Seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss this weekend’s race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Brickyard 400.
Johnson 44, is the first NASCAR driver to test positive for coronavirus and will be quarantined until testing negative. He was tested earlier Friday after his wife, Chani, tested positive after experiencing allergy-like symptoms.
Hendrick Motorsports said Johnson will not return until he is cleared by a physician.
“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 conducted a Zoom meeting on Friday to what was supposed to be his final Brickyard 400. Justin Allgaier will replace Johnson in the No. 48 Chevrolet.
“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 Chani 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 said it has implemented detailed procedures to protect the health of its team members, including daily COVID-19 screenings at 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.
Johnson is scheduled to retire from full-time NASCAR competition at the end of the season and was trying to tie Jeff Gordon and Michael Schumacher as the only five-time winners at Indianapolis.