Welcome back, Jimmie.
Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson has joined Petty GMS as a co-owner and part-time driver in a deal revealed Friday morning at a press conference in the Phoenix Raceway media center ahead of Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race (3 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Johnson is working out his driving schedule for 2023 but confirmed he’ll attempt to qualify for the Feb. 19 Daytona 500 as he tries to add to his total of 83 Cup victories, tied with Cale Yarborough for sixth all-time. Johnson is a two-time winner of the Great American Race.
Petty GMS, whose ownership also includes NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty and majority owner Maury Gallagher, also will field Chevrolets for full-time Cup drivers Erik Jones and newcomer Noah Gragson next year, as well as for Grant Enfinger in the Truck Series.
“I’m pinching myself sitting up here with this kind of talent and this kind of record,” Gallagher said. “And I can honestly say that, while we didn’t anticipate having this kind of talent up here, it was never not a goal. We want to be at the top.”
Johnson ran a full schedule in the IndyCar Series with Chip Ganassi Racing this year and is open to racing both IndyCars and sports cars in addition to his part-time NASCAR schedule in 2023. But the return to NASCAR racing as an owner and a driver is a homecoming for the future Hall of Famer.
“Honestly, it feels incredible,” Johnson said. “I must say, I did not see this in my future. This is an opportunity that developed that in so many ways and for so many reasons, an opportunity that I wanted to be a part of, and I’m very excited to be a part of.
“The last time I was really at a NASCAR race was here in 2020, other than the double at the IndyCar Brickyard race. When I left here, I really didn’t know what was in store for me. I wanted to try IndyCar and had an amazing experience there…
“As this conversation started, it was really something that I had to pay close attention to—just a life-changing opportunity, and I’m really excited about this.”
From 2001 through 2020, Johnson competed in 686 races for Hendrick Motorsports—the entirety of his Cup career to date. Team owner Rick Hendrick will have to get used to seeing Johnson in a car other than the No. 48 Chevrolet.
“This is a tremendous day for our sport,” Hendrick said about Johnson’s return. “Jimmie is one of the all-time great champions on the race track, and I know he’ll apply the same mentality to his role as a team owner. When he sets his mind to something, the level of commitment and work ethic he brings is unsurpassed.
“Seeing Jimmie in a firesuit with his name on the roof of a Chevrolet at the Daytona 500 is going to be very special for a lot of people. Competing against him will certainly be a change, and a big challenge, but we welcome his return to NASCAR and look forward to the next chapter of a truly remarkable career.”