Seven time NASCAR Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson has announced that the 2020 racing season would be his final season as a full time NASCAR Cup drivers.
On September 9, 2020; Johnson has announced he has already made some plans for the 2021 season. Johnson will continue to race, only not in a NASCAR Cup car. Johnson has signed a two year contract with Ganassi Racing in hopes of moving from stock cars to the open wheeled Indy cars.
Before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic that shut everything down in March, Johnson was going to make a run in an IndyCar during the doubleheader weekend of NASCAR and IndyCar at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He eventually got to make his test run at IMS in July.
Johnson spoke on that test and his plans saying, “when I tested Chip’s Indy car earlier in the year, it only lit the fire more. found that I wanted to do it more than ever before. … As part of a natural progression, I wanted to publicly show the alignment with Chip Ganassi Racing to kick the sponsorship program into high gear. The goal is to run the full road and street program, and today is a very important first step in accomplishing that goal.”
Ganassi Racing owner Chip Ganassi also spoke on the new partnership saying, “it is always difficult to find great drivers but for them to be great guys too makes it even that much more challenging. To pair Jimmie with the likes of Scott Dixon is quite an opportunity. They are truly in rarified air and I think everyone knows by now that ‘I like winners.’ The goal right now is for us to run Jimmie in an Indy car for at least the next couple of seasons, and we want to show people we’re serious about the program. We felt it was important to get the partnership done and start putting the financial building blocks in place to make this a reality. Jimmie’s record speaks for itself and we feel a championship-level driver of his caliber can only make our team better.”
The switch to IndyCar and Chip Ganassi also allows Johnson to run some of the most prominent races in NASCAR if he chooses to do so.
Johnson has spent 20 years driving a Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports. The switch to Ganassi and Honda marks the first time Johnson makes a car owner or car manufacturer change.
Along with his seven championships, Johnson has won 83 races in his NASCAR Cup career, placing him sixth on the all time win list and one of only three active drivers in the top 10.
This is not the first time that Chip Ganassi has signed a driver to cross racing series. In 2006 Formula One driver Juan Pablo Montoya moved over to NASCAR and in 2008 Dario Franchitti took a break from IndyCar to run NASCAR.
feature photo credit: By Zach Catanzareti – https://www.flickr.com/photos/58980992@N03/43095960194, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=85590887