Jimmie Johnson still might drive the No. 48 car in 2023

Jimmie Johnson, Chip Ganassi Racing, IndyCar (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, Chip Ganassi Racing, IndyCar (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images) /

Jimmie Johnson could still end up behind the wheel of a No. 48 car during the 2023 season, even though his new NASCAR Cup Series number is No. 84.

After spending the last two seasons competing for Chip Ganassi Racing in IndyCar behind the wheel of the No. 48 Honda, seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson made the decision to return to the Cup Series in 2023.

Johnson signed a contract with Petty GMS Motorsports, which have since renamed themselves to Legacy Motor Club, to become not only a part-time driver but a co-owner of the organization.

The 47-year-old El Cajon, California native competed in the Cup Series from 2001 to 2020, doing so as a full-time driver from 2002 to 2020, and he only ever drove the No. 48 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports (686 total starts).

But with Hendrick Motorsports continuing to run the No. 48 for Alex Bowman’s Chevrolet in 2023, Johnson needed to find a new number, and he opted for No. 84.

However, Jimmie Johnson could still end up behind the wheel of the No. 48 car in 2023.

It just won’t happen in the Cup Series.

Johnson made the decision not to return to IndyCar on a full-time basis in 2023, but the door remains open for him to compete in the Indy 500, with team owner Chip Ganassi reportedly awaiting his decision. While he is set to drive a Chevrolet in the Cup Series, he would be permitted to drive a Honda in the Indy 500.

A second consecutive Indy 500 bid for Johnson would have to come in a fifth Chip Ganassi Racing entry, as the team have already begun to fill what was once his full-time entry, naming Marcus Armstrong as the driver of the road and street course races. Two-time Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato has long been rumored to drive the car in the oval races.

However, the car has been renumbered from No. 48 to No. 11, meaning that if Johnson does decide to return to the Indy 500 in a fifth entry, he would probably get another chance to drive the No. 48 Honda.

Tony Kanaan, who drove the team’s fifth entry in the 2022 Indy 500, is set to compete for Arrow McLaren in this year’s running of the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing”.

Perhaps holding up Johnson’s decision is the fact that the All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway, which is reportedly high on his wish list for the 2023 season, is scheduled to take place on the same weekend as Indy 500 qualifying.

Carvana have already committed to sponsoring him in whatever races he wants to compete in throughout the year, so it will be interesting to see what he decides.

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Other than the fact that he is set to attempt to qualify for the season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway, nothing has been confirmed about his 2023 schedule.