Jimmie Johnson knew by time the NASCAR schedule hit October that he was about done with traveling for 38 weeks a year. In October, Johnson said that the retirement plans got “real” and it “felt good to think about.”
Fast forward to the middle of November, Johnson made the announcement that the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season will be his 19th and final one. He’s at peace with this decision and excited for what 2020 brings.
“I feel very, very good about my decision and it’s just time,” Johnson said on Thursday afternoon. “It showed up. I feel very blessed and fortunate to have this opportunity. It just feels right. I’m ready.”
While his struggles over the past two years could be the prime reason to walk away before it’s too late, Johnson says that his near three year winless drought had very little impact on his decision to retire.
Johnson’s stats have steadily declined since his seventh championship in 2016. Even that year, he wasn’t the old typical Jimmie Johnson that we grew accustomed to seeing.
2017 was worse than 2016. 2018 was worse than 2017. 2019, was a year of changes with a new crew chief but ended as the first of his career without a playoff appearance. It started off a lot like 2018 still. Then, came in a crew chief swap in August which actually propelled Johnson forward again but was too late to get him into the postseason.
The end of the year though gives Johnson high hopes for 2020. That and 38 weeks of traveling is why Johnson is ready to walk away.
While team owner Rick Hendrick said in the fall that he wanted to know which direction Johnson was leaning, he never meant for Johnson to retire. He was actually shocked by the decision.
Ally, signed on to be the primary sponsor of the No. 48 Chevrolet through 2023. Johnson’s contract though was up a couple of years prior. Did Johnson want to still race through 2023?
Instead, he chose to walk away while he could and race in other things. He made that clear on Thursday. He’s not retiring from racing, just the 38 weeks a year of traveling. He won’t commit for anything full time, but wants to race in other forms of motorsport though.