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 Collection automobile he piloted in his earlier 19 races on the well-known street 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 vehicles, my senses and physique understood a sure stage of grip and pace and reference factors for braking marks and on-throttle marks,” Johnson mentioned. “While you simply shatter every part you understand, it simply makes you snort. 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 Specific 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 tip of it, I believe 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 stage.”
Including to the adjustment is the usage of 4 corners (Turns 6 by way of 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 one in all these DPi Cadillacs, the tempo and energy it’s a must to drive round that racetrack is kind of spectacular, particularly evaluating it to my days in NASCAR,” Johnson mentioned. “A number of the braking zones, the Bus Cease and the Carousel, it’s simply mind-blowing how briskly these vehicles can journey by way of 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 Collection and the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup races of the WeatherTech Championship since leaving NASCAR. Johnson will crew 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 as a result 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 a whole lot of pleasure to return again to Watkins Glen. It’s a observe and space that I actually do take pleasure in. And to be on the observe by way of the complete loop – the Boot – I’ve not performed that many occasions in all of the journeys that I’ve been there, so I’m excited to run the full-distance observe.”
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 sooner he will get.
“You may see that hole closing and I felt rather 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 increased but. I’m excited to get a couple of laps in follow, and I’m unsure I’ll get rather more than that the best way the follow classes work out. Hopefully, the time I spend within the (simulator) really 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 blissful to be again within the race automobile and blissful to be again with everyone at Motion Specific Racing,” Johnson mentioned. “It makes me really feel like a child once more.”
The WeatherTech Championship schedule for The Glen options two follow classes – 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. by way of the conclusion.