The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion could potentially return to stock car racing on a limited basis. Jimmie Johnson, who retired at the end of the 2020 season to pursue IndyCar, recently revealed that his “phone has been ringing some” regarding limited starts in the Cup Series.
Johnson made the comments to “The Charlotte Observer” prior to the NASCAR/IndyCar crossover weekend in Indianapolis. He explained that he remains open to climbing back into a stock car, provided he doesn’t go over 20 total races a year between IndyCar, IMSA, and NASCAR. Johnson also clarified that he had the option for a crossover based on driving for Chip Ganassi Racing, but it is no longer possible with Trackhouse Racing purchasing the team’s NASCAR operations.
“Right, that seemed like a very easy, logical path to come run some NASCAR events,” Johnson told “The Observer” ahead of the weekend in Indianapolis. “There’s the Hendrick Motorsports alliance, plus obviously driving the Ganassi IndyCar, so there’s the crossover. Now that opportunity is no longer there, but the phone has been ringing some. There is some interest from other NASCAR teams out there. I wish that the rules would allow Hendrick to run a fifth car because I would love to come back with Mr. Hendrick and moonlight a little bit in one of his cars, but I don’t know if there’s a realistic way to pull that off.”
Johnson Spent His Cup Career With Hendrick Motorsports
One of the most successful drivers in Cup Series history, Johnson racked up 83 wins during his 20-year career. This number places him sixth all-time on the wins list, behind five Hall of Famers. Richard Petty holds the top spot with 200 wins, followed by David Pearson (105), Jeff Gordon (93), Bobby Allison (84), and Darrell Waltrip (84).
Johnson began his Cup career as a part-time driver for Hendrick Motorsports, making three starts in the 2001 season. He made the leap to a full-time Cup schedule in 2002, taking over the No. 48 Chevrolet and winning the pole for the Daytona 500. Johnson proceeded to win three races as a rookie, notching his first win at Fontana and then winning twice at Dover International Speedway.
The future Hall of Famer spent his entire Cup career with HMS, winning seven titles and cementing his legacy in the sport. His list of standout seasons includes a 10-win campaign in 2007. Johnson also captured 12 Crown Jewels — two in the Daytona 500, four in the Brickyard 400, two in the Southern 500, and four in the Coca-Cola 600.
Johnson Announced a New Pursuit During His Final Season
The seven-time champion announced after the 2019 season that he would suit up for one more run with Hendrick Motorsports. 2020 would mark his final year in the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro and that he would retire from full-time Cup racing.
Johnson did not provide details about his plans at the time. Instead, he waited until the playoffs to reveal that he would pursue another form of racing. Johnson announced in September 2020 that he had signed a two-year deal with Chip Ganassi Racing to drive the No. 48 on the street and road courses.
While Johnson has gained experience behind the wheel of the Honda race car, he has also dealt with his fair share of struggles. He has failed to finish two races — Nashville and Belle Isle — and has only posted a season-best finish of 19th at Birmingham. Though he will be better prepared for his return to these courses during the 2022 season.