Johnson on IMSA at Watkins Glen: ‘I can not consider I simply did that in a race automobile’
Jimmie Johnson had a lot enjoyable racing at Watkins Glen Worldwide final 12 months, he “LOL’d” whereas driving.
It wasn’t like his earlier races at Watkins Glen. As an alternative of the NASCAR Cup Sequence automobile he piloted in his earlier 19 races on the well-known highway course, final 12 months Johnson was behind the wheel of a Cadillac DPi-V.R within the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
“The years I spent driving automobiles, my senses and physique understood a sure degree of grip and velocity and reference factors for braking marks and on-throttle marks,” Johnson mentioned. “While you simply shatter every thing you understand, it simply makes you snigger. Contained in the automobile, I’m actually laughing. I’m like, ‘I can not consider I simply did that in a race automobile.’ That’s the a part of the game I’m actually having fun with.”
Johnson returns this week for the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen within the DPi automobile, the No. 48 Ally Cadillac ready by Motion Categorical Racing. His first try within the automobile at WGI final 12 months led to fifth place.
“That was really the eye-opening expertise I had final 12 months,” Johnson mentioned. “I had six laps of follow earlier than the race, and I used to be nowhere close to tempo. Then my stint towards the top of it, I feel I had 20, 25 laps within the automobile, I used to be lastly shut on tempo and ran my quickest lap on my in lap. I took 30 laps to lastly discover the aggression degree.”
Including to the adjustment is using 4 corners (Turns 6 via 9) for the IMSA races that NASCAR doesn’t. The additional “Boot” part is a demanding, high-speed downhill/uphill run, and getting it proper grew to become a part of the explanation for Johnson’s pleasure.
“In certainly one of these DPi Cadillacs, the tempo and energy it’s important to drive round that racetrack is kind of spectacular, particularly evaluating it to my days in NASCAR,” Johnson mentioned. “Among the braking zones, the Bus Cease and the Carousel, it’s simply mind-blowing how briskly these automobiles can journey via these tight little areas. (I’m) very excited to get again and have that have as soon as once more.”
The seven-time Cup champion has expanded his experiences to the IndyCar Sequence and the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup races of the WeatherTech Championship since leaving NASCAR. Johnson will staff with Kamui Kobayashi and Mike Rockenfeller within the No. 48 Ally Cadillac for the Sahlen’s Six Hours, which begins Sunday at 10:40 a.m. ET.
Johnson, Kobayashi, Rockenfeller and Jose Maria Lopez opened the WeatherTech Championship season with a fifth-place end in DPi on the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Johnson needed to miss the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Offered by Advance Auto Elements in March because of a battle with the IndyCar schedule.
“Actually excited to see Kamui and Mike — two nice human beings and nice guys to be round,” Johnson mentioned. “All in all, I’ve plenty of pleasure to come back again to Watkins Glen. It’s a monitor and space that I actually do take pleasure in. And to be on the monitor via the total loop – the Boot – I’ve not performed that many instances in all of the journeys that I’ve been there, so I’m excited to run the full-distance monitor.”
Johnson mentioned he deliberate to spend time within the racing simulator on Wednesday to get re-accustomed to Watkins Glen, however nothing is like time within the precise race automobile. The extra seat time within the DPi, Johnson says, the quicker he will get.
“You possibly can see that hole closing and I felt far more comfy and aggressive within the automobile,” Johnson mentioned. “In a brief race, a six-hour race, the significance of being on tempo is even greater but. I’m excited to get just a few laps in follow, and I’m undecided I’ll get far more than that the best way the follow periods work out. Hopefully, the time I spend within the (simulator) truly will repay, and I can get a step nearer to the tempo I need to run.”
One factor we all know: He’ll be laughing, simply as he did final 12 months.
“I’m comfortable to be again within the race automobile and comfortable to be again with all people at Motion Categorical Racing,” Johnson mentioned. “It makes me really feel like a child once more.”
The WeatherTech Championship schedule for The Glen options two follow periods – late Friday afternoon and early Saturday morning — forward of qualifying on Saturday afternoon (livestream at 1:15 p.m. ET on IMSA.com/TVLive).
Sunday’s race, the third of 4 legs of the Michelin Endurance Cup, streams reside flag-to-flag on Peacock beginning at 10:40 a.m., with USA Community selecting up tv protection at 2 p.m. via the conclusion.