When the green flag waves on May 29, Jimmie Johnson will become just the 19th driver in motorsports history to compete in the Indianapolis 500 and the Brickyard 400. He joins a dynamic list of talented individuals that have driven in both events at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Only five of the current 18 drivers have ever won the Indy 500. Those legendary names include Juan Montoya, Sam Hornish Jr, Jacques Villeneuve, and of course AJ Foyt. The only driver on that list that has won the Brickyard 400 is Tony Stewart.

Johnson won the Brickyard 400 four times during his career, second only to Jeff Gordon's five victories. Now as a member of Chip Ganassi Racing, the 46-year old has an opportunity to make even more history next Sunday. Should Johnson win the 106th running, he would become the only person in history to have both Indy 500 and Brickyard 400 victories on his resume.

Montoya came close to accomplishing the feat back in 2007 in his first Brickyard start. Driving for Ganassi, Montoya started and finished in 2nd place. Though he started from pole in the 2010 race, he only had one more top-ten finish (9th) in his other seven starts.

When Johnson made his first IndyCar start on an oval in March at Texas, not many people knew what to expect. Jimmie himself admitted as such, but he performed exceptionally well, finishing 6th after starting back in 18th. This shouldn't come as a major surprise, as 82 of his 83 NASCAR Cup victories came on oval tracks.

A competitive Johnson in his first Indianapolis 500 will add another exciting element to the race. He showed speed during the Open Test in April, posting nice tow laps and 10-lap average speeds. He has never put any expectations on himself or the team, but he knows he will have a legitimate shot.

When asked by reporters if he could win the 500 this year, Johnson did not hesitate. "Why not? Let's dream big. The 500 is a special race. We've seen favorites win. We've seen the race won by strategy, first-time winners, a variety of different things that have taken place. I feel very excited about it. I know I'm going to have a great car."

Johnson has great teammates, as Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, and Dario Franchitti have all won this iconic race. Alex Palou won the title and finished 2nd at Indy last year. Ganassi has 14 series championships and four Indy 500 victories. The tools are all there. "I know I have the team. I am surrounded by great teammates. I feel like we'll have a great shot. I hope to exploit that and make the most of it."

Another factor that should motivate Johnson goes back to Independence Day two years ago. On July 3, Hendrick Motorsports announced that Jimmie returned a positive COVID-19 test, and would have to miss the Brickyard 400. It was a devastating blow, as he was aiming to tie Gordon with a fifth victory at IMS. Adding insult to injury, NASCAR was moving the race to the road course the next year, meaning Johnson would never get the farewell race like Gordon and Stewart received.

"I felt like with COVID I maybe didn’t get the full experience in my final year in Cup. Literally racing without fans for the majority of the year was a bummer and a letdown. But to come back to Indy and know that we’re going to have 300,000 people, that makes me smile. I can't wait to feel that energy on race day."

Now that he is back on the famed 2.5-mile oval, redemption is on Jimmie's mind. Still, he knows there is a lot to learn. When he first hit the track on Tuesday, Johnson waved to his father Gary, who is one of his spotters. It was a special moment for them both, as he was finally living out his childhood dream.

“I feel really good about it,” Johnson said about his maiden voyage. “I know my way around Indy. It’s a very cool sensation. Now I understand why when I’ve asked any of these guys what it’s like to go fast around here, they have a smile that I’ve always wondered what it’s like.”

It seems to have come full circle for Johnson, who is simply living out his dream. “I wanted to experience driving a really fast race car, really fast. Man, that's really boogey-ing. This is the reason I wanted to become an IndyCar driver."

The first day of practice went well for the Ganassi team, who had four cars inside the top six on the overall speed chart. Johnson was 3rd on that list, and 3rd on the no-tow chart as well. The cars were dialed in early, and now it just up to the drivers to hone in their skills. For Jimmie, that means learning and gaining experience.

"We have a really good race car," Johnson said on Tuesday. "It’s just trying to work through extremes for me. What is a low trim setting? What’s a high trim setting? What’s mechanically tight? What’s mechanically free? Just trying to work through some of those big-picture things. All in all, a really good day. I feel like where we ended in this session gives me a lot of confidence for working forward."

With a steady rain falling at the speedway on Wednesday, practice was a complete washout. This was the first time an entire day of Indy 500 practice was lost due to rain since May 17, 2016. Weather will certainly not be a concern as practice resumes Thursday at Noon ET and will run until 6 PM.