Jimmie Johnson put together a competitive top-five finish in his final NASCAR start as a full-time competitor Sunday at Phoenix Raceway.
“My bucket is full,” said Johnson. “NASCAR has been so wonderful for me. This journey has been more than I could have ever dreamed of or expected, or hoped for. The last couple of years on track weren’t as I dreamed up, but I’ve experienced the highest of highs and worked with the greatest people, been with one team through this entire journey, and just very thankful for all the people that have helped me get here.”
Johnson ends his career with 83 career wins, which puts him sixth on the all-time wins list, and seven championships. He completed 19 full seasons and made 686 starts, and just once did Johnson miss a race during his full-time career.
The final two seasons of Johnson’s career did not include a berth in the playoffs. As a result, he finished the lowest in points he has in his career, 18th, in both 2019 and ’20. He also went winless for three consecutive seasons; his final win being at Dover International Speedway in the summer of 2017.
“I’ve let in about as much as I can,” said Johnson of the emotions. “I feel like the offseason will happen, and I won’t have team meetings and 2021 planning meetings, and my trips to the shop won’t be as frequent. I’ll still go and still be around HMS, just because it’s home. But I think as next year comes around and I don’t go to Daytona for the 500, and those firsts that come along, that’s when it’ll continue to set in deeper and deeper then.
“But I feel like I’ve had a special week, a lot of friends in town, I’ve spoken a lot on the phone, a lot of texts, very meaningful conversations, and very thankful that I’ve had that from friends, family, a lot of my peers here today. So, I’m feeling pretty full right now.”
Next season Johnson will run 13 races Chip Ganassi on the road and street courses of the NTT IndyCar Series. Johnson tested last week at Barber and will be back behind the wheel this week for a test at Laguna Seca.
“I’m integrated into the team,” said Johnson. “Certainly, more throughout the offseason will take place. Their season just finished, and obviously, ours did, as well. But I’m plugged in over there and trying to learn what I can and just trying to make the switch from a car with very little downforce to a car with a lot of downforce. I have a big challenge ahead of myself.”
Johnson will be eligible for NASCAR Hall of Fame nomination in two years.