Johnson began 18th on the 27-car grid for Sunday’s race at the Texas Motor Speedway, a venue the place he scored seven wins throughout his NASCAR profession.
The Chip Ganassi Racing driver made good progress on observe, making exterior passes and rose via the sphere to run a official fifth, earlier than gas worries as a result of defective telemetry persuaded he and race engineer Eric Cowdin to ease the #48 automobile’s tempo within the ultimate couple of laps.
Nevertheless, Johnson ceded just one place, to teammate Scott Dixon.
Requested if it was now legitimate to contemplate him a possible Indy 500 winner, Johnson replied: “I really feel like that is an aggressive assertion, for positive. However why not? Why cannot we?
“The 500 is a particular race. We have seen favourites win. We have seen the race received by technique, first-time winners, a wide range of various things which have taken place.
“Helio [Castroneves] is like ages older than me, [four months] and he received final yr! Actually, something’s attainable.
“If I had a poor operating in the present day or did not really feel the automobile, get a way of the automobile, I might suppose the hill to climb through the month of Could could be a lot steeper. Studying what I did in the present day, I’ll begin at such a greater spot.
“If the race was 50 laps longer, I believe I might have completed additional ahead. If I began 10th, the best way the observe performed out, my outcome would have been higher than a sixth.
“Why not? Let’s dream large.”
Helio Castroneves, Meyer Shank Racing Honda, Jimmie Johnson, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
Photograph by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images
Johnson stated a part of his confidence forward of the 500 got here from realizing the standard of the vehicles from Chip Ganassi Racing.
“I believe in the present day simply confirmed what the #48 automobile is able to,” he stated. “Everyone knows what the Chip Ganassi vehicles are able to.
“I simply have not been quick sufficient on the road and highway programs to place the automobile in that window and get outcomes. To be right here on a observe I do know, an atmosphere that I do know, I used to be capable of present and do this for the workforce.
“I really feel very enthusiastic about it, very inspired concerning the remaining oval races which can be on the books. I do know I’ll have an ideal automobile. We’ll see the way it goes.”
Though Johnson accomplished his rookie oval check at Texas Motor Speedway final August, Ganassi didn’t take part in final week’s check there alongside Crew Penske and Ed Carpenter Racing, after its scheduled date was shifted by three days as a result of dangerous climate.
Thus Johnson had not felt the tow impact nor the lack of downforce in turns when following different vehicles till yesterday’s follow classes, so discovered this weekend at Texas invaluable.
“To have the ability to get sufficient laps within the race, to really feel the tires from begin to end, inexperienced flag stops, being in soiled air – simply how uncomfortable and treacherous that’s.
“All of these little errors and little moments gave me a way of the automobile and helped me really feel actually tips on how to drive this automobile, tips on how to create pace.
“Second half of the race I began working my means ahead in that ultimate stint, had a really aggressive automobile.
“I wanted that I had possibly began the race slightly additional ahead. I believe I may have completed slightly additional ahead.”
“Not solely did I develop and enhance, however via my progress I have been capable of give higher suggestions to the workforce. Eric made some wonderful changes to the automobile, actually put it into its window for that final stint. It actually confirmed.”