CONCORD, N.C. – The 2020 season may be the last time Jimmie Johnson will run the full NASCAR Cup Series schedule, but he is adamant that doesn’t mean he’ll be done racing.
The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, who announced on Wednesday he planned to retire from full-time NASCAR competition following the 2020 season, met with the media on Thursday to elaborate on his decision to retire.
One point he wanted to make perfectly clear was that he fully intends to continue competing once he wraps up his full-time racing career next November at Arizona’s ISM Raceway.
“This is not a retirement from driving race cars. This is slowing down from 38 weekends a year,” said Johnson, a winner of 83 NASCAR Cup Series races during his career. “Nineteen years in Cup and two in the Xfinity Series, plus everything before that. I want a little bit more balance. It’s been a heck of a run and we’re going to keep going.”
Johnson has plenty of experience in other avenues of racing. He started his motorsports career racing dirt bikes before transitioning to racing off-road trucks, which included competing in the grueling Baja 1,000 in Mexico, before he moved to stock car racing in the American Speed Ass’n.
Even during his NASCAR career Johnson dabbled in other forms of racing. He made several sports car starts, competing in the Rolex 24 at Daytona Int’l Speedway on seven occasions with a best overall finish of second twice.
When asked by SPEED SPORT’s Ralph Sheheen what other forms of motorsports he might be interested in experiencing, Johnson said he’s open to anything.
Well, almost anything.
“All options are on the table honestly, except Indy cars on fast ovals,” Johnson said.
“I knew that was not going to happen,” Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick quickly chimed in.
What that leaves is a multitude of options for Johnson to explore. Could he return to the Rolex 24? Could he jump in a dirt late model for the World 100 at Ohio’s Eldora Speedway? What about a run in the Chili Bowl in a midget? What about a return to his roots in an off-road racing truck?
Anything is possible according to Johnson.
“I really look forward to what is going to develop 12 months from now and see what opportunities might be out there. I wouldn’t mind getting dirty again. I know we have a history of off-road racing in the dirt,” Johnson acknowledged. “Lets just kind of wait and see.”
Johnson did note that a number of motorsports’ series reached out to him via Twitter with invitations to compete. He said they didn’t go unnoticed.
“I haven’t talked to anybody, but I saw them all pinging me on social media, like, ‘Hey, dibs, come race here,’” Johnson said. “Even the World of Outlaws sent me a tweet.”
Before he makes any decisions on what comes next after he wraps up his Cup Series career next November, Johnson said it’ll be important for him to take a break and catch his breath for the first time in more than 20 years.
“Most importantly, I feel like I need to take a deep breath and see what kind of comes from there and put my family first instead of racing first for once and take it from there,” Johnson said.