LAS VEGAS – When Jimmie Johnson tested a Formula 1 car Monday at Bahrain, everybody talked about how it left him confident he can drive an open-wheel vehicle.
Missing from the conversation: Johnson recovered some confidence in his ability at a stock car.
How so? Following the very first winless season of his profession, the Cup champion Johnson was convinced that he understood how to go fast following piloting the McLaren as fast as world champion Fernando Alonso.
“What I remove that F1 experience is I rose in an unknown vehicle and environment and did really well,” Johnson said Wednesday following the first of two days of NASCAR’s postseason celebration. “So my natural instincts, my ability to drive, my ability to scare myself and challenge myself has not gone anywhere.
“We only had a poor year. I WISh I understood what was off in 2018. … The Formula 1 [automobile ] gave me a huge boost in confidence and, honestly, a big smile on my face. I don’t think I stumbled considerably in 2018 on the NASCAR side”
Johnson, who’s 83 career wins, has a contract through 2020 with Hendrick Motorsports, along with the excitement he showed in Bahrain for driving a potential IndyCar road-course race or even sports cars can give the impression that he would like to begin his post-NASCAR career sooner than later.
The 43-year-old Johnson explained that’s not the reality.
“I’ve got two years left [on my contract] with Rick, and that’s where that’s at and who knows?” Johnson stated. “I don’t have a plan. I am aware that individuals would love for me to have a plan, but I don’t.
“I only want to race and I want to drive cars and I want to go to cool races”
Johnson will not run the Indianapolis 500 – he promised his wife after they had kids he would not do the ovals.
“I’ve made it quite clear I’m far from done and there is plenty of racing left within me,” Johnson stated.
“If I could make that down the road for me to take part in, that would be a great way to end up racing in general.”
Johnson experience had the attention of other NASCAR drivers, who wanted Wednesday to speak to him.
“I’m definitely on Cloud 9,” Johnson stated. “There were a lot of things I experienced along the way that I’m forever thankful to McLaren and Alonso for. … My own experience from the car was only out of the world.
“I’m so pleased to make these guys [from the Cup Series] jealous. I’ve been threatened to be wrapped. Only an awesome experience.”