Jimmie Johnson, a seven-time NASCAR champion, is giving up full-time racing and will instead prioritise spending time with his family.
The 47-year-old estimates that no more than 10 of the things on his bucket list will be in his future calendar, but he was unsure of that timetable on Monday.
Johnson told The Associated Press that he was happy to announce that “we can now examine what opportunities exist and start constructing a calendar” since “I’ve got a blank sheet of paper.” Sponsor Carvana has already assured Johnson that it will support him in whichever racing he enters.
Before deciding to pull down, Johnson waited two weeks after the IndyCar championship race, including a weekend spent in England at the Goodwood Festival of Speed with Ganassi colleagues Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti. He admitted to the AP that he didn’t actually require the time to consider his options.
Johnson remarked that it had been “an unusual process” to feel so satisfied with the experience while yet attempting to make a choice. “In the grand scheme of things, the youngsters are planning their entire lives. We’ve always considered attempting to spend a year or two living overseas. There is simply so much going on emotionally and professionally that I just wanted to take some time and make the decision without basing it on a good or bad experience on the racetrack. We love Colorado and want to spend more time there.
What is Johnson, who left NASCAR in 2020, thinking at this point?
The unique “Garage 56” entry from NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports would compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Johnson has declared he wants to be a part of the three-driver Le Mans lineup from the beginning, despite the fact that the race will serve as a display for the Next Gen and the vehicle will be unique in its class.
He had been waiting for the 2023 IndyCar calendar to see whether he would even be available, but if NASCAR wants its potential Hall of Famer to be involved in the project, he will make sure his schedule is free.
Johnson will undoubtedly not join Chip Ganassi Racing for a second full IndyCar season. He competed in 2021 on just the street and road courses, added the ovals to compete the entire 2022 season, and is currently unsure if he will compete in IndyCar at all.
“Jimmie has our complete backing. We would like to continue working with him if we can because he has been a valuable component of our squad, according to team owner Ganassi.
Over the course of two seasons, Johnson struggled on the street and the road courses, with his greatest results coming on ovals, the track type he dominated for over two decades in NASCAR. Johnson drove laps at almost 240 mph in an impressive qualifying effort, and even though he ultimately wrecked out of his Indianapolis 500 debut, he finished sixth in the IndyCar standings at Iowa.
Johnson told the Associated Press, “I do have a desire to go back, but at this time, I know what’s necessary to do a full schedule, and I don’t have it in me. “I don’t have the enthusiasm I need for myself to commit to a full season,” the speaker said.
Johnson has stated that he would return to NASCAR competition given the appropriate chance since announcing his retirement from the series in 2020, and he is now considering performing “the double” by competing in both the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on the same day.
2014 saw Kurt Busch try the 1,100-mile, two-state trip as the last driver. Busch’s NASCAR closer engine failure prevented him from finishing it by 200 miles. The only driver to cover the entire 1,100 miles is Tony Stewart, who made two attempts in each event. Before Busch, Robby Gordon and John Andretti both tried.
Johnson is willing to give it a go because he has four victories in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, including three straight triumphs from 2003 to 2005.
Johnson told the AP, “You know me and endurance sports, and the double sounds amazing. “I’ve always respected the men who have pulled off the double. I believe it is more of a matter of respect than a wish-list item, and I’d love to put some effort into that concept to see if I can pull it off.
What other NASCAR race has his attention? The debut race through Chicago’s downtown streets and the All-Star race in North Wilkesboro are scheduled for the following year. In addition to the All-Star game, Johnson highlighted that the exhibition season-opening Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is exempt from entry since he had previously won.
After this weekend’s IMSA Petit Le Mans, Johnson’s future in sports car racing is uncertain. Johnson has competed in the endurance races during the previous two seasons in a team effort with Hendrick and Action Express, but he doesn’t think there will be enough cars available when IMSA switches to new models the next year for Johnson’s initiative to continue.
He admitted to the AP that he would think about competing in a lesser IMSA division, such as LMP2, and that he is even interested in the six-race World Endurance Championship. However, he is intrigued by the WEC Series because of its exotic locations, such as Bahrain, Monza, Italy, and Fuji Speedway in Japan, as well as the fact that he enjoys travelling abroad with his wife and two young girls.
As a hands-on parent, Johnson actively participates in transporting his children to and from their busy schedule of sports and extracurricular activities. He and his wife, Chani Johnson, have discussed sending their daughters to school for a year in either England or France for the experience. The successful owner of an art gallery, Chani Johnson, is also seeking to grow her company.
“Chani has always supported me wholeheartedly while simultaneously having her own goals, aspirations, and pursuing her own career path. If I carry out this strategy, I believe she is cautiously hopeful,” Johnson told the AP. However, these choices must take into account the requirements and needs of the family. If we can make progress on travel and living abroad, I believe it will be difficult and a little more difficult on my schedule.
But those are choices that will be made over the next months. So, I would say, I enter this with no regrets. I have undoubtedly learnt lessons from the past, both good and terrible. However, I don’t feel any remorse or a pit in my stomach from an unfulfilled task.