NASCAR: Jimmie Johnson answers an important question

Jimmie Johnson, Legacy Motor Club, NASCAR (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, Legacy Motor Club, NASCAR (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images) /

The car number for Jimmie Johnson’s entry with the rebranded Legacy Motor Club NASCAR Cup Series team was recently confirmed.

With No. 48 out of the picture, since Hendrick Motorsports planned to continue using it for Alex Bowman’s Chevrolet during the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season, seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson needed to find a new number with which to compete upon his Cup Series return.

From 2001 to 2020, Johnson only ever competed for Hendrick Motorsports at NASCAR’s top level, and he only ever drove the No. 48 Chevrolet. But after spending the last two seasons competing for Chip Ganassi Racing in IndyCar, he decided to return to the series where he made his name in 2023.

He joined Petty GMS Motorsports, which has since been rebranded as Legacy Motor Club upon his arrival, as not only a part-time driver but a co-owner, along with Richard Petty Motorsports owner Richard Petty, a seven-time Cup Series champion himself, and GMS Racing owner Maury Gallagher.

Johnson’s full schedule hasn’t been announced for the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season, but he is set to run the No. 84 Chevrolet when he competes.

No. 84 was one of the two numbers which had been considered “favorites”, with the No. 49 also considered to be a strong option.

While the obvious reason for this selection was the fact that the No. 84 is what you get when you reverse the digits of No. 48, Johnson offered a clue as to what another reason might be.

Johnson has been sitting at 83 Cup Series victories since June 2017, when he won at Dover Motor Speedway. That total is good for a sixth place tie with Cale Yarborough on the all-time wins list, but with two drivers, Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison, tied just ahead of him at 84, one more win effectively moves him up two spots into a fourth place tie.

Of course, he won’t want to stop at 84, though he will want to end his career-long win drought and get to it.

Johnson has made 686 career starts at NASCAR’s top level. Start number 687 is set to be his first with a number other than No. 48. He is set to attempt to qualify for the season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway next month, though the rest of his schedule hasn’t yet been decided.

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The team’s other two numbers, No. 42 and No. 43, both have deep ties to the Petty family legacy. Rookie Noah Gragson is set to replace Ty Dillon behind the wheel of the No. 42 Chevrolet while Erik Jones, who has been with the team since even before they were known as Petty GMS Motorsports, is set for a third year behind the wheel of the No. 43 Chevrolet.