Saturday’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500 (6 p.m. ET, USA, INDYCAR Radio Network).
“I want to. I don’t know if it’s fair to think that until I get out on the track, get an understanding of it,” Johnson said of winning here.
“I think when I look at my oval performances, if there are multiple lanes, I seem to run well. Indy is a single-file track, I wasn’t able to pass and use my experience like I had hoped to.
“Last year’s race looked like there were about 10 or 15 laps where there were a couple lanes, then it quickly went to single file. Until I get out there, it’s hard to say.”