Jimmie Johnson says he would love to get the chance to sample Formula 1 machinery in the near future, following his first road course win in the Sprint Cup series last week at Sonoma.
The reigning champion claimed his first victory at a non-oval track last Sunday, as the main rival to Marcos Ambrose for most of the distance until the Australian stalled his car during the final caution, handing Johnson victory.
Johnson says his career path took him in a different way to single-seater racing, which was what he dreamed of when he was a kid growing up in California. He reckons it won't be easy for him to get the chance to try out an F1 car eventually, but believes a "creative" commercial approach may allow that to happen.
Back in 2003, BMW was involved in arranging a car swap at Indianapolis between Juan Pablo Montoya and four-time Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon, who drove the BMW Williams FW25. Although for Gordon it has been his only F1 experience, Montoya ended up joining the NASCAR ranks three years after first sampling Gordon's Chevy Monte Carlo.
"The way I grew up, Indy car racing was the only asphalt exposure I had," Johnson said. "So I dreamed of racing in the Indy 500 – we'd go to the Long Beach Grand Prix and hoped that I'd be on that circuit racing at some point.
"My path has clearly taken me in a different way and I know it would be very difficult to get an F1 test, but maybe putting it out there and being creative, it could happen."
The 34-year-old has been working hard at improving his capabilities on road courses, taking part in several Grand-Am races in the Daytona Prototype class. He believes an F1 or even an IndyCar test would allow him to further improve his technique.
"Even driving an IndyCar – I know ovals aren't the safest thing, but just to experience that on a road course would be really good for me," Johnson added. "I think running a Grand-Am car has helped me be a better road course racer and that would be another step up from that. It would be faster speed, deeper braking zones, the capabilities of the car, how it turns in. I think the Grand-Am series has been real good for me and going faster yet would make it even better."