Jimmie Johnson’s full-time racing career is over.
Johnson announced Monday that he wouldn’t pursue a second full-time season in the IndyCar Series and would instead race “bucket list” items 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 over the past two seasons.
"This was a difficult choice 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 holds but if an opportunity comes along that makes sense, I will consider it. I still have a bucket list of racing events I would like to take part in. Competing at this level in IndyCar has been such a great experience."
Johnson, 47, struggled in IndyCar. He had just two top-10 finishes in 29 starts and looked overmatched on the road and street courses that dominate the IndyCar calendar. His best tracks were the ovals on the schedule as he was fifth in the second Iowa race this season and sixth at Texas earlier this year. He crashed out of the Indianapolis 500 after starting 12th.
Johnson finished 21st in the 2022 IndyCar standings. Just four full-time drivers finished behind him in the points standings.
Given Johnson’s IndyCar struggles, you can understand why he’s opting not to race full-time for a second season in the series. You also can’t blame Johnson for giving the series a try, even though it was clear from the outset that he was facing a massive learning curve as a 45-year-old rookie against drivers who had raced in similar cars for years.
Johnson seems likely to be a part of the Hendrick Motorsports team effort at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June. Johnson has done some sports car racing over the last two seasons and now has the opportunity to race at the iconic circuit without a full-time schedule in 2023.
Hendrick was the only NASCAR team Johnson ever drove for at the Cup Series level. He won 83 races from 2002-2017, though he finished his Cup career with three winless seasons and missed the playoffs for the first time in his career in 2019 and 2020.
Johnson was by far NASCAR’s most dominant driver of the 2000s. He won at least three races in each season before 2018 and won five consecutive titles from 2006-10. He added a sixth title in 2013 and got his record-tying seventh title in 2016 after Joey Logano and Carl Edwards’ infamous restart crash late in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.