Johnson Getting Reintroduced to WWTR

Excuse Jimmie Johnson if he has neglected a few races in his decorated motorsports profession. He has recorded much more than 800 starts in a stock vehicle and now 26 in the NTT INDYCAR Collection.

So as the seven-time NASCAR Cup Sequence winner rolled into World Huge Technologies Raceway for this weekend’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Axalta and Valvoline, he could not bear in mind how quite a few moments he had raced below. He thought the reply was at the time, but he was explained to that was incorrect.

“I was in an argument with my social media staff,” Johnson mentioned. “(They stated), ‘We have these stats that demonstrate you have been listed here three occasions.’”

All a few were in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series, with records demonstrating finishes of 15th in 1998 with Tad Geschickter’s group and finishes of 13th and 14th in 2000 and 2001, respectively, with Herzog Motorsports.

“I do try to remember my to start with race here in, I think, ’98 or ’99 in the (No.) 59 Busch motor vehicle, (but) I do not bear in mind being listed here the other two instances, in the Herzog (No.) 92 auto, which is sort of bizarre,” Johnson stated. “I recall the 59 vehicle since myself, Ryan Newman and Adam Petty have been all preventing for that seat. Adam Petty was sitting down in the stands viewing me.”

Johnson also analyzed a Cup Series auto just just before the track was repaved, and he has been in a simulator attempting the 1.25-mile oval in NTT INDYCAR Sequence configuration.

Friday, Johnson experienced 21st of 26 for Saturday’s 260-lap race. Stay protection begins at 6 p.m. ET on United states of america Network, Peacock Quality and the INDYCAR Radio Community.

Johnson has posted his ideal NTT INDYCAR Series effects on oval tracks – he was sixth at Texas Motor Speedway and 11th and fifth in the two races at Iowa Speedway – but this observe may well not suit him as effectively as these.

“When I look at my oval performances (in this series), if there are numerous lanes I seem to run perfectly,” he mentioned. “Indy is a solitary-file monitor, (and) I was not capable to move and use my encounter like I had hoped to.

“Last year’s race (at WWTR) seemed like there were about 10 or 15 laps exactly where there have been a couple of lanes, then it quickly went to solitary file. Until I get out there (for Saturday’s race), it is really hard to say.”

As element of article-qualifying follow, 9 drivers invested 30 minutes driving in the track’s large lane to increase observe rubber to aid create the next groove. A identical session was supplied at Texas Motor Speedway to realistic critiques, and there had been 284 passes for place.

Johnson also pointed out he tested at Iowa Speedway in progress of the doubleheader this event afforded him no such luxurious.

“Here I think I’m up to 50 laps,” he explained right after qualifying. “Just need far more laps to locate my groove all over below.”

New Agreement, New Day for Castroneves

As the NTT INDYCAR Sequence resumes action with this weekend’s Bommarito Automotive Team 500 presented by Axalta and Valvoline, it would be sensible to keep in mind which driver appreciates Environment Vast Technology Raceway as perfectly as any individual. His name is Helio Castroneves.

From an on-observe point of view, the 47-yr-previous Brazilian has not been listened to from a great deal this season at Meyer Shank Racing, with his No. 06 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda further in the standings than he’d like – he’s 18th just after 14 of the 17 races. But this is a observe where by Castroneves has generally excelled, winning the 2003 race and 2 times ending 2nd. In six starts off at the 1.25-mile observe in Madison, Illinois, he has never finished outside the leading 10, and that is with 3 distinct teams.

And ovals have been his matter about his lengthy career, too, with 16 of his 31 victories coming on these types of tracks.

“Very pleasant,” Castroneves said of currently being reminded of all those details. “I truly take pleasure in that.”

With agreement extension in hand for 2023, Castroneves is hoping for a smoother Saturday evening than he seasoned in his victory 20 decades ago. In that race with Team Penske, his vehicle was plagued with an assortment of sprint difficulties – “no information on my dash, to be truthful, unquestionably blanked” – and nonetheless he continue to sent.

“Technology occasionally allows, but that unique day technologies did nothing at all for me,” he reported, laughing. “I don’t forget even upshifting the lights weren’t performing. I experienced to do almost everything by timing – virtually old college.”

Castroneves laid this season’s troubles to the problem of developing a basis for the crew that has developed to two complete-time cars and trucks this year. Indeed, he has experienced to adjust to the downforce improvements established by the installation of the aeroscreen due to the fact he very last drove at some of these tracks in 2017, the previous time he competed in all of the series races. Contemplate, far too, that this weekend’s function at WWTR is only his second at the monitor because 2003.

