Jimmie Johnson joins the Race of Champions 2022 grid

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Before becoming one of the greatest pilots of NASCAR the story, Jimmie johnson strutted in the off-road world. In 2022, he will again break with unpaved races by throwing his name into the snow program. Champions race in Sweden. He will drive next Travis Pastrana for United States Team in the Nations Cup.

Johnson made his ROC debut in Gran Canaria in 2002. After a fifth place in points in his rookie Cup Series season, he was joined by Team USA by his teammate NASCAR. Jeff Gordon and star of the World Superbike Colin edwards. He was beaten by Frenchman Sébastien Loeb in the semi-final and Italy’s Renato Travaglia in the final, even though the Americans won the Cup. Johnson was eliminated by Finland’s Marcus Grönholm in the ROC individual knockout stage.

“Winning the ROC Nations Cup was something really unique: the only event where I represented my country” Johnson said. “I’ve been able to accomplish a lot in my career, but it’s the only experience I’ve had like this. I can’t wait to return to ROC and compete with Travis. He’s a great talent and we have so much fun competing together. Hopefully we can have fun and be successful on snow and ice.

2004 at the Stade de France saw his second run in the event after finishing second in the Cup standings, with another stock car teammate in Casey mears. Once again racing against rally stars, he lost to Germany’s Armin Schwarz in the individual tournament and Britain’s Colin McRae in the Nations Cup.

He skipped the 2006 ROC due to a wrist injury he sustained after falling from a golf cart, which aborted a team with Pastrana. The two finally secured their partnership the following year, shortly after Johnson won his second consecutive Cup title at Wembley Stadium. Frenchman Sébastien Bourdais defeated Johnson in the Drivers Cup opening round while Michael Schumacher defeated Johnson and Pastrana in the Nations Cup quarter-finals. 2007 was Johnson’s last ROC appearance to date.

ROC 2022, held in Pite Havsbad, Sweden, near the Arctic Circle, will be the first on a course made of snow and ice. Although Johnson had little or no experience on such a surface, he competed in a variety of off-road disciplines early in his career, including desert, short course, and stadium trucks. His return to the 2019 Darlington Cup (pictured) is also inspired by his 1995 trophy truck. When asked in an Instagram Q&A about the potential return to off-road racing, Johnson replied: “I really hope my retirement schedule needs to be lightened a bit …”

“The short days, the brutal cold and the changing conditions will make Sweden a really well suited country for all-round talents like Jimmie. “ commented the president of the ROC Fredrik johnsson. “He doesn’t have a lot of experience with four-wheel drive, but he’s very good at off-road and at high speeds, so I’m sure he will adapt very quickly, like he did in 2002. “

In addition, his ROC starts in 2002 and 2004 were in the Rally category, which pitted him against regulars in the World Rally Championship. Gran Canaria’s track, built for rally cars, was made up of dirt on which Johnson and Gordon, the latter a former track racer, quickly adapted. On the other hand, the ROCs since 2004 take place in a paved stadium environment.

Pastrana, a rallycross driver and former full-time NASCAR member whose Nitro Rallycross series designed the FC1-X that the ROC will use in Sweden, described the snow / ice course as “Exactly what I expected. Jimmie and I had some bad luck in the 2006 and 2007 Nations Cup, but I think this type of track will be perfect for us.

All seven Johnson Cup championships are tied with Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt for most in series history, while his eighty-three wins are sixth. Since retiring from full-time Cup racing after 2020, he has competed in the NTT IndyCar Series, having just completed its first season, and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.


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