NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson has nine races remaining in his final Cup Series season. The seven-time champion is walking away from stock car racing, but he isn't leaving motorsports behind. Johnson is simply joining IndyCar and signing a deal with one of the biggest teams.
The driver of the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet posted a video on his Twitter account Wednesday morning and announced the move. He will join Chip Ganassi Racing and compete in IndyCar. In the clip, Johnson took practice laps in his future car and tested his skills on a different style of course. Funding for the team is still in progress, but Johnson is set to join five-time IndyCar champion, Scott Dixon, in order to form one of the most impressive teams on the circuit.
I will be soaking up the next nine weeks of my full time @NASCAR career. I’m sad to see it coming to an end but I’m excited to announce a future partnership with @CGRTeams in @IndyCar. pic.twitter.com/Y4VdVN0UP1— Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) September 9, 2020
"This is what I want to do in 2021," Johnson said in the video. "Now it's time to get to work and figure out where we can get the sponsorship for the team. What I experienced today, I checked that box. This is what I want to do in 2021-22."
With the session over and a deal in place, Johnson just needs to secure funding for an estimated 15 races. This schedule includes 12 road and street course events. He has only had two primary sponsors in his career — Lowes and Ally — throughout his 20-year NASCAR career. The latter of these two companies could potentially join Johnson for his new pursuit, but nothing is certain midway through his final Cup Series season.
"We have some options that are interested in taking those primary rights for all 12 races, but there could be a scenario where you break it off into three-to-four race blocs for sponsors in areas that are most important for them," Johnson explained. "But our goal is definitely to sell the primary spot to one and have that consistent look that I’ve had throughout my career. I personally would love to continue that."
According to the Associated Press, there is also an opportunity in this two-year deal for Johnson to actually compete in select Cup Series events. Chip Ganassi Racing runs a two-car team at NASCAR's top level. Kurt Busch drives the No. 1 Chevrolet Camaro for the team while Matt Kenseth is behind the wheel of the No. 42 Chevrolet Camaro after replacing Kyle Larson mid-season. However, the future of this car is unclear considering that Kenseth came out of retirement to help out CGR.
"Ganassi was highly motivated to give me a chance to drive a car to see what I thought and the experience was all that I hoped for and more," Johnson said. "I left a good impression with them where there's definitely interest on their side and now it's time to formalize things and get the ball rolling."