Jimmie Johnson returns to NASCAR Cup as Petty GMS owner, driver

Jimmie Johnson will return to the NASCAR Cup Series in 2023 as an owner-driver, after the seven-time champion agreed a deal to buy into the Petty GMS Racing outfit.

Jimmie Johnson, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Johnson, who won all of his Cup titles with Hendrick Motorsports, has focused on IndyCar racing and selected outings in the IMSA SportsCar Championship in the past two years since bringing his NASCAR career to a close in 2020.

The 47-year-old announced in September that he would step back from full-time racing next year and would not return to IndyCar with Chip Ganassi Racing. 

He has now entered an ownership agreement with Maury Gallagher and chairman Richard Petty at the Petty GMS organisation. 

The team currently fields the famed #43 Chevrolet, currently driven by Erik Jones, while Xfinity championship challenger Noah Gragson will replace Ty Dillon in the #42 car next year. 

The team will enter a third car in a handful of events for Johnson, including the season-opening Daytona 500. It will be his 20th appearance in NASCAR's biggest race, which he has won twice before in 2006 and 2013.

“I couldn’t be happier to have Jimmie Johnson joining Petty GMS,” stated Gallagher.

“We have been consistent since we began our Cup effort last year in wanting to be up front and have a winning programme.

“No one in the modern era of NASCAR has won more than Jimmie. Having a driver, the caliber of Jimmie, driving our equipment and being able to provide feedback to our crew chiefs and engineers but most importantly, mentoring Erik and Noah will be invaluable.

Erik Jones, Petty GMS Motorsports, FOCUSfactor Chevrolet Camaro

Erik Jones, Petty GMS Motorsports, FOCUSfactor Chevrolet Camaro

Photo by: John Harrelson / NKP / Motorsport Images

“Perhaps most important of all, Jimmie will be a great partner. I know I speak for all the Petty GMS team members, including Richard Petty, in welcoming Jimmie to the team. No one else will be able to say they have two seven-time Cup champions on their team.

“We are looking to make a strong statement next year and show that we are here to contend for wins and championships. I can’t wait to see what we can achieve together.”

“It’s great to be back in NASCAR,” said Johnson, who took a best finish of fifth at Iowa from his 29 IndyCar starts and crashed out of his first start at the Indianapolis 500 earlier this year.

“When the IndyCar season ended I started on this journey of what was next. Maury and I connected, this opportunity came to light and it’s the perfect fit for me.

“Team ownership makes so much sense at this stage of my career and after spending time with Maury and his family, talking with Mike (Beam), Dave (Elenz, crew chief of the #43) and Joey (Cohen, Director of Competition and Engineering), I realised this was something I wanted to be involved with from both the business perspective and on the competition side.

“If I’m going to commit to something like this, I want to make a difference and have something tangible to show for it when it’s all said and done. So, this opportunity with Petty GMS is all of that and much more.”

Johnson's 687th NASCAR Cup Series start will be his first in a non-Hendrick car, having driven the #48 Chevrolet his entire career.

Fellow seven-time champion Richard Petty said Johnson's arrival “will only continue to help us grow”.

Other details including Johnson’s exact racing schedule, sponsorships, paint schemes and car number will be announced at a later date.

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