On Friday Afternoon, seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, Johnson will miss Sunday’s race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and will not return to competition until being cleared by a physician. Justin Allgaier will drive the No. 48 Ally Financial Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE for Hendrick Motorsports on Sunday.
Johnson, 44, was tested for COVID-19 this morning, after learning that his wife, Chandra, had tested positive for the virus after experiencing allergy-like symptoms.
“My first priority is the health and safety of my loved ones and my teammates,” Johnson said. “I’ve never missed a race in my Cup career, but I know it’s going to be very hard to watch from the sidelines when I’m supposed to be out there competing. Although this situation is extremely disappointing, I’m going to come back ready to win races and put ourselves in playoff contention.”
Johnson was in constant communication with Hendrick Motorsports before and after being tested for COVID-19. HMS immediately informed NASCAR and has since been coordinating with the sanctioning body. As a precaution, one member of the No. 48 traveling crew has been ordered to self-quarantine because of their close contact with Johnson.
“Jimmie has handled this situation like the champion he is,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. “We’re relieved he isn’t showing symptoms and that [Chandra] is doing great, and we know he’ll be back and ready to go very soon. It’s going to be difficult for him to be out of the car and away from his team, but it’s the right thing to do for Jimmie and everyone involved.”
Hendrick Motorsports has implemented detailed procedures to protect the health of its team members. They include daily COVID-19 screenings at the team facilities; the separation of facility operations and traveling personnel; split work schedules; stringent face covering and social distancing requirements; and an increased level of disinfecting and sanitization of all work areas.
NASCAR has stated that Johnson will receive a playoff-waiver when he does return. Johnson entered Indianapolis 12th in point standings 63 points ahead of Austin Dillon, the first driver outside the Top-16.
Following the guidelines outlined in the Event Operations Protocol manual, Jimmie Johnson has alerted NASCAR that he has tested positive for COVID-19.
“NASCAR has outlined the steps for Johnson’s return, in accordance with the CDC’s current guidelines, which includes that Johnson is symptom free and has two negative COVID-19 test results, at least 24 hours apart. NASCAR requires Johnson to be cleared by his physician before returning to racing.
“Jimmie is a true battle-tested champion, and we wish him well in his recovery. NASCAR has granted Jimmie a playoff waiver, and we look forward to his return as he races for an eighth NASCAR Cup Series championship.”
— NASCAR Statement