Johnson Delivers INDYCAR’s Best On-Road Finish While Driving New American Legion-Inspired Livery
Jimmie Johnson got a head start on his “4th of July” celebration with the best road race of his career during Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 in Mid-Ohio presented by the all-new 2023 Honda Civic Type R.
The American Legion driver reached career highs in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES for a road and road finish when he started 27th and finished 16th. He made it to 15th place before being passed by Colton Herta for that position on the closing laps of the race.
Advancing 11 positions from his starting spot was the best for Johnson on a street and road course.
His IndyCar career high for any race was an improvement of 12 when he started 18th and finished sixth on the 1.54-mile oval at Texas Motor Speedway in the March 20 XPEL 375.
Johnson and his No. 48 Carvana/American Legion squad celebrated the statistical improvement when he brought his all-new Legion-inspired Carvana livery back to the pit area after the race.
“You’re going to have to wear cool goggles and suits from now on,” Johnson’s race engineer Eric Cowdin told the driver after the race.
Johnson entered the race wearing goggles to improve his vision inside the race car and also wore a specially designed suit so he could beat the heat on the 13-turn, 2.258 Mid-Ohio sports car course. miles.
“Thank you guys, thank you,” Johnson told his team before rushing to catch a flight to Europe.
“It’s my best result on the road and the most competitive result I’ve had,” Johnson said. “I think our approach this morning to Sunday’s warm-up gave me the balance I was looking for and not caring what my teammates were running and that served me well.
“It’s the most competitive I’ve been, and I can’t wait to continue on that.”
Johnson’s racing goal is to eventually break into the top 15 and set another goal from there. He got closer on Sunday at Mid-Ohio.
“I’m really excited for that,” Johnson said. “We have good direction here and what I need to feel in the race car to have the confidence to go fast.”
As Johnson fled to catch his flight, Cowdin explained the reason that helped push Johnson forward.
“We had a lot of talk over the weekend about what we need as a team to take him forward,” Cowdin said. “There is still a lot of learning going on, but as a group we are starting to fundamentally understand what it will take to take it to the next level.
“We made good decisions in the pits. He performed on the track and hit his marks. For us, we have to run on race day. We took a small step in that direction today.
Cowdin believes the next step is to improve Johnson’s qualifying performance to help him progress on the starting grid. This can help him finish higher in races.
“The lateral grip of these cars is pretty phenomenal on a bad day, so when you qualify on Firestone Reds and trust that level of grip, that’s something that comes online for us. “Cowdin said. “We found things he can trust this weekend.
“We have to take the next step and we will continue.”
Blair Julian, Johnson’s race strategist in the timing position for Chip Ganassi Racing, called it solid work and good teamwork.
“Keeping it clean was really key,” Julian said. “He had good pace after the first stint and that was encouraging. The Reds weren’t our best but when he came back to the Blacks his pace was good and he kept going. He fought hard to hold his position on the track and the pit lane guys did a good job.
“It’s a big challenge not to have the laps that all these guys do in qualifying, but his expectations are reasonable and realistic. I think the team is supporting him well and the team is moving in the right direction.