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Jimmie Johnson Returns To NASCAR: What’s He Been Up To?

Joining Petty GMS Motorsports as a co-owner, Jimmie Johnson will also suit up for the occasional NASCAR race. 

By Andrew Woodin
Former NASCAR driver, Jimmie Johnson (R) speaks to the media announcing he has invested in an ownership stake in the Petty GMS Motorsports as team owner, and NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty looks on

What’s better than having one seven-time Cup Series Champion at the helm of your team? Having two of course. OG wheelman Jimmie Johnson is joining forces with racing legend Richard Petty as a co-owner of Petty GMS and not only that, but Johnson will also suit up and strap in for the occasional race in a spectacle that will surely excite fans and strike fear in the heart of his competition. After all, it’s not every day you square off against a seven-time champion.   

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Though he’s been retired from NASCAR since 2020, the 47-year-old hasn’t exactly been kicking back and taking it easy. Johnson’s been trading paint in a full-time IndyCar schedule for Chip Ganassi Racing as well competing in several prestigious IMSA endurance races. He even participated in the Goodwood Festival of Speed and, earlier this year, he raced in his inaugural Indianapolis 500 where he finished 28th after an incident spoiled his debut.

"When I left here, I really had no idea what was in store for me," Johnson revealed this past Friday at a press conference. "I knew I wanted to try IndyCar, and an amazing experience there, and stepping away from full-time IndyCar, I wanted to create, get an eight-to-10 race schedule, just really fun races, and certainly coming back to NASCAR.”

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"As this conversation started, it's one that I really had to pay close attention to, an offer, an opportunity that's just a life-changing opportunity for me and one that I had to take,” he continued. “So, I'm very excited about this."

It's an excitement, Johnson explaineed, that grew from his appreciation for the business elements he learned while driving for Chip Ganassi Racing in IndyCar.

“[Chip Ganassi’s] been really helpful for me in my process of bringing partners into the sport and being in IndyCar and has been very kind to show me behind the scenes what takes place and how things work,” Johnson noted at Friday’s presser. “I know Mr. Hendrick always had that available for me, but I was never interested. I was too busy driving and focused on that.”

“In the last couple of years, I’ve been more interested in the business side,” he added. “I’ve done a lot of growing there and [had] help from a lot of areas and certainly from Chip.”

Though he’ll be spending plenty of time behind the wheel of NASCAR’s Next Gen car with GMS Motorsports teammates Erik Jones and Noah Gragson, Johnson clearly has no intention of pumping the brakes on his other racing endeavors, such as potentially participating in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.

"[I’m] still interested in the sports car, IndyCar," Johnson added. "I've got an awesome opportunity to race an off-road truck if I want. Alex Bowman has offered me a Chili Bowl ride. The invites keep coming in.”

Joining a growing list of racers-turned-owners, headlined by Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin, Johnson credits the career pivot to his natural instinct.

"My 2023 plans started very traditional,” Johnson said. "Then when the idea was presented to me by Michael Bill… It just started to feel right, and it's really a gut feel.”

"I think that gut feel supersedes any logical thought of what other stories I've heard about being a team owner and jokes that I've heard Mr. Hendrick make over the years,” continued Johnson. “It got to a point where this was a gut feel that I wanted to be a part of it, and I want to do this."

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