Jimmie Johnson’s full-time racing career is over.
Johnson announced Monday that he would not be pursuing a second full-time season in the IndyCar Series, instead racing on the “bucket list” going forward. The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series Champion retired from NASCAR at the end of the 2020 season and has raced in the IndyCar Series for the past two seasons.
“It was a difficult decision for me, but in my heart I know it’s the right one,” Johnson said in a statement. “I’m not exactly sure what the next chapter will bring, but if a meaningful opportunity presents itself, I’ll consider it. I still have a list of race events I would like to attend. Competing at this level in IndyCar has been such a great experience.”
Johnson, 47, fought in IndyCar. He’s had just two top 10 finishes in 29 starts and looked overwhelmed on the road and street circuits that dominate the IndyCar calendar. His best tracks were the ovals on the schedule, as he finished fifth in the second race in Iowa this season and sixth in Texas earlier this year. He crashed out of the Indianapolis 500 after starting 12th.
Johnson finished 21st in the 2022 IndyCar standings. Only four full-time drivers finished behind him in the points standings.
Given Johnson’s IndyCar struggles, you can understand why he chooses not to drive full-time for a second season in the series. Johnson can’t be faulted for trying out the series either, although it was clear from the start that as a 45-year-old rookie he faced a huge learning curve against drivers who had raced similar cars for years.
Johnson appears to be part of the Hendrick Motorsports team effort at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June. Johnson has competed in a number of sports car races over the past two seasons and now has the opportunity to race at the legendary circuit without a full-time schedule in 2023.
Hendrick was the only NASCAR team Johnson ever drove for in the Cup Series. He won 83 races from 2002 to 2017, although he ended his cup career with three seasons without a win and missed the playoffs for the first time in his career in 2019 and 2020.
Johnson was by far NASCAR’s most dominant driver in the 2000s. Prior to 2018, he won at least three races each season and won five straight titles from 2006 to 2010. He added a sixth title in 2013 and clinched his record-breaking seventh title in 2016 after Joey Logano and Carl Edwards had the infamous restart accident late in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.