Jimmie Johnson Cleared to Return

FONTANA, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 28: Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Ally Chevrolet, speaks ahead of practice at Auto Club Speedway on February 28, 2020 in Fontana, California. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

Jimmie Johnson has been cleared to return to competition Hendrick Motorsports announced Wednesday. The team said he will drive the No. 48 Hendrick Chevrolet in this weekend’s Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway.

Johnson said he had tested positive for COVID-19 Friday and did not compete at Indianapolis on Sunday, marking the first time he has missed a race in his Cup Series career breaking a streak of 663 consecutive starts dating back to 2002.

The team said Johnson tested negative twice this week – on Monday and Tuesday – and was cleared by his physician Tuesday evening in accordance with NASCAR guidelines.

Johnson said last week that he never experienced symptoms.

“My family is so grateful for the incredible love and support we’ve received over the last several days,” Johnson said. “I especially want to thank Justin Allgaier for stepping in for me at Indy and being a true pro. I’m excited about getting back to business with my team this weekend.”

The team said following Johnson’s diagnosis, four Hendrick Motorsports crew members were tested for COVID-19 with all four receiving negative results and that the No. 48 team will have its regular personnel roster for Sunday’s event at Kentucky.

Johnson, 44, is currently 15th in the driver standings, 46 points above the cutoff for the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.

Hendrick Motorsports said it 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.

Greg Engle