Jimmie Johnson’s rookie campaign in the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season is ready to take the green flag.
Chip Ganassi Racing and seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Johnson announced Saturday that leading online auto retailer Carvana will join the duo as Johnson’s primary sponsor, kickstarting Johnson’s new journey as he competes in a full road-and-street course schedule in the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season.
Johnson will bring with him the number he made famous in NASCAR, driving the No. 48 Carvana Chip Ganassi Racing Honda starting with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 7, 2021.
“This is huge,” Johnson said. “I’m as happy as anybody could be to drive for Chip, and what he’s accomplished in motorsports and to hear the seven major races he’s won, to know about the championships, it’s something I want to be a part of. I’m so thankful he’s giving me this opportunity.”
Team owner Chip Ganassi and Johnson made the announcement from St. Petersburg, Florida, the site of the season-ending Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Sunday, 2:30 p.m. ET, live on NBC), where Ganassi is looking to secure the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship with Scott Dixon in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.
“I’m really excited,” Ganassi said. “Obviously, I don’t need to sit up here and tell you about this guy on my right and what kind of driver he is, arguably one of the best in the world. He’s a champion, and anytime you can bring a champion into your organization, of any kind, it’s a feather in your cap. To bring in a seven-time champion is unheard of.”
Carvana, which is new to the motorsports industry, is a pioneer of online car buying. The online retailer buys, sells and trades used cars online and is known for their multi-story glass “vending machine” buildings.
“We could not be more excited, said Carvana CEO Ernie Garcia. “I think this is an unbelievable opportunity for us to get in front of our customers. This obviously makes sense for what we do, which is try to deliver great experiences to our customers every day. We get to do it now with this backdrop of a legend of racing and an unbelievable team, and I think all of us get to go on this ride with Jimmie to chase his next dream, and we think that’s a really exciting story to be a part of, so we could not be more excited to be a part of it.”
Johnson and CGR announced in September a partnership to explore the possibility of racing a full road-and-street course calendar in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES for the 2021 and 2022 racing seasons. Johnson tested with the Ganassi team in late July on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. That test fulfilled a lifelong dream for the driver who, as a kid, attended the iconic Long Beach Grand Prix and dreamed of competing in the historic Southern California race.
Johnson will get to work right away with his new Ganassi team. He is scheduled to participate in tests at Barber Motorsports Park and at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in November. The No. 48 livery will be unveiled prior to the 2021 season.
“I’m excited to get things started,” Johnson said. “I’m personally on a journey to learn as much as I can in a short period of time, and then to really start next year as swift as we can and to have as much as success as we can and represent Carvana and Chip Ganassi Racing all at the same time.”