Travis Hinkle | Penske Entertainment
AVONDALE, Ariz. — Petty GMS announced Friday that Jimmie Johnson has invested in a stake in the organization, a move that will bring the seven-time champion back to NASCAR Cup Series competition in a part-time role next season for select races — including the Daytona 500 2023.
Petty GMS announced the move Friday to Phoenix Raceway, site of this weekend’s championship finals for all three NASCAR National Series. It is also the site of Johnson’s final Cup Series start as a full-time driver in 2020.
The partnership combines the seven-time living Cup Series champions in a team ownership collective with co-majority owner Maury Gallagher. Richard Petty and Gallagher have merged their Cup operations ahead of the 2022 season, forming a two-car effort with Erik Jones and Ty Dillon as drivers.
“It’s great to be back in NASCAR,” Johnson said in a press release. “When the IndyCar season ended, I started this journey into what was to come. Maury and I connected, this opportunity presented itself and it’s the perfect fit for me. Ownership of the team makes so much sense at this point in my career and after spending time with Maury and his family, talking with Mike (Beam), Dave (Elenz, No. 43 crew chief) and Joey (Cohen, manager of Competition and Engineering), I realized that this is something I want to be involved in both from a business perspective and on the competition side. If I’m going to get involved in something like this, I want to make a difference and have something tangible to show when it’s all said and done, so this opportunity with Petty GMS is all of that and more.
MORE: New book highlights Johnson’s career in photos
The team will move forward with Jones and Noah Gragson on the driver roster next season, with both locked in multi-year deals. Jones is completing his sixth Cup Series season, a campaign that added another Southern 500 victory to his career portfolio. Gragson moves on to the Cup after a stellar tenure in the Xfinity Series, culminating in a title shot in Saturday’s finale in Phoenix.
Johnson, 47, was a decorated Cup Series star who had 83 wins — tied for sixth all-time with NASCAR Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough. Five of his championships came back to back in a record streak from 2006 to 2010.
“What an exciting time for Petty GMS,” Petty said in a press release. “This year we have achieved so much with Maury and the addition of Jimmie will only continue to help us grow. Having Jimmie – another seven-time champion – on the team, and his ability both on the track on and off will be special for Petty GMS, I can’t wait to have him on our team and see what we can build together.
Upon his retirement from full-time NASCAR competition, Johnson turned to other disciplines in motorsport. He’s driven in IndyCar the past two years, part-time in 2021 before moving to a full-time stint with Chip Ganassi Racing this season. Johnson has also explored sports car racing, recording two podium finishes in seven IMSA starts over the past two years.
Two weeks after that year’s IndyCar Finals, Johnson announced on September 26 that he would be retiring from full-time competition. “I have a blank sheet of paper, and now we can see what opportunities exist and start making a timeline,” Johnson told The Associated Press.
Johnson has expressed interest in participating in several “bucket list” events, leaving the door open for a part-time role in NASCAR. He also mentioned that the Garage 56 project for next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans was a consideration, adding that attempting a same-day one-two in the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 was of particular intrigue.
Rick Hendrick, the former team owner for Johnson’s decorated full-time NASCAR career, released a statement following the announcement.
“It’s a great day for our sport. Jimmie is one of the all-time great champions on the tour, and I know he will apply the same mentality to his role as a team owner,” said the owner of Hendrick Motorsports the level of commitment and work ethic he brings is second to none Seeing Jimmie in a firefighter suit with his name on the roof of a Chevrolet at the Daytona 500 is going to be very special to a lot of people Racing against him will certainly be a game changer and a big challenge, but we welcome his return to NASCAR and look forward to the next chapter of a truly remarkable career.
This story will be updated.