Jimmie Johnson has big plans after he retires from NASCAR at the end of the 2020 season, and it’s not a true retirement. The seven-time champion is stepping away from full-time NASCAR racing, and he’s planning on giving the open-wheeled IndyCar Series a shot.

In an announcement Wednesday, Johnson told the racing world he’s teamed up with Chip Ganassi Racing — which has both NASCAR and IndyCar programs — to run a 12-race IndyCar schedule in 2021 that focuses on the road and street courses and not oval tracks. With one of the top IndyCar teams, Johnson and Ganassi still need to finalize sponsorship, but that shouldn’t be too hard with their combined resumes.

While Johnson is a racing GOAT in his own right, another legend, Mario Andretti, has plenty of confidence in the almost-45-year-old driver’s ability to transition from NASCAR to IndyCar. And Andretti would know as one of the few people to win in both disciplines.

In an interview with NBC Sports, former NASCAR driver Kyle Petty asked Andretti how he expects Johnson to handle this crossover to another style of racing, and Andretti said:

“I think it’s wonderful that he’s doing that, and it’s great news for the sport. And he will slide in there just like a natural — I assure you — because he’ll be with a top team, so immediately, he’ll have the confidence.”

Assuming they can secure sponsorship, Johnson would become teammates with five-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon, who worked with Johnson when he tested a Ganassi car at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July. In his 19th season with Ganassi, Dixon has four wins in 2020 and leads the IndyCar standings with five races remaining.

Andretti noted that being in top equipment will aid Johnson’s transition to IndyCar. He also speculated that Johnson “got the bug” to race open-wheeled rides after his Formula 1 car swap with two-time F1 world champion Fernando Alonso in 2018.

But Johnson has also repeatedly said that he’s realizing lifelong dreams.

Looking at Johnson’s future, Andretti continued:

“Now, he did another test in Indiana with an Indy car, and I think he did some competitive times. And again, the bug just grew bigger. And now that they’re making this commitment, it’s awesome. It’s wonderful for the sport. I love to see that. He’s got a lot of racing in, and he’s with a Chip Ganassi team, and so you know he’s going to have top equipment. All the power to him. He’s ready.”

For now, Johnson has nine races remaining in his final full-time NASCAR season. He didn’t make the cut for the 16-driver playoffs and will retire in a three-way tie for a record number of titles with Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Sr.

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