Jimmie Johnson has tested positive for COVID-19 and will not race Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Justin Allgaier will drive the No. 48 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports, and Johnson will not return to NASCAR Cup Series competition until cleared by a doctor. The seven-time series champion has not been experiencing symptoms but was tested for COVID-19 when wife Chandra tested positive after she experienced allergy-like symptoms.
“My first priority is the health and safety of my loved ones and my teammates,” said Johnson. “I’ve never missed a race in my Cup career, but I know it’s going to be very hard to watch from the sidelines when I’m supposed to be out there competing. Although this situation is extremely disappointing, I’m going to come back ready to win races and put ourselves in playoff contention.”
Johnson has made 663 consecutive starts in the Cup Series since his full-time career began in 2002. He is in his final full season as a NASCAR driver.
Hendrick Motorsports said one member of the No. 48 road team that was in close contact with Johnson will self-quarantine. According to the organization, there are daily COVID-19 screenings at the campus, facility operations and traveling personnel are separated, work schedules split, required face coverings and social distancing, and an increased level of disinfecting and sanitization of all work areas.
“Jimmie has handled this situation like the champion he is,” said Rick Hendrick. “We’re relieved he isn’t showing symptoms, and that (Chandra) is doing great, and we know he’ll be back and ready to go very soon. It’s going to be difficult for him to be out of the car and away from his team, but it’s the right thing to do for Jimmie and everyone involved.”
NASCAR has already granted Johnson a playoff waiver.
“Following the guidelines outlined in the Event Operations Protocol manual, Jimmie Johnson has alerted NASCAR that he has tested positive for COVID-19,” said a NASCAR statement. “NASCAR has outlined the steps for Johnson’s return, in accordance with the CDC’s current guidelines, which includes that Johnson is symptom-free and has two negative COVID-19 test results, at least 24 hours apart. NASCAR requires Johnson to be cleared by his physician before returning to racing.
“Jimmie is a true battle-tested champion, and we wish him well in his recovery. NASCAR has granted Jimmie a playoff waiver, and we look forward to his return as he races for an eighth NASCAR Cup Series championship.”