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Michelin Pilot Challenge

Johnson: Racing Return “Like Being Back in the Office”

Michael Johnson is eager to make his 2018 race debut this weekend at Mid-Ohio…

Photo: Mike Levitt/IMSA

JDC-Miller Motorsports driver Michael Johnson says there are no lingering effects from the heavy crash he sustained in testing at Daytona International Speedway in January.

Johnson suffered a broken right tibia and fibula in the accident which sidelined him and the team for the first two races of the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge season.

JDC-Miller recently completed a test in their new Audi RS3 LMS TCR chassis at Blackhawk Farms Raceway near Chicago, and Johnson said it didn’t take long to get back up to speed.

“I’ve been waiting five months so it’s good to be back,” he told Sportscar365. “There might have been [some apprehension] deep in my mind the first couple of laps, but it’s like being back in the office. It felt good.

“I was watching Daytona when I was recovering, and Sebring. It was pretty difficult. Then Long Beach came around and I was watching that as well and just wanted to be back in the car.

“I’m behind the eight ball a little bit since everybody else has had five months, but I’m working as hard as I can to try to catch up.

“I feel really good. I feel like I did before. I’m just getting my skills honed in and sharpened up. This year, now that I’ve missed so much, is a big learning year for me and the car. Now it’s just time to improve for 2019.”

Johnson said the extent of the damage made it difficult to diagnose what caused the accident.

“We’re guessing that it might have been some kind of brake failure,” he said. “When the car came back it was so mangled that we couldn’t really tell. It was definitely something that was sudden.”

Johnson, who was paralyzed from the waist-down in a motorcycle crash at the age of 12, has raced in the open-wheel ranks and Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge in specially equipped race cars with hand controls.

He credited his doctors and trainers for the quick recovery and ability to be back behind the wheel in short order.

“After coming back from such a big crash at Daytona, coming back so soon, I put a lot of that towards my trainer Josh and all the doctors that helped get my body back to tip-top shape,” he said

“It was pretty intense in the fact that I couldn’t do anything. I had so much down time with the leg to let it heal, it was driving me crazy.

“Once I started to be able to do things, got the cast off, started being active again, it’s been good.”

Ryan Myrehn is an Indianapolis-based broadcaster and reporter. In addition to his work covering primarily domestic sports car racing for Sportscar365, he is the lead announcer for SRO America's TV coverage as well as a pit reporter for IndyCar Radio. Myrehn, a graduate of DePauw University, is also the host of Sportscar365's “Double Stint” Podcast.

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