INDIANAPOLIS (AP/WBTV) - NASCAR star Jimmie Johnson has tested positive for the coronavirus.
The seven-time champion will miss what was supposed to be his final Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend. He will be sidelined and miss testing an Indy car on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway next week.
Hendrick Motorsports says Johnson will not return to competition until being cleared by a physician.
The 44-year-old driver has reportedly not experienced symptoms of COVID-19. He was tested upon learning Friday morning that his wife, Chandra, tested positive after experiencing allergy-like symptoms.
In Johnson’s absence, Justin Allgaier will drive the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE for Hendrick Motorsports on Sunday at Indianapolis.
“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.”
Hendrick Motorsports says Johnson was in constant communication with them before and after being tested for COVID-19. The team immediately informed NASCAR and has been coordinating with the sanctioning body. As a precaution, it has also identified one member of the No. 48 traveling crew to self-quarantine due to close contact with the driver.
“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 has implemented detailed procedures to protect the health of its team members. NASCAR issued a statement Friday evening.
“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,” a statement from NASCAR read.
Johnson had talked about the test and the possibility of running the Indianapolis 500. Hours later, he said he had tested positive for the coronavirus.
“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,” the NASCAR statement ended.