CONCORD, N.C. -- Jimmie Johnson discussed the difficult process he and his family has faced since being diagnosed with COVID-19 on Friday, which will cause him to miss the Brickyard 400 this Sunday.
The seven-time Cup Series champion has been in Aspen, Colorado, with his wife, Chandra, and their two young daughters for the past several weeks. Johnson said his wife started experiencing allergy-like symptoms, which isn't uncommon for the couple. Both of them have allergies, but Chandra decided to get tested to be safe.
"We waited on her test results, which took a couple of days," Johnson said Saturday. "Those came in (Friday) morning around 9 o’clock. From that point on, we were just dealing the issues at hand and trying to understand if I was positive. I was lucky to get in and be tested and get a quick result for myself and my children. My kids are negative, Chani and I are positive, which is a crazy situation to try to manage in our household right now."
Johnson said he is asymptomatic and his wife's symptoms are mild. He added that he's grateful their situation isn't worse but said it's been tough to try and keep daughters Genevieve and Lydia healthy while maintaining distance. He added he and his wife are "heartbroken" because their daughters are worried and afraid.
"Our biggest concern is for our children," Johnson said. "Of course, we are being very responsible in our home and trying to self-isolate, but at the same time, we have to parent. That's the tricky hurdle we're trying to sort out right now. I'm on top of managing their fears. ... For a 9- and a 6-year-old - to try and manage their fears right now and they can't come around Mom and Dad."
As for the process of returning to the track, Johnson needs to have two negative COVID-19 tests come back 24 hours apart. Once that occurs, Johnson can start the process of coming back to the No. 48 team. Missing Sunday's race marks the first time in his Cup Series career that Johnson has not competed at the track, breaking a 663-consecutive start streak.
“2020 has been interesting, there’s no doubt about it,” he said. “I can be down and out about my situation, but if I turn on the news and see how this virus is impacting so many others, quickly I’m thankful that I’m asymptomatic and don’t have any other issues.”
In the meantime, Justin Allgaier will pilot the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE for Hendrick Motorsports. He will fill in for Johnson this weekend at Indianapolis and possibly next week at Kentucky. Johnson added that by sticking to the 14-day isolation protocol, he probably will miss the All-Star Race on July 15, as well.
Crew chief Cliff Daniels said the team already has fitted Allgaier for the car and have forfeited the fourth-place starting position at Indianapolis. Daniels said for Allgaier to be more comfortable, the team now will start from the back and will have to change its strategy.
"We really needed to make sure Justin was comfortable in the car," Daniels said. "We had a lot of notes (on Allgaier), fortunately, with (Hendrick Motorsports) and through our relationship with Junior Motorsports to get the correct fitment numbers for (him) ... then, of course, we have a July weekend in Indianapolis, so it's going to be really warm. (We need) to make sure he stays nice and cool and comfortable in the car.
"... With the quality driver that he is, I know he's going to be rearing to go."