Jimmie Johnson says he has not yet made any decisions about his long-term future.
On the heels of the news that sponsor Ally has extended its deal with Hendrick Motorsports and the No. 48 team through the 2023 season, Johnson said Friday morning at Dover he doesn’t have anything to add about his plans. Johnson’s contract with HMS goes through the 2020 season. The seven-time champion wants to take every available day he has weighing his options before team owner Rick Hendrick starts looking for an answer.
“I’m very, very excited that Ally has signed this extension with Hendrick,” said Johnson. “I think it speaks to the strength of our sport, the strength of the relationship with Hendrick Motorsports. I know everybody would like me to be in the car to 2023 and even past that, but I just haven’t made that decision.”
There is no timeline, Johnson said, that he’s given himself to decide or that Rick Hendrick has made of when something needs to be set in place.
“I personally know that I would like every day that I can before I need to make that decision,” he reiterated. “A lot of things to look at with the Gen7 car coming, the way our team’s performing and what we’re building. I might want to go longer than 2023; I just don’t know, and I have not put much time and effort into it.
“There have been many other things to deal with and look at. These things, in the past, a contract renewal would usually start in the spring of the year the contract would end, so based on past experience, I would say probably spring next year is when I would really get pressured to make a decision if I was going to return in 2021.”
With seven titles and 83 wins, Johnson has been adamant he is not ready to hang up the helmet. He also continually expressed confidence in himself still being able to get the job done as well as the good things coming for his team, and the constant hard work to turn the corner.
Johnson failed to make the playoffs for the first time in his career this year, and he hasn’t won a race since June 2017.
On the Sept. 9 edition of the Dale Jr. Download, Johnson said how much longer his career last will also depend on his family. Johnson admitted he’s been “selfish” with his racing through the years, and if daughters Genevieve and Lydia (who are 9 and 6) begin to have an opinion on where they want him, that will factor into his decision.
“That’s a question that’s being asked a lot and certainly I think here in the next four to six months, I’m sure Mr. Hendrick’s going to be pushing on me for an answer,” said Johnson to Earnhardt Jr. on the podcast. “So, I know that’s out there, but if I’m forced to make a decision I’m choosing more years. I’m not done yet. That fire is way too intense.”