The longtime driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet is eyeing a possible return to his former team, albeit on a different continent. Jimmie Johnson has expressed a desire to join Hendrick Motorsports and NASCAR for the 2023 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Johnson voiced this desire during a conference call with reporters. He explained that he wants to be part of the Garage56 entry, which will be a Hendrick Motorsports-built car. Though Johnson clarified that he has one major hurdle standing in his way — the 2023 IndyCar Series season schedule.
“I’m still eagerly awaiting the schedule,” Johnson said, transcript courtesy of NASCAR Media. “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.”
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Garage56 is a special designation that applies to the single-entry class reserved for innovative cars. Founded in 2012, Garage56 provides organizations with the opportunity to test new technology during the 24 Hours of Le Mans without taking away a spot from a car on the starting grid.
Multiple Hendrick Motorsports Drivers Remain Possibilities
With the Cup Series organization leading the way, there are obvious questions about which drivers will take part in the 2023 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Team owner Rick Hendrick already acknowledged that Johnson is a possibility if his schedule allows, and he said that he would like a Cup Series driver to take part.
Kyle Larson, the defending champion, actually faced questions about his own schedule during a press conference at Sonoma Raceway. Semi-retired driver Boris Said jokingly asked Larson if he would spend his off-week in France. The driver of the No. 5 understood the reference and responded, “I would, yes.”
There have been rumblings about potential driver options, but Hendrick Motorsports has not provided any concrete answers. This will not take place until much later in the schedule. The current NASCAR drivers still await the release of the full 2023 Cup Series schedule while Johnson awaits the 2023 IndyCar Series schedule. Both will provide more information about possible driver options.
Johnson Achieved Significant Success With Hendrick Motorsports
The NASCAR driver-turned-IndyCar Series competitor has a long history with Hendrick Motorsports. Johnson spent his entire Cup Series career with the organization, and he achieved significant success.
The former driver of the No. 48 made 686 starts at NASCAR’s top level, and he reached Victory Lane 83 times. This is the sixth-most all-time, and it is the same number of wins that Cale Yarborough secured. Johnson also finished his career with 232 top-five finishes, which is the 12th-most all-time.
Along with the wins, Johnson tied a historic mark during his career. He won seven Cup Series championships, which is the most all-time. He joined Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt as the only men to achieve this feat, and he did so while driving solely for Hendrick Motorsports.
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