If he has his way, seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson could be back behind the wheel of a Hendrick Motorsports-built vehicle next summer.
Johnson, now racing full-time in the IndyCar Series, is working to determine whether he will be able to participate in the 2023 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans as NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports, his longtime employer, plan to compete as part of Le Mans’ Garage 56 next year.
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“I’m still eagerly awaiting the (IndyCar) schedule,” Johnson said in a Tuesday teleconference. “I’m pushing behind the scenes to (IndyCar President) Jay Fry and others to try to understand what the schedule might be. I want to go to Le Mans. It would be an amazing experience to go with Hendrick and Action Express and the way this whole partnership works.
“But I think so much hinges on the schedule being released to understand if I can, and from the team standpoint what drivers would be at the top of their list.”
Johnson earned each of his 83 victories and seven titles in Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 48 Chevrolet. Since 2020, the California native has competed in 20 IndyCar races along with additional starts for Action Express in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
“I’m thankful to have had a few conversations with them (Hendrick and Action Express) and I know that there’s interest,” Johnson said. “I certainly have a ton of interest to do it. We’re just waiting for that first domino to fall.
“I feel like the interest is really high on both sides. We haven’t been able to talk anything more formal because the schedule is not out.”
Hendrick and NASCAR announced their intent to compete as part of Le Man’s Garage 56 initiative in March, marking the first stock car endeavor in the world-famous event since 1976. Garage 56 was introduced in 2012 as a special single-entry class reserved for innovative cars. It allows for the testing of new technologies and fostering of creativity and innovation without taking away the spot of a car from the traditional starting grid.