INDIANAPOLIS – Jimmie Johnson admitted on Saturday morning that he was stunned when he found out that he had tested positive for COVID-19.
Johnson also revealed that he recently spent time at Chip Ganassi Racing’s IndyCar shop on the northwest side of Indianapolis for an IndyCar seat-fitting.
Johnson, a four-time winner of the Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 and a seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, is under quarantine with his family in Aspen, Colo. He will miss Sunday’s race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and is out of competition indefinitely until he receives medical clearance.
Johnson was scheduled to take part in an IndyCar test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course next Wednesday with Chip Ganassi Racing. That test has been scratched until Johnson is able to return from his quarantine.
The California native who will retire from full-time NASCAR Cup Series competition at the end of this season also said he was recently at the Dallara IndyCar simulator on Main Street a few blocks from Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He has notified IndyCar, Dallara and Chip Ganassi Racing of his diagnosis.
An IndyCar spokesperson said the sanctioning body was notified by Johnson and appropriate steps have been taken regarding potential exposure with a limited number of personnel at Ganassi’s shop. According to Johnson, the seat fitting was in a separate room with only three to four members of the team involved.
That was the last time Johnson was in Indianapolis. Because of NASCAR’s COVID-19 regulations, Cup Series teams and drivers are not allowed at Indianapolis Motor Speedway until Sunday morning in advance of the Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400. The only series’ on site Friday and Saturday are the NTT IndyCar Series and the NASCAR Xfinity Series and both garage areas are separated by fencing and other barriers.
Johnson’s wife, Chandra, was the first to test positive for COVID-19 after she experienced allergy-like symptoms. When her results proved positive for the virus Friday morning, Johnson was tested.
He is currently asymptomatic and was stunned when the results came back positive late afternoon on Friday.
“I can be down and out about my situation but if I turn on the news and I see how this virus has impacted so many others, I quickly feel thankful that I’m asymptomatic and I don’t have any major issues,” Johnson said during a Zoom call with media Saturday morning. “It would be very easy right now to be bummed out and look at this the wrong way, but I’m healthy, my wife is healthy, my kids are (healthy) and our prayers are that it stays that way. We’re hopeful that from our situation maybe some others can learn from this as well.
“If it wasn’t for Chani’s diligence to do the right thing at all times we would be going on with life as normal and who knows who we could have come in contact with and the repercussions that could have had.
“I know our country and the world right now is over quarantine and over all these technicalities we have to deal with, but as a family that has been very safe and very cautious, it shows how diligent you truly need to be through all of this.”
The first priority for Johnson is to make sure his family, including his two young daughters, are healthy. With both parents diagnosed with COVID-19, they are concerned about how to feed and care for their children.
“This is a crazy situation to manage in our household right now – trying to do self-isolation while also trying to parent,” Johnson said. “Our biggest concern right now is our children. We’re being very responsible in our home.
“Thankfully we’re healthy and hope we stay that way. But for a nine and six-year-old, to try to manage the fear right now, they can’t come around mom or dad. We’re concerned about feeding them and passing the virus. On the home front with our kids, we’re heartbroken right now to see the fear in their eyes, watching them trying to manage what’s going on right now.”
Johnson was attempting to win Sunday’s Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 for the fifth time in his career, which would have tied him with Jeff Gordon for most wins in the event.
“Of course, I wanted to race at the Brickyard and I’m disappointed I’m not going to have some of the lasts I had hoped to have, but I just don’t know where we’re going to be at the end of this year, let alone next year,” Johnson said. “I do know that I still want to compete. I had to inform Hendrick Motorsports that I don’t plan to be in the car full-time. I’m hopeful I can have the opportunity to come back and run a Hendrick Cup car in some races.
“Clearly, I also have this interest in IndyCar, sports cars and other forms of racing. That’s helping me deal with this and not feel like I’m having things taken away from me.”