December 3, 2022

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Jimmy Johnson returns to NASCAR as part owner and driver

Jimmy Johnson returns to NASCAR as part owner and driver

AVONDALE, Arizona. NASCAR Jimmy Johnson retired and the IndyCar trial lasted both seasons.

The seven-time NASCAR Champion returns in 2023 to the series that made him a global motorsport superstar as the partial owner of Petty GMS. He will also enter about five Cup races.

Johnson told the Associated Press that his first race would be the season’s inaugural Daytona 500, where he won twice.

Johnson told the AP. “I want to be a part of it. We’ve definitely seen Michael Jordan join, what Trackhouse Racing has done, and there are all these rumors of people wanting to be in the sport.

“I am honored and thankful to be a part of it.”

His car number, sponsors — and perhaps even the current Petty GMS name — are all work in progress for Johnson, who turned 47 in September.

On the awards list is the Coca-Cola 600, a race he’s won four times, and NASCAR would love to make him eligible for the 2023 All-Star race at North Wilkesboro Speedway in North Carolina.

Johnson also said he still wanted to do “The Double” at the Indianapolis 500 and Coke 600 on the same day, but is on hold as Chip Ganassi formed the organization that Johnson left after two seasons. But, even if an Indy 500 ride came true, the All-Star race would conflict with qualifying for the Indy 500. He’s now a partial owner of the Chevrolet team, so that would theoretically prevent him from racing for Ganassi, Team Honda.

Johnson made his Indy 500 debut in May, and although he proved himself fit in the IndyCar oval — he skipped his first season — the road and street courses were a struggle and he admitted he was exhausted by the end of the full season. he is He said he would be dropping out of racing full time and was looking forward to a bucket list of about 10 events, Most likely including the 24 Hours of Le Mans as a NASCAR Representative.

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When he reached the decision to step down in late September, Johnson insisted he had no idea what he wanted to do next.

It took about six weeks for Johnson to return to NASCAR through conversations initiated by the joint management company between Johnson and Eric Jones, the Petty GMS driver he had just inherited.

Johnson said he had not had any conversations with Hendrick Motorsports about ownership opportunities as the GMS deal suddenly came together. He told the Associated Press that Rick Hendrick and Jeff Gordon were alerted to his plans. Johnson drove 20 years with Hendrik and won 83 races in the 48th Chevrolet Cup.

“This is an amazing day for our sport. Jimmy is one of the all-time great champions on the racetrack, and I know he will apply the same mindset to his role as a team owner,” Hendrick said in a statement. … The name on the Chevrolet roof at the Daytona 500 will be very special to many people. Competing against him would certainly be a huge change and challenge, but we welcome him back to NASCAR and look forward to the next chapter of a truly great career.”

Johnson’s seven championships associate him with Richard Petty and the late Dale Earnhardt, both Hall of Famers. He made his announcement with GMS founder Murray Gallagher Friday at Phoenix Raceway, where he retired from NASCAR after the end of the 2020 season. Hendrick Motorsports’ torch was passed on that day when Chase Elliott won the cup—Johnson finished fifth, the top non-title contender—and began Johnson is chasing his dream in IndyCar. He has not attended a NASCAR race since the end of 2020.

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Now he wants to come back with a bigger piece of work. He gets it with Petty GMS, a cocky two-car team funded by Gallagher, president of Allegiant Air, and is faced by Petty.

Jones in September gave The King his 200th win in the popular 43rd car, and before that deal was struck, the team had already decided to dump Ty Dillon for controversial Noah Gregson next season.

The speed with which the deal was completed has been astonishing for both Gallagher and Johnson, and Gallagher told the AP that Johnson, like RFK Racing’s Brad Keselowski, had bought his stake in the team financially and would not be a sham.

“Jimmy is just a wonderful guy, and at my older age, I value relationships as much as anything else,” Gallagher told The Associated Press. “I am more of a background. I want Jimmy and Richard to be the face of the organization, helping with the economy and operations is just a big bonus.”

GMS has grown in about a decade from a Truck Series team to a first-year cup organization that has acquired the 85-year-old Richard Petty Motorsports and Hall of Fame. Although Jones was competitive and won at Darlington, he did not qualify, and Gallagher said GMS was overshadowed by Justin Marks, who in his second season as owner of Trackhouse Racing has driver Ross Chastain in the championship race on Sunday.

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AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing and https://twitter.com/AP–Sports