Jimmie Johnson first NASCAR driver to test positive for COVID-19

credit: Debbie Ross/Skirts and Scuffs
The hits from 2020 just keep on coming.

NASCAR announced Friday that seven-time Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson has tested positive for COVID-19. He will not return to competition until he has two negative results from tests taken at least 24 hours apart, is symptom-free, and has been cleared by his doctor.

“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,” NASCAR stated.

credit: Debbie Ross/Skirts and Scuffs
Johnson is not currently symptomatic, according to Hendrick Motorsports; he tested after his wife, Chandra, received positive results from a test she took because she experienced allergy-like symptoms. As one would expect, Johnson said that the health of his loved ones and teammates is his priority, though he’s disappointed about the situation.

“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.” Johnson said. Although this situation is extremely disappointing, I’m going to come back ready to win races and put ourselves in playoff contention.”

HMS owner Rick Hendrick said, “Jimmie has handled this situation like the champion he is. We’re relieved he isn’t showing symptoms and that Chani 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.”

credit: Debbie Ross/Skirts and Scuffs
One of the No. 48 traveling crew members who had close contact with Johnson has been instructed to self-quarantine.

JR Motorsports’ Justin Allgaier will fill in for four-time winner Johnson in the No. 48 for Sunday’s Brickyard 400, ending four-time winner Johnson's streak of 663 consecutive Cup starts going back to the 2002 Daytona 500. This weekend would have been his 667th Cup race, counting his three races in 2001.

Allgaier ran the Brickyard 400 in 2014 and 2015 for HScott Motorsports with an average start of 26th and average finish of 32nd. In the Xfinity Series, his average finish is 14.7 in six starts at the iconic track, including a win, three top-five and three top-ten finishes.

While Allgaier ran fifth in both practices for Saturday's Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard, this year the Xfinity Series takes to the road course at IMS for the first time.

Johnson’s diagnosis, the first for a NASCAR driver, will also prevent him from participating in the IndyCar test with Chip Ganassi Racing planned for July 8.

Jimmie Johnson first NASCAR driver to test positive for COVID-19 Jimmie Johnson first NASCAR driver to test positive for COVID-19 Reviewed by Janine Cloud on Friday, July 03, 2020 Rating: 5