- Johnson will retire from NASCAR competition following 2021 season
- Johnson has interest in switching to INDYCAR in 2021
- Johnson listed at +2000 to win his final Daytona 500
7-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson is set to retire from competition following the upcoming season. That means the next Daytona 500 will likely be his last. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean Johnson will be putting an end to his racing career.
Johnson said that one of the items on his bucket list is to possibly compete as an Indy car driver. The San Diego native was in attendance for the first day of preseason testing at the INDYCAR Cirtuit of the Americas (COTA), where he attended the preseason driver’s meeting.
Johnson’s Indy Background
The 44-year-old told NBC, “I’m here to look around and have some fun. I have some great friends here in the Austin area. I have great friends here in this garage area, including my friends at McLaren. I did the Formula One swap with Fernando Alonso a few years ago. I just wanted to check it out.”
While you may think Johnson would have a bittersweet feeling about giving up the NASCAR circuit, he sure sounds excited for what’s next. He added, “At the end of last year when I knew I was done with 38 races a year, I got so excited. I have a lot of things I want to try, including INDYCAR and sports car racing in 2021, and now I can consider those as my ‘bucket list.'”
Johnson also said that INDYCAR adding aeroscreen, a cockpit safety device, was something that increased his interest in potentially competing at some point. He said, “The aeroscreen for me is huge. From a safety standpoint, I’m used to having a roof over my head and a windshield in front of me. That safety step really opens up my interest in INDYCAR. I grew up going to the Long Beach Grand Prix and was an IndyCar fan and thought that was going to be what I did. But my career path went in a different direction.”
Johnson a Betting Longshot at Daytona
Before Johnson retires and embarks on a potential INDYCAR career, there is the small matter of the Daytona 500. Johnson’s start next weekend at Daytona will presumably be his last as a NASCAR driver, and oddsmakers aren’t particularly bullish on his chances of finishing first.
BetOnline has Johnson at +2000 to win the Daytona 500, which ties him with several other drivers for the ninth-best odds to win the legendary competition:
|Driver||Odds To Win Daytona 500|
|Martin Truex Jr.||+1400|
Johnson has won the Daytona 500 twice in his career. He first took home the top prize in 2006, with his most recent victory coming in 2013.
Other drivers are excited about the potential added exposure that a big name like Johnson could bring to the Indy circuit. 3-time Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti said, It would be amazing. He has expressed interest for a long time. Jimmie is a friend of a lot of ours and to know he is going to retire from NASCAR at the end of the season he can do all of those things on his bucket list. It would be fantastic to see him do some INDYCAR races.”
Johnson Could Struggle in INDYCAR
While Johnson would bring some added notoriety to the Indy circuit, it’s safe to say that he would face long odds at a race like the Indy 500 if he were to make the leap next year. Competing against big names like Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan, Will Power and Alexander Rossi is a completely different challenge, especially for someone like Johnson with such little experience at that level.
Johnson will likely be a betting long shot to win anything of merit at the Indy level if he does wind up taking the wheel on the circuit next season. However, given his phenomenal track record on the NASCAR scene, it’s not out of the question to think that he could eventually enjoy some success once he gets the hang of it.