Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson is out of this weekend’s Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway after testing positive for COVID-19.
Johnson had not displayed symptoms, according to his Hendrick Motorsports team, but sought testing after his wife Chandra tested positive for the coronavirus.
“My first priority is the health and safety of my loved ones and my team-mates,” he said in a release from the team.
“I’ve never missed a race in my Cup career, but I know it’s going to be very hard to watch from the sidelines when I’m supposed to be out there competing.
“Although this situation is extremely disappointing, I’m going to come back ready to win races and put ourselves in playoff contention.”
Team owner Rick Hendrick declared, “Jimmie has handled this situation like the champion he is.
“We’re relieved he isn’t showing symptoms and that Chani is doing great, and we know he’ll be back and ready to go very soon.
“It’s going to be difficult for him to be out of the car and away from his team, but it’s the right thing to do for Jimmie and everyone involved.”
Justin Allgaier will fill the breach in the #48 Chevrolet on Sunday afternoon (local time), while another travelling crew member has been sidelined for the time being due to being in close contact with Johnson.
NASCAR outlined the 44-year-old’s pathway back to racing in its own statement.
“Following the guidelines outlined in the Event Operations Protocols manual, Jimmie Johnson has alerted NASCAR that he has tested positive for COVID-19,” it affirmed.
“NASCAR has outlined the steps for Johnson’s return, in accordance with the CDC’s current guidelines, which includes that Johnson is symptom-free and has two negative COVID-19 test results, at least 24 hours apart.
“NASCAR requires Johnson to be cleared by his physician before returning to racing.
“Jimmie is a true battle-tested champion, and we wish him well in his recovery.
“NASCAR has granted Jimmie a playoff waiver, and we look forward to his return as he races for an eighth NASCAR Cup Series championship.”
Kevin Harvick leads the series while Johnson is 12th, without a win to his name in the season to date.