But Castroneves believes MSR is making one thing distinctive with he and 2019 collection champion Simon Pagenaud, his former working mate at Workforce Penske.

“Look, I’m just likely to set it this way,” he explained. “When you commence a organization, (and) figured out a minimal little bit with Roger (Penske) in this spot, often you are producing a (auto) dealership (and) the first year you get rid of dollars. It’s very considerably like this in the racing crew.

“Sometimes you place a group collectively (and) even nevertheless the group has knowledge or is sharing details with another group, it can take time to adhere to the procedure, to put all the things in put. Some individuals coming and going, so it can take time. You’ve just received to rely on the process.

“I’m self-confident that we will get our deserved result, and with any luck , this weekend we’ll break via.”

‘The Wall of Smack’

WWTR officers have adorned the Transform 2 wall, labeling it “The Wall of Smack.”

Quite a few NTT INDYCAR Series drivers have strike it around the a long time, which include Alexander Rossi last calendar year in the No. 27 NAPA Vehicle Sections/AutoNation Honda of Andretti Autosport.

Rossi was questioned about the sign and at very first tried to downplay it. But he confessed.

“I most likely know additional about it since I’ve crashed there,” he stated.

Felix Rosenqvist (No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet) spun shut to it in NTT P1 Award qualifying but prevented it.

Stated Josef Newgarden (No. 2 PPG Group Penske Chevrolet) of the signage: “I love it. It could present an exceptionally ironic spot to have a wreck. I’ll attempt not to strike it, (but) I’m certain men and women would enjoy that if I did.”

Odds and Ends

  • Graham Rahal was the speediest driver in general in the last apply Friday evening, turning a prime lap of 177.728 mph in the No. 15 iPacket Honda. Rahal will start 13th Saturday. Johnson spun entering the pits with about one moment remaining in the exercise, brushing the wall with his nosecone.
  • Newgarden, who will start 3rd, is heading for a 3rd consecutive victory at this monitor. The last time an INDYCAR driver gained 3 in succession at one of the tracks on the 2022 routine was Sebastien Bourdais at Extended Beach (2005-07). Colton Herta will have a likelihood to acquire a few in a row at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca with the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey on Sept. 11.
  • The major 7 motorists in the standings acquired the major 7 positions for Saturday’s race, and fittingly, series points chief Will Electric power (No. 12 Verizon Staff Penske Chevrolet) will start on the pole.
  • Indianapolis 500 offered by Gainbridge winner Marcus Ericsson (No. 8 Bryant Honda) acquired his best beginning posture of his NTT INDYCAR Series job. His preceding most effective experienced been third final yr at the Mid-Ohio Sports activities Auto System.
  • Andretti Autosport’s Romain Grosjean, who experienced ninth in the No. 28 NAPA Vehicle Pieces/DHL Honda, will commence the race in the 18th place thanks to an unapproved motor adjust in advance of this celebration. At oval tracks, the penalty for this kind of motion is nine positions at highway classes and road circuits, it’s 6 positions.
  • Rookie Devlin DeFrancesco qualified in the 10th placement and will begin ninth thanks to Grosjean’s penalty, making this his best-beginning energy of the season. The previous very best by the driver of the No. 29 PowerTap Honda of Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport was 15th in Race 2 at Iowa Speedway.
  • The NTT INDYCAR Collection will keep on a tradition at WWTR by presenting a pair of 3-wide “Salute to Indy” parade laps. Motorists in positions 17 via 24 will pull along with the first eight rows, leaving drivers in positions 25 and 26 to comprise Row 9. Coming to the inexperienced flag, the autos will be again in rows of two dependent on qualifying performances.
  • Indy Lights introduced by Cooper Tires factors leader Linus Lundqvist, who drives the No. 26 entry of HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing, won his series-top sixth pole of the season Friday at WWTR with a two-lap pace regular of 160.259 mph. It will be the seventh time Lundqvist starts off at the front of the industry, as he also had grid place No. 1 earlier this month at Nashville, where by the area was set by entrant factors right after qualifying was rained out. Benjamin Pedersen (No. 24 Global Racing Group with HMD Motorsports) was next at 160.124 mph. The 75-lap race is established for 4:20 p.m. ET on Peacock Top quality, INDYCAR Reside! and the INDYCAR Radio Community. Lundqvist has gained five collection races this period and holds a commanding 95-level championship lead.
  • Salvador De Alba of Jay Howard Driver Progress led Indy Professional 2000 tests Friday at WWTR with a speediest lap of 140.471 mph. Saturday’s 45-lap race is set for 3:15 p.m. ET.