Teammates hail “great asset” Johnson for sixth on oval debut

Marcus Ericsson and Scott Dixon beat their Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda teammate Jimmie Johnson to the checkered flag, but were excited for him scoring sixth on his oval IndyCar debut.

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Johnson, who won at Texas Motor Speedway seven times in a NASCAR Cup car, made his way forward with some strong outside and inside passes, dodged a three-car wreck right in front of him, and rose as high as a legitimate fifth place. However, a telemetry issue meant his team were unable to verify how much fuel he had left in the closing stint, so he backed off in the final two laps, allowing teammate Dixon past into fifth.

Ericsson, who was elated by his own third place – the Swede’s best finish on an oval – said of Johnson’s result: “It's super impressive. I think already from Lap 1 yesterday, you could tell he was a lot more comfortable, this felt more at home for him compared to the road and street courses, even though he's improved a lot there, as well.

“I think for us as a team, he's been a great asset with his experience. Even though an IndyCar is very different to NASCAR, I think his oval experience is still paying off a lot. I've been able to ask him questions this weekend to learn things from him.

“It bodes really well to have all four Ganassi cars in the top eight. It just means coming to the [Indy] 500, we're going to be super strong and have so many cars to work with, sort of help each other. Also adding [Tony Kanaan], he's not too bad around that place either!

“It's really good to see. I'm really happy for Jimmie as well. I know how much he's worked to get results in IndyCar. He's had a big mountain to climb. To get this result today I think is huge for him. I'm super happy for him.”

Dixon was downbeat after the race, saying he “made some poor choices” and got caught behind the off-sequence rookie Callum Ilott of Juncos-Hollinger Racing, adding, “I was almost in second gear in [Turns] 1 and 2, so another three or four cars came by, so I had to recoup that.”

But the six-time IndyCar champion added: “It’s nice to get to race on an oval – and it was fun to race Jimmie on one for a bit! That got pretty exciting and I only just got him towards the end.

“Kudos to the team with all four cars in the top seven. Obviously a win is what we want and now we’ve really got to start turning up and start moving on this championship.”

 

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