Jimmie Johnson says he has “no clue” if he will still retire after the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season, depending on how the season plays out.
The coronavirus pandemic and the stoppages across the world of sports and motorsports have led to countless questions that cannot be answered, as nobody quite knows when some semblance of a normal schedule will be resumed for anything.
Such questions have arisen about the NASCAR Cup Series, and about a few drivers in particular. The first four races of the season were contested from mid-February to early March before the pandemic brought the 2020 season to a screeching halt.
As of now, seven races have been postponed. NASCAR still plans to run the full 36-race schedule, and a revised schedule is slated to be released in the near future, but that schedule would also obviously be subject to change.
Martinsville Speedway is slated to host the next non-postponed race on the schedule on Saturday, May 9.
One particular driver who has been discussed quite often amid this unexpected stoppage is seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson.
Last November, just days after the 2019 season wrapped up, the 44-year-old El Cajon, California native announced that the 2020 season would be his 19th and final season as the full-time driver of the #48 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports.
Johnson won at least two races in each of his first 16 seasons as a full-time driver, be he has not won a race since June of 2017. He also missed the playoffs entirely last year, marking the first time he had done so since the playoff era began back in his third full season in 2004.
So far this season, Johnson has found the success that he has lacked over the last few seasons. While he hasn’t won a race, he sits in fifth place in the championship standings with top finishes of fifth at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and seventh at Auto Club Speedway in what could have been his final race at his home track to keep his “perfect record” there intact.
The question that has been asked about Johnson quite a lot recently is simple: If NASCAR ends up running a limited schedule in 2020, would he still retire after the 2020 season?
Although Johnson has fully embraced the idea of the 2020 season being his last since making his retirement announcement a few months ago, he has now stated that he has “no clue” how to answer that question.
His follow-up of “we will all be smarter in weeks to come” fully backs this idea, as it goes to show just how little we all know about anything right now.
It is worth noting that Johnson’s current contract, which he signed in June of 2017, runs through the end of the 2020 season, but Ally Financial signed an extension last October to continue serving as the full-time primary sponsor of the #48 Chevrolet through the 2023 season.
As a result, Hendrick Motorsports are in a pretty favorable position, as they can effectively pick who they want to drive the #48 Chevrolet next year. Unsurprisingly, there have already been numerous names tossed around as potential replacements for the seven-time champion.
How many races would need to be run in the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season for Jimmie Johnson still to decide to hang up his helmet once it ends? As he stated, “we will all be smarter in the weeks to come”. For more information about COVID-19, visit the CDC’s website or the website for your state’s Department of Health.