NASCAR: Another possibility emerging for Jimmie Johnson

Jimmie Johnson, Legacy Motor Club, NASCAR - Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Jimmie Johnson, Legacy Motor Club, NASCAR - Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

After adding two races to his schedule for the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season, Jimmie Johnson doesn’t appear to be done yet.

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson is back in the Cup Series this year, albeit on a part-time basis, after spending the last two seasons competing in IndyCar for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Johnson is now a co-owner of Legacy Motor Club, the team formerly known as Petty GMS Motorsports (and Richard Petty Motorsports), and made his NASCAR return in the season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.

He has since confirmed that he plans to compete in the race at Circuit of the Americas, where he has never before competed in a Cup Series event, on Sunday, March 26, as well as the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, a race he has won four times, on Sunday, May 28.

Prior to this announcement, his only other confirmed start had been the inaugural race at the Chicago Street Course on Sunday, July 2.

Given the fact that the 47-year-old El Cajon, California native has said that he has a wish list of between 12 and 14 events that he would like to run and that he is aiming to trim that list down to between five and 10, his schedule is effectively expanding when that list gets smaller.

Now it is small enough that we may be able to infer another location where he might make an appearance, and that is North Wilkesboro Speedway.

North Wilkesboro Speedway is back on the Cup Series schedule this year for the first time since 1996, though it is scheduled to host the All-Star Race as opposed to a points race. This race is scheduled for Sunday, May 21.

The 47-year-old El Cajon, California native has stated that the All-Star Race is high on his wish list. Like Circuit of the Americas, North Wilkesboro Speedway is a track where he has never previously competed in a Cup Series race.

But he was also rumored to be interested in running IndyCar’s Indy 500 again, thus setting him up for a rare Memorial Day Double attempt. Chip Ganassi Racing are reportedly waiting on an official decision.

Despite being a former Cup Series champion and All-Star Race winner and therefore meeting the criteria to compete in the All-Star Race, Johnson would have to qualify for it via the All-Star Open (or the Fan Vote) because he is not currently a full-time driver (and did not win a race in 2021 or 2022).

With the Indy 500 qualifying schedule conflicting with that of the All-Star Open and All-Star Race, a decision on the Indy 500 would likely impact a decision on the All-Star Race.

Now, according to Fox Sports’ Bob Pockrass, the Indy 500 is “unlikely” for Johnson this year.

The door is open for Jimmie Johnson to run the NASCAR All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway.

Having confirmed the Chicago race more than a month before the races at Circuit of the Americas and Charlotte Motor Speedway, Johnson isn’t necessarily confirming races on his schedule in order; it’s sort of a make-it-up-as-he-goes type thing.

So just because he has already announced the Coca-Cola 600 as a part of his schedule doesn’t mean the All-Star Race is off the table, even though it is scheduled to take place one week prior.

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If and when the Indy 500 is officially ruled out for Johnson this May, look for him to confirm a return to the All-Star Race and make his first Cup Series start at North Wilkesboro Speedway.