Jimmie Johnson To Test Arrow McLaren SP Indy Car

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Jimmie Johnson To Test
Jimmie Johnson will test an Arrow McLaren SP Indy car at Barber Motorsports Park in April. (HHP/Harold Hinson photo)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson has made no secret of his desire to eventually strap in to an NTT IndyCar Series car.

In the near future, he’ll have an opportunity to do just that.

Johnson confirmed on Twitter Wednesday afternoon that he’ll be testing an Arrow McLaren SP Indy car next month at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama. The NTT IndyCar Series races the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at the 2.38-mile, 16-turn course on April 5.

Arrow McLaren SP utilizes Chevrolet engines in its two cars, lending to a natural crossover opportunity, considering Johnson drives for Chevrolet flagship team Hendrick Motorsports in the NASCAR Cup Series.

The Zak Brown, Sam Schmidt and Ric Peterson-led operation is fielding young guns Pato O’Ward and Oliver Askew full time in the NTT IndyCar Series this year.

Johnson broke the news of his test opportunity in a pair of posts on Twitter, complete with photos of a Dallara DW12 in the Arrow McLaren SP shop in Indianapolis.

Johnson has a close friendship with McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown. The duo most recently met up during IndyCar Spring Training at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, where Johnson was able to spectate during the test thanks to an invitation from McLaren.

During his Spring Training visit, Johnson presented one of his NASCAR helmets to Brown.

Johnson’s ties to McLaren go back even deeper than that, however. He tested a McLaren Formula One car in 2018 at Bahrain Int’l Circuit as part of a ride swap with two-time F-1 champion Fernando Alonso, who was then a driver for McLaren’s F-1 program.

While Johnson has said fans likely won’t see him in the Indianapolis 500 after he retires from full-time NASCAR Cup Series action, he said during Daytona 500 Media Day in February that road course racing was certainly an option when it came to Indy car racing.

“It’s a box I want to check and where my head is. IndyCar is an option and sports cars are an option,” Johnson said. “I have finished second in the Rolex 24 twice and I would like to try that again. I would like to stand on the top box there. Le Mans is on my wish-list. Off road, I would like to run the Mint 400 again or the Parker 400; some of those courses I really enjoyed.

“But IndyCar, I think the windscreen on the Indy car certainly creates a huge upgrade in safety for those cars. I don’t want to say that an oval would be completely out of the question; the right oval would be important,” Johnson noted. “But I want to do some road course racing. After driving that F-1 car a couple Novembers ago, it just blew my mind what that experience was like.

“I’m really open to the point of checking boxes. That’s what 2021 will be all about for me.”