Jimmie Johnson recently stated his interest in returning to NASCAR, specifically running the Memorial Day Double. Now a potential opening has become clear.
Jimmie Johnson may have left NASCAR following the 2020 Cup Series season, but he’s far from done in the world of motorsports.
After retiring from full-time Cup Series competition, Johnson moved to IndyCar as the driver of the #48 Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing. While Johnson has faced learning curves along the way, the childhood dream for the El Cajon, California native has come to life.
What has seemingly been a question since Johnson’s NASCAR departure is if he’ll return to the sport on a part-time or a one-off basis. He recently shed light on the topic, stating his desire to run the Memorial Day Double in 2023. Only four drivers have ever attempted the feat, most recently Kurt Busch in 2014.
Johnson, who made his Indy 500 debut last month after driving in only the road and street course races last year, noted that a return to the Cup Series would have to come with a competitive team.
But the team with which he became a seven-time Cup Series champion, Hendrick Motorsports, would be off the table, as they currently field the maximum allowable total of four cars.
However, recent comments from an emerging Cup Series contender pave a clear path for Johnson’s return.
Trackhouse Racing Team recently announced PROJECT91, a third part-time entry for international drivers to try their hand at stock car racing.
In a blockbuster of an announcement, the team announced Formula 1 world champion Kimi Raikkonen as their first driver of the #91 Chevrolet. Raikkonen is set to make his Cup Series debut in the August race at Watkins Glen International.
But even more recently, team co-owner Justin Marks participated in an AMA on NASCAR’s Reddit. When asked if he would be willing to field the #91 Chevrolet for Johnson in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway to play a part in a potential Memorial Day Double attempt, Marks replied with a concise “absolutely”.
The connections are endless. Trackhouse Racing Team acquired the Cup Series team owned by Johnson’s current IndyCar boss after last season, and they have become the most competitive Chevrolet team not named Hendrick Motorsports.
Driving a car that is built in the shop Chip Ganassi once owned and doing so for a visionary in Marks should only ramp up the desire of the two-time Daytona 500 winner to return to the sport.