It’s All About the Timing

Before getting into today’s topic, I wanted to start on a personal note. The Indianapolis 500 lost a huge fan this week, and one of my best friends lost his father.

David Dalbey, father of Paul Dalbey of, passed away early Tuesday morning at the age of 81. He attended all but one Indianapolis 500 from 1954 through 2019, missing only 1965 due to military service.

I was fortunate enough to spend several Month of May dinners  with him over the years at Dawson’s, McGilvery’s Pub and other fine dining establishments near IMS. He joined right into the conversation and had stories of the Indianapolis 500 I had never heard before. He could have given Donald Davidson a run for his money in the story-telling department. If you’ve ever read any of his journals from each 500 posted on Paul’s site, you know what a true fan he was.

Please keep Paul and the entire Dalbey family in your prayers as they deal with the loss of a very fine gentleman.

Now, on to today’s topic…

Timing is everything, or so they say. I’m still trying to decided if I was lucky or unlucky to have run the Jimmie Johnson post on Monday. As most know by now, Jimmie Johnson announced on Monday morning that he was going to step away from racing fulltime in 2023 and focus on a few bucket-list items.

Johnson says he also wants to focus on his family. At age 47, can you blame him? Just after Johnson put his car in the Fast Twelve in qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 this past May, I took these photos of Johnson celebrating with his wife, Chandra (Chani), as well as his daughters – Evie and Lydia.



As I wrote on Monday, I was hoping Johnson would return for his second fulltime IndyCar season in 2023. While his comments on Monday closed the door on that possibility, Johnson was vague on what doors are still open for his racing career. Many say that the 24 Hours of Le Mans is high on his list of things to do in retirement. I can understand that. I think that is something that every racer wants to take part in at least once.

I’m really more interested in what Johnson does that involve the NTT IndyCar Series. Two seasons ago, Johnson drove the No. 48 Chip Ganassi Honda in the non-oval races only – road and street courses. This past season, he drove the entire IndyCar IndyCar season. I have been led to believe that if Johnson did not return to IndyCar, the No. 48 will be parked.

By saying he is retiring from fulltime racing, does that leave open the possibility that Johnson may do like Ed Carpenter and run the ovals only? Would Ganassi do another split-season with the No. 48 and hire another driver for the non-ovals? Johnson certainly performed much better on ovals than he did non-ovals, but if Ganassi cannot make it work financially – I can’t see him running the Carvana car for a partial season. It’s too hard to put together a crew for just a few races per season.

Would Jimmie Johnson want to come back for an Indianapolis 500 one-off? While I would like to think so, I think that itch was scratched last year. He proved he can qualify well, even though he bobbled the first lap on his pole run. While sitting in his rocking chair, he can tell his grandchildren that he led two laps in the Indianapolis 500 with only ten laps to go. He can probably leave out the fact that he crashed in Turn Two just three laps later.

While I am now skeptical that Johnson will ever drive an Indy car again, reports surfaced late Monday that if he were to drive in the Indianapolis 500, Johnson would like to do “the double” – racing in the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte on the same day. So far, only four drivers have attempted to double, with varying degrees of success: John Andretti, Tony Stewart, Robby Gordon and Kurt Busch.

I believe Stewart’s double in 2000 would be considered the most successful double – finishing ninth at Indianapolis and fourth at Charlotte that night. If Johnson were to become the fifth driver to do the double, he might compete at Indianapolis with Ganassi and at Charlotte with Rick Hendrick. He would undoubtedly have the best equipment (in my opinion) of any driver before him.

Based on what I wrote on Monday, most of you can surmise that I am disappointed in Jimmie Johnson’s decision. I am happy for him, but selfishly I would like to see him at least one more season in IndyCar.

Overall, I’m probably a little jealous too. How many of us can choose how we leave our chosen profession. While 47 is old for a driver, it is young in real life. What I wouldn’t give to be 47 again and have the financial resources and the time to pick and choose which events to participate in as I ease myself into retirement. I have just recently started looking at my own retirement from work, which may or may not happen in July of 2025. Whenever it does happen, it won’t be quite as tidy as Johnson’s.

Although his timing was not so great for my post on Monday, I’m happy for Jimmie Johnson. We should all be so lucky.


2 Responses to “It’s All About the Timing”

  1. Tim Lauffer Says:

    Condolences to Paul, family and friends. What an impressive record of attendance at the 500! Brings forth memories of my father. Godspeed David.

  2. billytheskink Says:

    Prayers for the Dalbey family. Mr. Dalbey’s journals are fascinating reading and inspired me to keep my own journal of my trip to the 2016 race.

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