NASCAR welcomes Jimmie Johnson back as a part-owner and driver

As part-owner of Petty GMS, Jimmie Johnson will also enter about five Cup races as he returns in 2023 to the series that made him a global motorsports star.

Johnson declared that the Daytona 500, where he has tasted success on two occasions, will be his initial race as an owner. “I’ve been keeping an eye on what has been happening with NASCAR, regarding ownership, and I was so impressed by the business structure and model based on the charters”, explained Johnson to The Associated Press. “I could not resist being part of it. People like Michael Jordan entering or Trackhouse Racing and other rumors of people wanting to join have been very encouraging. I am really grateful and humbled to be a part of this journey.”

Johnson, who turned 47 in September, is still working on his car number, sponsors – and maybe even the current name of Petty GMS. He’d love if NASCAR made him eligible for the 2023 All-Star race at North Wilkesboro Speedway, a race he’s won four times, and he’d love to win the Coca-Cola 600.

In addition, Johnson said he still wants to run the Indianapolis 500 and Coke 600 on the same day, but is putting it on hold while Chip Ganassi shapes the organization Johnson left after two seasons ago. However, even if he were to get an Indy 500 ride, the All-Star race would conflict with qualifying. And because he owns a Chevrolet team, he would theoretically not be able to race for Ganassi, a Honda team.

In his Indy 500 debut in May, Johnson proved decent on the ovals – he skipped them in his first season – but he struggled on the road and street courses. At the end of the season, he admitted to being burnt out. As a NASCAR representative, he is aiming to attend about 10 events on his bucket list, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

He insisted he had no idea what he wanted to do next when he decided to step down in late September. As a result of conversations initiated by the management firm shared by Johnson and Erik Jones, the Petty GMS driver he just inherited, Johnson took about six weeks to get back into NASCAR.

AP reports Johnson alerted Rick Hendrick and Jeff Gordon of his plans after the GMS deal developed out of the blue. Johnson drove 20 years for Hendrick and won 83 Cup races in the No. 48 Chevrolet.

This truly is a remarkable day for our sport, as Jimmie takes on a new role as team owner. His drive and determination that made him an all-time great champion will undoubtedly help him be successful in this endeavor. When the green flag drops at Daytona 500 and we see Jimmie in his firesuit with his name on the roof of a Chevy, it’ll be a special moment for everyone who has followed his career. Going up against him will definitely present a challenge to us, but we welcome Jimmie back to NASCAR and are excited to see what comes next!

Johnson is tied with Hall of Famers, Richard Petty and the late Dale Earnhardt, with seven championships. On Friday at Phoenix Raceway, he declared this goal alongside GMS founder Maury Gallagher – who is also the same place Johnson retired from NASCAR in 2020. It was a momentous day as Chase Elliott claimed the Cup title and Johnson finished fifth among non-title contenders. Since that finale, Johnson has fully committed himself to pursuing his IndyCar dream.

With Petty GMS, an upstart two-car team backed by Gallagher, Allegiant Air chairman, and fronted by Petty, he gets back in. In September, Jones won 200 races in the famed No. 43 car, and the team had already decided to switch Ty Dillon for Noah Gragson next season before this deal was struck. Jones won 200 races in the famed No. 43 car in September.


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