|Johnson being cheated out of a proper farewell tour|
The 2020 NASCAR season was supposed to be a celebratory farewell tour for legendary driver Jimmie Johnson.
The seven-time Cup Series champion decided to take a final career lap after 20 campaigns on the senior circuit inside the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for Hendrick Motor Sports.
Most of the racetracks on the circuit had arranged dedications to Johnson’s remarkable career, but those plans were red-flagged by the global COVID-19 pandemic. NASCAR suspended racing on March 16 prior to the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Johnson, 44, was noncommittal about his future, but didn’t rule out postponing his retirement from Cup Series racing because of the unexpected downtime.
“I really don’t have an answer for that just yet because I don’t know what’s going to happen in the coming months and if we’ll be able to run the full season or not," said Johnson during a Thursday morning conference call.
“I feel like I set out to make 2020 my last full-time year, but I always left the door open for other racing and NASCAR and racing abroad for the future.
“I feel like I’m pretty much on that path. I am hopeful that we can get that going in a month or so or whatever the latest projected number possibly could be and that I can run the season in its entirety. I really don’t have an answer. It’s up in the air just as much as the world is up in the air right now."
“Jimmie Johnson is one of the best athletes in the world and one of the most successful drivers in NASCAR history," said NHMS executive vice president and general manager Dave McGrath. “He is a three-time winner at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and a seven-time champion whose legacy will continue for years to come.
“Here in New England his impact included winning races, spending time with fans and running the (2019) Boston Marathon. We can’t wait to celebrate his accomplishments with the fans during the Foxwoods 301 on July 19."
Like the other drivers on the tour, Johnson is trying to stay focused by participating in simulated NASCAR iRacing and IndyCar iRacing events. The rest of the time he keeps busy home-schooling his daughters Genevieve and Lydia.
“On the NASCAR side, the ovals are much easier to drive on the SIM," said Johnson. “For the NASCAR side, its much more familiar and it’s just learning the game component of it all.
“I’ve really struggled with the IndyCar side. I’m learning new tracks and a new ride. There are different challenges that come with it."