CHARLOTTE, NC (AP) – Seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmy Johnson has retired from racing full-time and will shift his focus toward spending time with family.
Draw his future schedule will not include more than 10 events for the bundle list, But the 47-year-old had no idea on Monday what that would look like in 2023.
Johnson told the Associated Press that he was excited about the announcement, “I have a white paper, and now we can see what opportunities exist and start making a calendar.” Carvana has already told Johnson that she will support any race he follows.
Johnson took two weeks of the IndyCar final – with a weekend in England with his Ganassi teammates Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti at Goodwood Revival – before finalizing his decision to back down. He told The Associated Press he doesn’t really need the time to think about his future.
“It was an interesting process to feel good about the experience and then try to make a decision,” Johnson said. “In the grand scheme of things there is a lot of planning for kids’ lives. We’ve always had the idea of trying to live abroad for a year or two. We love Colorado and want to spend more time there, and there are so many swirls on a personal and professional level that I just wanted to spend Take the time and make the decision not on the back of a positive or negative experience on the racetrack.”
So what is Johnson, who retired from NASCAR in 2020thinking?
The 24 Hours of Le Mans will be part of the NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports special “Garage 56” entry. Johnson has said from the start that he wants to be part of Le Mans’ three-driver lineup, even though it’s a next-generation show and the car will be alone in its class.
He’s been waiting for IndyCar’s 2023 schedule to see if he’ll be available, but he’ll ensure his schedule is clear if NASCAR wants a future Hall of Famer to be a part of the project.
Johnson will definitely not be returning for a full second IndyCar season with Chip Ganassi Racing. He only raced the street and road courses in 2021, added the ovals to run the full 2022 season, and is now unsure if he’ll ever run IndyCar.
“We fully support Jimmy. Team owner Ganassi, who told AP that he would like to run four cars full time, has been an important member of our team, and if we can find a way to continue working together, we would love to do that,” said team owner Ganassi, who told AP that he would like to run four cars full time. Johnson has decided not to drive for a full season at number 48, Ganassi is trying to figure out how to keep this entry on the right track.
Johnson struggled on street and road courses over two seasons, with his best showing on the ovals—a discipline that has dominated for nearly two decades in NASCAR. He finished fifth at IndyCar in Iowa, and although he eventually crashed out of his Indianapolis 500 debut, Johnson turned over 240 mph in an impressive qualifying performance.
“I have a desire to go back, it’s just at this point, I know what’s required to do a full schedule, and I don’t have that in me,” Johnson told the Associated Press. “I don’t have that passion for myself that I need to commit myself to an entire season.”
Johnson has said since retiring to NASCAR in 2020 that he will race again in the series at the right opportunity, and now he’s entertaining the idea of doing “The Double” – the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on the same day.
Kurt Busch was the last driver to attempt an epic 1,100-mile two-state ride in 2014. Busch fell 200 miles from completing it when his engine failed in a nearby NASCAR race. Tony Stewart, who has tried twice in both races, is the only driver to have done 1,100 miles. John Andretti and Robbie Gordon both made attempts before Bush.
Johnson would like to give it a try: He won the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway four times, including three straight wins from 2003-2005.
“You know me and endurance sports, and the doubles are great,” Johnson told the Associated Press. “I’ve always had respect for the guys who did the double. I would say it’s more of a respect thing than a bucket list item, and I’d like to put some energy into that idea and see if I can pull it off.”
Other NASCAR events that caught his attention? Next year’s inaugural race through the streets of downtown Chicago and the All-Star race in North Wilkesboro. Noted as a former winner, Johnson has earned an exemption in both the All-Star Race and the inaugural show season Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. However, NASCAR 2022 rules state that a driver must compete full-time to race in the All-Star Race.
The future in sports car racing is unknown for Johnson after the IMSA season ends at the end of this season’s Petit Le Mans. He’s spent the past two seasons running endurance racing in a joint venture with Hendrick and Action Express, but doesn’t expect enough stock next year when IMSA adopts new cars for Johnson’s project to continue.
He told the AP that he would consider racing in a lower IMSA class, such as the LMP2, and even was curious about the six-race World Endurance Championship. But the WEC series piques his interest due to its exotic locations – Monza, Italy, Fuji Speedway in Japan, Bahrain – and the love of international travel he shares with his wife and two young daughters.
He and Shani Johnson have explored enrolling their daughters in school in England or France for a year in order to experiment, and as a working father, Johnson plays an active role in transporting his daughters to and from their full schedule of sports and activities. Chaney Johnson is also a successful art gallery owner and is looking to expand her business.
“Chanye has always supported me up to the ninth grade and also at the same time had her goals and desires and continued her path and career. I think she is a cautious optimist and I am pursuing this plan,” Johnson told the Associated Press. “But these decisions are based on the needs and requirements of the family, and I think it is. It gets difficult and a bit more complicated in my schedule if we can get some momentum traveling and living abroad.
But these decisions will be issued in the next few months. So I will say this without any regrets. I look back and definitely learned lessons from what happened, good and bad. But I have no pit in my stomach for something unfinished, or any regrets I might have.”___
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