Johnson announced two days before the 2022 Cup Championship race at Phoenix Raceway that he would be joining Petty GMS Racing as a part-owner and part-time driver for the 2023 season.
That puts Johnson in a ownership role with GMS Racing founder Maury Gallagher and fellow seven-time Cup Series champion Richard Petty. The organization will continue to field two full-time Cup Series teams and a Craftsman Truck Series team next season, while Johnson will run a select number of races.
Jimmie Johnson has had one of the most successful Cup Series careers in NASCAR history
Johnson returned to NASCAR after a 23-year career dating back to his first Xfinity Series entry at the age of 22 in 1998. After two full-time Xfinity Series seasons that included his only Class II series win at Chicagoland Speedway in 2001, Johnson joined Hendrick Motorsports To play the full 2022 Cup Series schedule and compete for Rookie of the Year.
He won three races and four trophies on his way to fifth in the points standings, but was overtaken by Ryan Newman in the rookie standings, which NASCAR calculated differently than the average driver’s points standings at the time.
That began a 12-year run in which Johnson never finished lower than sixth in the points standings, including his first six championships. He also won at least two races in each of those seasons and led over 1,000 laps eight times.
It was one of the most dominant performances of any era in the sport dating back to co-owner Petty’s amazing peak period over the two decades from 1960 to 1980 when he finished sixth in the points standings just twice and claimed all seven points. of his series titles.
Johnson won his last championship in 2016 and had three wins in 2017, but that was the end of his success. He did not win a race and finish higher than 14th in the points standings in his last three years as a full-time driver.
Johnson retired from full-time NASCAR competition after the 2020 campaign and moved to the NTT IndyCar Series as a part-time driver the following year. That experience expanded into full-time riding last season, but he only managed a top-10 finish in his 19 races across the two seasons.
Johnson has now returned to the series as he became a legend, and by doing so, he now has the chance to join other legends in the game All-time winning streak cup series.
Johnson is one victory behind Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip on the all-time wins list
Johnson finished his full-time career with 83 wins, one behind Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip for fourth of the 203 drivers who have won at least one race in the series.
Now, the accuracy of the tie between Allison and Wall Trip is a long standing debate among people in the sport, especially Allison. He claims he should have more wins than Waltrip because he was victorious in the 1971 Cup Series race at Bowman Gray Stadium, but NASCAR officials refused to recognize him as the official winner because of the type of car he was driving.
Johnson has been one win behind two Hall of Famers since his June 2017 win at Dover Motor Speedway turned out to be the last victory of his career, at least until this point.
It remains to be determined which NASCAR events Johnson will participate in next season, regardless of Daytona 500which could be one of the two-time winner’s best chances to record the 84th win of his Hall of Fame career.
It would be shocking to see a 47-year-old driver come out of part-time retirement and outright win the biggest race of the year, but Johnson has achieved the seemingly unthinkable many times before.
He still holds the record for the longest streak in the sport’s history, with five consecutive championships from 2006-2010, and became the 12th driver to win at least four consecutive races en route to the 2007 championship. He is the all-time wins leader at Dover (11), Martinsville ( Nine), Charlotte (eight), and Texas (seven).
Johnson’s comeback may be just a bit of nostalgia as his age approaches the same number he’s had on the side of his car for all of his championship years. However, Petty GMS has had competitive cars for most of the 2022 season, and Eric Jones won the organization’s first race in September at Darlington Raceway.
As the surprising news that Johnson will be returning to NASCAR settles in, the fact that he still has room to set more historic marks in the sport will start to come into focus as well, especially if he has a sprint car in February for Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway.
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