NASCAR: New Jimmie Johnson development emerges for 2023

Jimmie Johnson, Petty GMS Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, Petty GMS Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

NASCAR fans seem to be asking the same question: what number will Jimmie Johnson use during the 2023 Cup Series season? Perhaps there is a favorite.

For the first time since 2020, seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson is set to compete in Cup Series race in 2023.

He is set to attempt to qualify for the season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway, though the rest of his schedule hasn’t yet been determined.

Johnson, who spent the last two seasons competing in IndyCar for Chip Ganassi Racing, joined Petty GMS Motorsports as a part-time driver and as a part owner.

The 47-year-old El Cajon, California native is set to drive a third part-time entry alongside full-time drivers Noah Gragson (No. 42 Chevrolet) and Erik Jones (No. 43 Chevrolet) in select races throughout the 2023 season.

One of the big discussion points about Johnson’s return to the sport from which he retired in 2020 is the car number he will run on his new Chevrolet entry.

Johnson has made 686 starts throughout his 20-year Cup Series career thus far, and he has never driven for a team other than Hendrick Motorsports.

The only car he has ever driven is the No. 48 Chevrolet, but he won’t be able to use the No. 48 in 2023, with Alex Bowman set to continue to drive the No. 48 Chevrolet for Rick Hendrick’s team.

There hasn’t been confirmation of Johnson’s car number for 2023, but Petty GMS Motorsports president Mike Beam recently spoke about a possibility that makes a lot of sense: No. 49.

With the No. 47 off the table, since JTG Daugherty Racing use it for Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s Chevrolet entry, No. 49 is the single closest number to No. 48, and it’s also the number you get when you multiply seven and seven.

Johnson is a seven-time champion, and team co-owner Richard Petty is the only other living seven-time champion.

Here is what Beam had to say about the matter, according to Forbes.

"“Once we made the announcement with Jimmie, people started connecting the dots. Seven times seven is 49. Holy crap, I would have never thought of that. We have two seven-time champions and if you multiply seven times seven, you get 49. That would be a perfect number for our team with Richard Petty and Jimmie Johnson.”"

Of course, there are several other numbers which would have some sort of significance if selected by the team for Johnson’s Chevrolet entry, and Beam’s comments are by no means any sort of confirmation.

In fact, Johnson and the team recently had some fun with the fans who are trying to guess what his number might be, so perhaps Beam is just adding to the speculation by presenting another number which could be seen as having significance in this situation.

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Nevertheless, the No. 49 makes sense for Johnson in more ways than one. Expect confirmation of his car number for his 687th career start and beyond to come in the very near future, with the 2023 season scheduled to get underway in just over a month and a half.