Johnson returns to NASCAR as owner-driver


Jimmie Johnson. Picture: Jimmie Johnson Twitter

Seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson will return to the sport as an owner-driver with Petty GMS Motorsports next year.

Johnson will take part in select NASCAR Cup Series events in 2023, including the 65th Daytona 500.

The 47-year-old retired from the series at the end of the 2020 season, after collecting 83 wins from 686 starts with Hendrick Motorsports.

Following NASCAR, Johnson went onto compete in the IndyCar Series, driving for Chip Ganassi Racing in 2021 and 2022.

After two less-than-stellar seasons in the open-wheeler category, he announced that he was semi-retired from driving altogether.

However, the opportunity to own a stock car racing team proved to be a major drawcard in his NASCAR return.

“It’s great to be back in NASCAR,” Johnson declared.

“When the IndyCar season ended I started on this journey of what was next.

“Maury [Gallagher] and I connected, this opportunity came to light and it’s the perfect fit for me.

“Team ownership makes so much sense at this stage of my career and after spending time with Maury and his family, talking with Mike [Beam], Dave [Elenz, crew chief of the #43], and Joey [Cohen, Director of Competition and Engineering], I realised this was something I wanted to be involved with from both the business perspective and on the competition side.

“If I’m going to commit to something like this, I want to make a difference and have something tangible to show for it when it’s all said and done. So, this opportunity with Petty GMS is all of that and much more.”

Johnson will head a young line-up, joining 26-year-old NASCAR Cup Series race winner Erik Jones, as well as 24-year-old NASCAR Xfinity Series graduate Noah Gragson.

“I’m fortunate that I had incredible mentors throughout my life, and I’ve always tried to pay that forward,” he added.

“My experience and energy will add value to a team with young drivers like Erik and Noah – I feel like I can be a good resource both on and off the track.”

His entire racing programme, livery, and car number will be revealed at a later date.

Johnson’s announcement precedes the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race, which will take place at Phoenix Raceway on Sunday, November 6 at 15:00 local time/Monday 07:00 AEDT.

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