Jimmie Johnson will miss Sunday’s Brickyard 400 after testing positive for COVID-19, Hendrick Motorsports announced Friday.
The seven-time Cup Series champion released a statement regarding his absence:
“My first priority is the health and safety of my loved ones and my teammates. 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.”
According to Bob Pockrass of Fox Sports, Johnson has not experienced any symptoms but got tested after his wife, Chandra, tested positive.
Justin Allgaier will replace Johnson in the No. 48 car at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Johnson had started 663 straight races, the longest active streak in NASCAR, per Pockrass.
With the veteran set to retire after the 2020 season, this might have been his final chance to compete in Indianapolis on a track where he has won four times in his career.
The 44-year-old remains eligible for the playoffs because NASCAR has granted him a waiver, allowing him to miss time and return when he is symptom-free and has tested negative twice, per Pockrass.
Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports, said in a statement:
“Jimmie has handled this situation like the champion he is. 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.”
The driver had been in contact with one member of his team, who will now self-quarantine.
Johnson sits 12th in the standings with no wins in 15 starts. He is 63 points clear of the cutoff ahead of Austin Dillon in 17th place, but the field can narrow with nine more official races before the start of the playoffs.