CONCORD, N.C. — Jimmie Johnson will chase his eighth NASCAR Cup Series championship one final time next season.
The seven-time titlist from El Cajon, Calif., announced via a video released Wednesday afternoon on social media that 2020 will be his last year as a full-time Cup Series driver.
Johnson has piloted the No. 48 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports for the entirety of his Cup Series career, collecting 83 wins, 36 poles, 227 top-five and 364 top-10 finishes in 651 starts since debuting in 2001.
He’ll have one more full year to add to those totals, and potentially make history with a record-breaking eighth crown, before turning his focus to other things in his life.
“I’m so thankful for 18 incredible years of racing (full-time) in NASCAR,” Johnson noted in his video announcement. “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 ever thought possible. I’m looking forward to next season and celebrating what will be my last season as a full-time NASCAR Cup driver.
“I know what this team is capable of and I hope 2020 is one of the best (years) yet.”
Johnson was a virtual unknown prior to 2001, with only one win in what was then the NASCAR Busch Series (now Xfinity Series) before being recommended by then three-time Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon for a drive with Hall of Fame team owner Rick Hendrick.
“I went in looking for advice and I walked out with the opportunity of a lifetime,” Johnson recalled to the Associated Press in 2001.
Since debuting with Hendrick Motorsports, Johnson has rewritten the record books in NASCAR. He won five straight Cup Series titles from 2006 to 2010, and was named in 2009 as the Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year, joining sports icons like Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan and Tom Brady as men who have earned that prestigious honor.
His seven Cup Series championships are tied with Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt for the most in the sport’s history, earned in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013 and 2016.
Johnson’s list of marquee wins include two Daytona 500 victories (2006, 2013), four Brickyard 400 wins (2006, 2008-09, 2012), four Coca-Cola 600 triumphs (2003-05, 2014) and two wins in the Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway (2004, 2012), in addition to a Cup Series-record 11 wins at Dover (Del.) Int’l Speedway.
The 44-year-old began racing motorcycles at age five, followed by off-road trucks and eventually stock cars on pavement.
Johnson’s last pursuit of his eighth NASCAR Cup Series championship will begin with the 62nd annual Daytona 500 on Feb. 16.
Hendrick Motorsports will announce plans for its 2021 team alignment at a later date.