Johnson Takes INDYCAR Best 5th Place

Johnson delivers INDYCAR-best 5th-place finish 

It was only fitting that on a day when Jimmie Johnson scored his first career top five in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, he did in The American Legion Honda.

Johnson and The American Legion have formed a strong bond and partnership through the “Be The One” campaign to help prevent veteran suicide.

After leading 19 laps in Saturday’s 250 at Iowa Speedway before finishing 11th, Johnson achieved one of his goals in INDYCAR by riding to his first top-five finish in the Hy-Vee Salute to Farmers 300 from Sunday.

The American Legion had full sponsorship of Johnson’s number 48 Honda on Sunday.

“With my family history in the armed forces and serving our country, the relationship with The American Legion has been very special,” Johnson said. “To have it in the car today, and the car looked so good, today is a very cool day and I’m glad we made it happen.”

While Johnson was celebrating with his No. 48 Chip Ganassi Racing crew, he was handed the iPhone by his publicist, Amy Stock. It was Dean Kessel, chief marketing officer of The American Legion, who helped close the deal with seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion and Chip Ganassi Racing after the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES.

“Great job man, fantastic”, Kessel told him. “I’m so happy for you, man. You were so good, so great. It is awesome.”

Coupled with title sponsor Carvana, Johnson and The American Legion have had quite the ride in INDYCAR over the past two seasons, and on Sunday they had a tangible result worth celebrating.

“I am so proud to have The American Legion on the car today in the race and can best end my career with them and their Be the One campaign going on,” said Johnson. “And I really have to thank Carvana for taking the step with me.

“A few years ago, Ernie Garcia Jr. believed. in this idea. We knew we could walk well. It took me to get on the ovals to get my best finish and we were able to do it today.

“Today was just a fun day of racing there.”

It was also an opportunity to share the celebration with the team, who have helped Johnson improve every step of his INDYCAR career that started on the street and road courses in 2021 and now spans a full season, including the ovals.

“It was a great weekend,” said Blair Julian, Johnson’s racing strategist at Chip Ganassi Racing. “We ticked off a few things here. We have a top five for Jimmie and the team. The team is working great. Eric Cowdin is doing a great job on engineering. Mike Le Gallic leads the crew, and it’s a great group here .

“We think Jimmie’s result today will carry over to the road courses still on the schedule, as well as another shot at the short oval at (World Wide Technology Raceway) in St. Louis. We didn’t see the result in Toronto, but the ground he made in Toronto was huge.”

As Johnson entered his pit area after the Hy-Vee Salute to Farmers 300, he triumphantly climbed out of his car and pumped his fist at his crew. Scott Pruett, who has served as his driver coach, was one of the first to greet him and the two took a selfie together.

Johnson was interviewed for the second day in a row by NBC’s Nate Ryan, basking in the attention of the best weekend of his INDYCAR career.

“This is a truly special day for me, for everyone who has made this journey for me in the INDYCAR Series,” said Johnson. “On Saturday, I felt like I overran some people and passed more cars.

“Nowadays every spotter knew what I was looking at, and every driver knew where I wanted to run. There was more mirror driving and spotter driving and that was normal. Saturday I felt I had an element of surprise.

“Today, although I finished better, I had to work so much harder for every position on the track.”

A top five was a goal, but the next goal is a win.

“The ovals, my chances continue to increase,” Johnson said. “I was sixth in Texas, fifth here. Indy was an outlier as I struggled to overtake that track, but we have an oval left at Gateway and that’s a short track.

“This weekend I was able to find lanes to pass.

“Damn, if my dream didn’t come true on an oval.”

Johnson is confident and ready to drive it at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for next Saturday’s Gallagher Grand Prix on the IMS road course.

“These cars reward confidence,” Johnson said. “That’s what I keep learning and discovering every week. I think I’ve reached a new level of confidence and aggression, and I realize there’s more.

“I can build on this.”

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