Jimmie Johnson, 47, is set to return to the NASCAR family after announcing his retirement from full-time racing only in September.
The seven-time NASCAR champion announced last week that he is returning to the Cup Series, not only as a driver but also a part owner of Petty GMS, a team which also calls fellow seven-time NASCAR champion Richard Petty as a part owner.
Johnson plans to return in 2023, though only on a limited schedule, thus allowing him to fulfil his promise of spending more time with his family, which was one of the reasons behind his decision to retire from full-time racing.
His first race in 2023 will be the Daytona 500, scheduled for Feb. 19.
Johnson also said he remains open to opportunities in IndyCar and sports car racing if the right one emerges and fits his schedule. He also said racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans is still a possibility, perhaps behind the wheel of the modified NASCAR Next Gen race car that Hendrick Motorsports plans to enter as a special Garage 56 entry in next year’s race.
Johnson had already retired from NASCAR after the 2020 season and has since competed primarily in IndyCar with Chip Ganassi Racing, though he hasn’t found as much success in the new venture as his former one, with fifth place being his best finish.
Nevertheless, Johnson’s racing career has been nothing short of historic. He holds the record for the most consecutive Cup Series championships (five, from 2006 to 2010), and is one of only three drivers with seven Cup Series championships, along with Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt. Like Petty and Earnhardt, Johnson won all seven of his championships racing for the same team—in his case, driving the number 48 Chevrolet of Hendrick Motorsports.
Given Johnson’s extensive ties with Hendrick Motorsports, the new partnership with Petty GMS seems like an unlikely one. However, NASCAR limits the number of teams a single organization can run at four, and Hendrick is already at that limit with its teams fielded for Alex Bowman, William Byron, Chase Elliott, and Kyle Larson.
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