No driver has ever dominated the NASCAR Cup Series the way Jimmie Johnson did throughout his career.

After a record-tying seven championships – including a virtually untouchable record of five consecutive titles between 2006 and 2010 – Johnson knew the timing was right for a new challenge.

And it’s become very clear that NASCAR’s GOAT is already making a big impression in IndyCar.

Prior to the 2020 season, Jimmie Johnson announced that it would be his final season competing full-time in the Cup Series.

By the fall of that year, he announced that he would be signing with Chip Ganassi Racing to compete in IndyCar’s 13 road course and street circuit events, fulfilling a childhood dream of driving in the series.

“I want to do this more than ever before,” Johnson said at the time. “It was something new, something different. NASCAR has been so good to me. And I am so proud of the success I’ve had. But to try something new, man, this was really cool.”

Since then, Johnson has been working overtime to get up to speed with his new team, and become acclimated to his new ride.

And if some of IndyCar’s top drivers are to be believed – they do know a thing or two, after all – Johnson is already making a major impression on his new competition.

“Jimmie’s appetite for details and work, him and Scott [Dixon] are very similar in that way,” four-time IndyCar champion and three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti said in a recent interview. “I like to think I was like that. I love details. The more details you can give me, the harder you have to work, that’s fine. Jimmie’s that guy. ”

Franchitti, who retired from IndyCar in 2013 and currently serves as an advisor to Chip Ganassi Racing’s drivers, also indicated that despite 20 years of developing near perfect stock car habits, Johnson is doing what it takes to be just as good in an IndyCar.

“He’s closed the gap to where he needs to be,” Franchitti said. “Percentage-wise, he’s getting to those last few tenths. He’s trying to recalibrate 20 years of driving stock cars. He’s not coming from zero, he’s coming from less than zero because of his stock car habits.

“Talent-wise, you’ve seen what he’s done,” Franchitti continued. “It’s ridiculous. He’s got so much talent. His work ethic is incredible.”

Johnson’s efforts in IndyCar have also caught the attention of three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves, who has come away impressed by what he’s seen from the NASCAR legend in preseason testing.

“First of all, incredible. I can see that he’s passionate about it,” Castroneves said. “I believe he felt his time in NASCAR, probably it was time for him to move to something else. He decided to achieve this challenge. By the way, which is a huge challenge for someone entire life working with a heavier car, different type of car, and going to a very fast one, which is an IndyCar.”

Castroneves, who is also nearing the end of his career and plans to race a limited schedule similar to Johnson, also said if there’s anyone who’s capable of making this transition late in his career, it’s Jimmie Johnson.

“First of all, I admire people like that because they like to challenge themselves and go for it,” Castroneves said. “Second, I know Jimmie for a long time. He’s a good friend of mine. I know how he feels because even I had that experience for so many years going back (when I started). It feels a little bit overwhelming; so much to learn, so many things to do.

“Once you’re a champion like him, I don’t feel that he’s going to have any [problems] — especially having the teammates he has with Scott Dixon, that he can learn so much, it will definitely help,” Castroneves continued.

“Yeah, maybe one or a few races or tests might (not go) the way probably he wants. But trust me, he will figure it out. For the beginning of the season, he’ll be ready.”

Alexander Rossi, a seven-time winner in IndyCar and 2016 Indy 500 winner who has made a similar transition in his career, knows the challenge Johnson has ahead of him, but also knows that there’s no reason to doubt Jimmie Johnson.

“I know the struggles that he’s going to have coming over to the other side and relearning or unteaching, I guess, habits that have made him a seven-time NASCAR Cup champion,” Rossi said. “A lot of those driving styles and characteristics aren’t going to apply anymore. And that’s a huge thing to overcome, especially with the limited amount testing.”

“Like everything that Jimmie does, he’s doing it in the best possible way and spending the time,” Rossi continued. “And he has the people around him to help him succeed.”

“It’ll be an interesting ride for him, but, you know, I think he’s doing everything correct so far at this point.”

For many drivers who have had the level of success in one discipline as Johnson had in NASCAR, taking on such a challenge late in their career would be out of the question.

The fear of failing and tarnishing a flawless legacy isn’t a road most are willing to go down, but that’s what makes Jimmie Johnson different.

He literally has nothing else to prove in the world of motorsports, as he’s already viewed around the world as one of the greatest racers of all-time.

That’s not going to stop Jimmie Johnson, though.

And as he’s proven time and time again over the past 20 years, there’s no reason to ever bet against the GOAT.

Sports with Balls will keep you up-to-date on any developments to this ongoing story.