Jimmie Johnson is unsure how he and wife Chandra tested positive for COVID-19 but believes it shows even the most diligent and safe individuals can’t be careful enough.
Johnson will not compete at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, and Hendrick Motorsports will have Justin Allgaier drive the No. 48 Chevrolet. To rejoin the circuit, Johnson will need to have two negative test results within 24 hours of each other and be cleared by a doctor.
Fortunately, Johnson is not experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is optimistic it will remain that way. He and his children were tested on Friday and received quick results after learning Chandra had a positive result following a test she took earlier this week. While Johnson and his wife are positive, his two daughters are negative.
“Our biggest concern right now is just for our children,” said Johnson. “They are negative as of yesterday. Of course, we’re being very responsible in our home and trying to self-isolate, but at the same time, we have to parent. That’s really the tricky hurdle we’re trying to sort out right now on top of managing their fears.
“Thankfully, we’re healthy and hope to stay that way, but for a nine- and a six-year-old to try to manage the fear right now and they can’t come around Mom or Dad, we have to feed them, and we’re concerned feeding them and passing the virus. We’re trying to be as healthy we can, but on the home front with our kids, we’re heartbroken right now to see the fear in their eyes and watching them trying to manage what’s going on.”
The Johnson family has been in Colorado the last few weeks with the seven-time champion leaving for the racetrack each weekend. They did go back to Charlotte “maybe eight or 10 days ago” for a brief trip, but Johnson has not been on the Hendrick Motorsports campus since May, although the interior mechanic from the No. 48 team will self-quarantine because of being in close contact with him and his equipment.
Johnson also had a small amount of contact with folks with Chip Ganassi Racing when fitted for his IndyCar seat, and he was at the Dallara simulator on Thursday in preparation for the test that will no longer happen. Johnson and his wife have reached out to anyone they can think they have come across and were contacted by the CDC for a survey and interview.
“I can be down and out on my situation, but if I turn on the news and I see how this virus has impacted so many others, I quickly feel thankful that I’m asymptomatic, and I don’t have any major issues,” said Johnson. “It’d be very easy right now to get bummed out and to look at this the wrong way, but I’m healthy, my wife is healthy, my kids are. Our prayers are that it stays that way.
“We’re hopeful that through our situation, maybe some others can learn from this as well. If it weren’t for Chani’s diligence on trying to do the right thing at all times, we would be going on life as normal and who knows who we could have come in contact with, and the repercussions that could have had. I know our country and the world right now is over quarantine and over all these technicalities we need to deal with, but as a family whose been very safe and very cautious to end up testing positive, just shows how diligent you truly need to be through all of this.”
Johnson said “in some respects,” it is embarrassing to be in this position. He fears he encountered someone who will have a tougher time dealing with the virus, and Johnson also feels terrible about any stress he put on the Ganassi and Hendrick teams.
A consecutive streak of 663 starts comes to an end for Johnson on Sunday, and he’ll be watching from afar. But Johnson reiterated that even though 2020 continues to see unexpected events and changes to the racing schedule eliminate his chance to compete at some tracks (Sonoma, Indianapolis) for the final time, his retirement remains unchanged.
“I still know I want to compete, and I made that really clear,” said Johnson. “I had to inform Hendrick Motorsports that I do plan to not be in the car full-time, so they have to plan and do what they need to for the future, but I’m hopeful that I can have an opportunity to come back and run a Hendrick Cup car in some races. Clearly, I have this interest in IndyCar, sports car, and many other forms of racing, so I assume that’s helping me deal with this and not feel like I’m having some things taken away from me, but at the end of the day, thankful I’m healthy and not in the shape some people are in dealing with this.
“I’m trying really hard to not be disappointed in the professional side or maybe some of these more selfish things I’m going to miss out on and be thankful that I’m healthy and my family is healthy.”