cloudy.png
Sunday December 8th, 2019 12:55PM

7-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson to retire after 2020

By Jenna Fryer-AP Auto Racing Writer
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Jimmie Johnson sat down next to Jeff Gordon at a 2001 driver meeting and asked the champion if he had time to offer any career advice.

Gordon was so impressed with the fellow California native that he encouraged Rick Hendrick to start a team built specifically for the 25-year-old Johnson.

It turned into one of the greatest hires in NASCAR history and nudged Gordon aside as the most dominant driver on the track. Now Johnson will follow Gordon and many other NASCAR superstars into retirement as the seven-time champion announced Wednesday he will retire from full-time competition after next season.

The 44-year-old Johnson joins an exodus of popular drivers that began when Gordon retired after the 2015 season. Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, Danica Patrick and Jamie McMurray are among those who followed Gordon out the door.

Johnson, the winningest driver of his era, said in a video posted to his social media and titled “(hash)Chasing8 one final time” that next season will be his final attempt to win a record eighth Cup title. It will be his 19th season in the No. 48 Chevrolet.

“I am so thankful for 18 incredible years of racing in NASCAR,” Johnson said in the black-and-white video comprised of highlights from his career. “This sport has been good to me and allowed me to do something I truly love. I showed up chasing a dream and achieved more than I thought possible. I am looking forward to next season and celebrating what will be my last year as a full-time Cup driver. I know what this team is capable of and I hope 2020 is one of the best yet.”

Johnson scheduled a Thursday news conference at Hendrick Motorsports to discuss his decision. He joins Gordon and Earnhardt Jr. as Hendrick drivers who have called it a career since 2015.

Reaction was immediate from drivers, as well as retired cyclist Lance Armstrong and seven-time Supercross champion Jeremy McGrath.

“Proud of you, bro,” Armstrong wrote. “And even prouder to call you a friend. Let’s go get #8.”

Gordon wrote that Johnson is “a class act & true champion on & off track” while current Hendrick teammate Chase Elliott was among the many young drivers to refer to Johnson as the greatest of all time with an emoji of a goat.

Johnson had two years remaining on his contract when new sponsor Ally signed on before this season to replace Lowe’s, which had sponsored Johnson from his 2001 debut through 2018. Ally last month announced a three-year extension to sponsor the No. 48, but Johnson’s future was not tied to the renewal through 2023.

“Jimmie Johnson is a legend in racing, the epitome of class and the ultimate representative of our brand,” said Andrea Brimmer, Chief Marketing and PR Officer at Ally. “We are proud that Jimmie will finish his remarkable NASCAR driving career with Ally as his primary sponsor.”

Johnson has 83 career victories, tied with Cale Yarborough for sixth all-time. His seven titles are tied with Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt for most in the Cup Series, the last one coming in 2016.

Johnson has been in a two-year slump and last won a race in 2017. He had two different crew chief changes this season and missed the playoffs for the first time since the format began in 2004. He finished 18th in the final standings and has just five top-five finishes the last two years.

Johnson has driven for Rick Hendrick his entire Cup career and set a NASCAR record in winning five consecutive titles from 2006 through 2010, an accomplishment that earned him Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year after his fifth crown.

All 83 of Johnson’s wins have come in the No. 48 and include two Daytona 500s, four victories at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a record 11 wins at Dover International Speedway, nine at Martinsville Speedway and eight at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

  • Associated Categories: Sports, NASCAR News, Monster Cup
  • Associated Tags: nascar, motorsports, Auto Racing, Stock Car, Asphalt, Motorsports Live On WDUN, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Wolfpack visit Yellow Jackets in matchup of last-place teams
Geoff Collins says his Georgia Tech players “are a resilient group.”
2:22PM ( 12 minutes ago )
7-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson to retire after 2020
Jimmie Johnson sat down next to Jeff Gordon at a 2001 driver meeting and asked the champion if he had time to offer any career advice. Gordon was so impressed with...
2:20PM ( 14 minutes ago )
Updated
Wolfpack visit Yellow Jackets in matchup of last-place teams
Geoff Collins says his Georgia Tech players “are a resilient group.” The first-year coach used the same term to describe North Carolina State...
1:54PM ( 40 minutes ago )
Sports
PODCAST: Hard Left Turn - Kyle Busch takes second Cup Title
Kyle Busch may not have entered Sunday's Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season finale as the championship favorite, but he went home with the champion's hardware at the end of the night.
11:39PM ( 1 day ago )
Racing to return to Gresham Motorsports Park in 2020
Racing is set to return to Jefferson, Georgia in May of 2020. After sitting dormant for almost six years, Gresham Motorsports Park will host the asphalt Super Late Models...
8:01PM ( 1 day ago )
NASCAR President Steve Phelps gives State of the Sport
The racing on intermediate tracks has never been better, ratings are up, bucking a trend among other major sports, and collaboration between stakeholders is at an all-time high.
2:00PM ( 2 days ago )
NASCAR News
Championship 4 set to do battle in Homestead finale
After 35 races, including nine high-action, high-drama Playoff events the field of four is set with three former Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champions...
6:00AM ( 5 days ago )
Kevin Harvick relishes lone wolf role in Championship 4
There’s no politicking this week at Stewart-Haas Racing. At the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series level, the organization’s sole focus will be on winning another championship...
7:40PM ( 5 days ago )
One race left to decide NASCAR championship
NASCAR’s Championship Weekend set-up included clutch performances in all three national series this past weekend at Phoenix’s ISM Raceway.
2:00PM ( 1 week ago )
Monster Cup
Reddick’s second Xfinity title puts him in elite company
From the season’s beginning on the Daytona high banks to Saturday night’s very final laps of racing at Homestead-Miami Speedway the 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series championship battle was intense.
By Holly Cain-NASCAR Wire Service
8:00AM ( 6 hours ago )
Emotional season ends with title for Joe Gibbs Racing
It was Kyle Busch’s championship evening at Homestead-Miami Speedway Sunday, but it also had a distinctive feel of being a J.D. Gibbs’ kind of achievement.
By Holly Cain-NASCAR Wire Service
4:55PM ( 21 hours ago )
PODCAST: Hard Left Turn - Kyle Busch takes second Cup Title
Kyle Busch may not have entered Sunday's Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season finale as the championship favorite, but he went home with the champion's hardware at the end of the night.
By AccessWDUN Staff
11:39PM ( 1 day ago )
NASCAR President Steve Phelps gives State of the Sport
The racing on intermediate tracks has never been better, ratings are up, bucking a trend among other major sports, and collaboration between stakeholders is at an all-time high.
By Reid Spencer-NASCAR Wire Service
2:00PM ( 2 days ago )
Kyle Busch tops Championship 4 in Homestead finale
Kyle Busch had heard the question asked dozens of times throughout the 2019 Playoffs – when is he going to break back into Victory Lane?
By Pete McCole
6:00AM ( 2 days ago )