Jimmie Johnson’s return to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Racing at the Daytona 500 has been an eventful one, with highlights both on and off the track. Johnson got to fulfill a long-time dream before taking his No. 84 Carvana Chevrolet onto the Daytona International Speedway for practice on Friday. He flew with the famed United States Air Force Thunderbirds, an experience he described as “wild.”
The Adrenaline-Pumping Flight
Johnson shared that flying with the Thunderbirds was probably one of the most exhilarating experiences he’s ever had. He felt the rush of adrenaline and acceleration as soon as they took off, making a performance turn to 10,000 feet. Instantly, he had to practice the heavy-G breathing technique that they taught him. Despite being a professional race car driver and having driven Indy cars at over 230 miles per hour at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Johnson was worried about getting motion sickness.
However, he was pleased to report that his “get sick” bag was empty, and he did not get sick during the ride. The flight included a pull of 9.1 G’s that caused Johnson to black out briefly. Nevertheless, he thoroughly enjoyed the experience, which left him wondering what he was doing in an airplane.
More Exciting Times Ahead
Johnson’s return to NASCAR Cup Series competition at the Daytona 500 is not the only event on his calendar. Earlier on Friday, the Chevrolet Camaro, which NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports entered as the Garage 56 entry for the 24 Hours of Le Mans Sports Car race, was unveiled. Johnson will co-drive the car with German Sports Car ace Mike Rockenfeller and former Formula One star Jenson Button at Le Mans in June.
Johnson expressed his excitement about the Le Mans program and the fun car he would drive. He mentioned the car’s specs, including its lightness, downforce, carbon brakes, and paddle shifting, all of which make it fun to drive. After the Daytona 500, he plans to drive a rental car to Sebring to participate in a 24-hour endurance test with his team, making for a busy couple of days of driving.
Preparations for Le Mans
For Johnson, the 24-hour test at Sebring Raceway will be his “Longest Day,” but he sees it as an opportunity to prepare for the Le Mans race. There are many differences between the way officials officiate the race and the rules and flags used in that particular event. Johnson must go over these things before the race and spend a day in the simulator to learn where their flagman stations are and what their flags mean. He must also be aware of some pit road procedures.
Johnson has been practicing at home, using his sim rig and doing a lot of iRacing. He’s been driving the Corvette GT car and putting only prototypes that are faster than him on the track, with around 60-70 cars chasing and overtaking him. He wants to make sure he’s leaving a lane when necessary and know what’s coming behind him. He’s using iRacing to prepare for the upcoming race.
Jimmie Johnson’s return to NASCAR Cup Series racing has been eventful, to say the least. He has had the opportunity to fly with the Thunderbirds, which was a dream come true, and is looking forward to co-driving the Chevrolet Camaro at the Le Mans Sports Car race. Johnson’s preparations for the Le Mans race involve extensive practice and simulation, both on and off the track. It is clear that Johnson’s passion for racing is as strong as ever, and his fans will no doubt be excited to see him back on the track.
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