NASCAR: 686-race streak set to end at Daytona

Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports, Daytona 500, NASCAR (Photo by Kevin Kane/WireImage)
Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports, Daytona 500, NASCAR (Photo by Kevin Kane/WireImage) /

With Jimmie Johnson back in the sport, a 686-race streak is set to come to an end to open up the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season.

After spending the last two seasons competing for Chip Ganassi Racing in IndyCar following his “retirement” from NASCAR Cup Series competition, seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson is set to return to the series where he made a name for himself in 2023.

Johnson signed with Petty GMS Motorsports as not only a part-time driver but as a co-owner, and the team, also owned by fellow seven-time champion Richard Petty and Maury Gallagher, renamed themselves Legacy Motor Club to reflect his arrival.

After two-plus months of waiting, it was finally confirmed that the 47-year-old El Cajon, California native is set to drive the No. 84 Chevrolet. No. 84 is what you get when you switch the digits in his longtime number, No. 48.

In fact, the No. 48 is the only number Jimmie Johnson has ever used in the NASCAR Cup Series.

Johnson made his Cup Series debut with Hendrick Motorsports at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 2001, and he competed in two more races for the team at Homestead-Miami Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway later in the season.

In 2002, he became a full-time driver, and from 2002 to 2020, he only missed one race, that being the 2020 race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway after he tested positive for COVID-19 (a test which, to this day, he believes may have produced a false positive).

From 2001 to 2020, he made 686 Cup Series starts. Every one of those starts came with Hendrick Motorsports, and every one of those starts came behind the wheel of the No. 48 Chevrolet.

Johnson even used the No. 48 when he went to IndyCar in 2021, driving the No. 48 Honda in the road and street course races for Chip Ganassi Racing. In 2022, he drove the car on a full-time basis. He made 29 starts in the series during those two seasons.

But with Hendrick Motorsports continuing to use the No. 48 for Alex Bowman’s Chevrolet in 2023, Johnson ultimately had to find a new number with which to compete upon his return to the sport’s top level.

And so a new era is set to begin in 2023, as Johnson’s 687th career Cup Series start will be his first without using the No. 48.

All-time NASCAR Cup Series wins list. dark. Next

Johnson is set to start today’s season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway in 39th place after locking his No. 84 Chevrolet into the field in Wednesday night’s qualifying session (see the full starting lineup here). The race is set to be broadcast live on Fox beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET. Start a free trial of FuboTV and tune in!