Retirement may or may not be on the cards for Jimmie Johnson at the end of the year.
Just as NASCAR officials are working through its schedule and what that will look like, Johnson admitted on Thursday that he is staying open-minded about the end of his full-time NASCAR career. The seven-time Cup Series champion from Hendrick Motorsports had earlier announced his intention to step back from full-time competition at the end of 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic has left the sport, and Johnson, unsure of what things will look like going forward.
“It’s been a popular question, and I really don’t have an answer just yet,” said Johnson on whether the schedule upheaval could prompt him to delay his retirement. “I don’t know what’s going to happen in the coming months, and if we’ll be able to run the full season or not.
“I set out to make 2020 my last full-time year, but I’ve always left the door open for other racing in NASCAR and abroad for the future, and I feel like I’m still pretty much on that path.”
Everything is on the table Johnson when it comes to jumping behind the wheel after his NASCAR tenure finishes. Although a scheduled test with Arrow McLaren SP was derailed by the pandemic, Johnson made his virtual IndyCar debut with a 12th-place finish in the Grand Prix at Barber Motorsports Park.
Seven Cup Series races have been postponed so far, although NASCAR President Steve Phelps remains committed to running all 36 points events. The early projection was to return to the track by the second weekend in May at Martinsville Speedway, however, Virginia is under a stay-at-home order until June 10.
Both IndyCar and Formula 1 have already postponed or canceled events through the end of May. NASCAR is yet to release a revised scheduled although speculation points to the sport aiming to return at Charlotte on Memorial Day weekend.
“I am hopeful we get our full year in, and we can get back going here in a month or so, whatever the latest (projection is),” said Johnson, “and I can run the season in its entirety.
“I just have to stay fluid at this point. I really don’t have an answer, and it’s up in the air, just as so much is in the world right now.”