Boom, Confetti! Jimmie Johnson Is Back!

Just when you think you’ve seen the end of his racing career, that you’ve seen the last of him, Jimmie Johnson returns. 

Earlier in the year, the seven-time NASCAR Champion announced that he would be ending his full time driving career after one full IndyCar season. He had already retired from NASCAR in 2020, and it seemed as though he was really done this time. 

Then, on Wednesday just before 8pm on the east coast, Jordan Bianchi dropped a massive bombshell over Twitter. The writer for The Athletic posted that he had received word that Johnson had purchased an ownership stake in Petty GMS Racing. He also said that Johnson would run select races in 2023 for the team.

After picking my jaw up from the floor, I still had my doubts, even though Jordan Bianchi is by far one of the best reporters in the game. Johnson, Richard Petty, and Maury Gallagher all made it official on Friday though, as they formally announced it from Phoenix Raceway. 

It was a surreal sight, seeing 14 NASCAR Championship wins seated side by side announcing they’re going into business together. But many believe the success that has followed both men over their careers will translate into instant success. The future sure is bright for the operation, without question. 

The driver lineup for 2023 for this team is magnificent. Jimmie will be mentoring the wild but incredibly talented Noah Gragson and helping two-time Southern 500 winner Erik Jones to maximize the prime of his career. 

“I’ve always felt like people helped me get to this point by giving to me so that I should give back,” Johnson said.

The seven-time champ is certainly giving back by just being around the organization. It’s also interesting to note that Petty GMS are in the midst of technical alliance negotiations with other Chevrolet teams in the sport. 

Of course Rick Hendrick’s operation is one of those, and it’s safe to say Johnson’s presence will help those negotiations. This move could certainly turn this team into a consistent competitor week in and week out with Hendrick equipment. I’m reminded of how well Stewart-Haas ran in their early days with a Hendrick alliance, and if that’s what we’re going to see, it’ll all be because of JIMMAY. 

Johnson’s first attempt at a start will be at the Daytona 500 in February. The sponsor, number and paint scheme for the car, as well as a presumed new name for the team have not yet been announced.

Photo credit to @PettyGMS the official Twitter account of Petty GMS Racing

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