CONCORD, N.C. – There’s no question that Jimmie Johnson is already one of NASCAR’s all-time greats. But there are still 36 races to add to the driver’s iconic career.
Although the 2020 season will be the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE driver’s final Cup Series season, Johnson still has the fight and drive to compete for what would be his record-setting eighth championship as he continues #Chasing8.
If anything, the decision has only fueled Johnson and the entire No. 48 team to make next season as special a send-off as possible.
“I’m looking forward to 2020 – I know that we have such an opportunity to send him out the right way,” No. 48 team crew chief Cliff Daniels said. “Like he said, this isn’t going to be a mail-it-in kind of year. It’s going to be a truly special year. All the racetracks we go to, every race is going to have so much gravity and so much magnitude for his career, for us, and to make sure we send him out the right way. I can’t wait.”
Since the news broke earlier this week, there has been an outpouring of support from everyone who knows, works with and even competes against the driver. Much of it has centered around the way in which Johnson has approached his entire career.
Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick said that same driven mindset on the track helped him know that when Johnson told him he wanted 2020 to be his final year, he was truly at peace with the decision. And that the driver will be just as successful in whatever life’s next venture will bring.
“Jimmie is the kind of guy that when he makes his mind up, he’s just full-speed ahead,” Hendrick said. “And I think he’s getting excited about 2020, try to win races and win the championship, and then I don’t know what’s going to happen beyond that, but whatever he does, he’ll be good in.”
Like Daniels, Hendrick wants to do everything he can to ensure next season will be one for the storybooks.
“I think everyone wants to see him go out in style, go out the way he wants to, and I think he’s going to have a great year,” the owner said.
While it seems that the offseason has just started, Johnson’s news has helped flash the competitive drive in everyone at Hendrick Motorsports ready to take on next season.
As the seven-time champion looks to turn the page on the full-time Cup Series chapter after next year, he knows he’s in for a ride unique to any other season of his career.
“2020, there’s no doubt about it, it’s going to be different,” Johnson said. “It’s going to feel different. I ultimately want it to be my most competitive year. I think the way the team is setting up, our cars, our engines, everything about 2020 for the Hendrick organization is looking really, really good."
“All of my excitement is really around a strong year and to try to have the right moment as I leave the sport.”