Jimmie Johnson will become the first NASCAR driver to miss a race due to COVID-19.
On Friday the seven-time series champion, who was seeking his fifth win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, announced he had the coronavirus.
“My first priority is the health and safety of my loved ones and my teammates,” Johnson said in a team release. “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.”
Justin Allgaier will now take the seat of the No. 48 Chevrolet for Sunday’s race at the bring yard.
While Johnson will not gain any points during his time away from the track he will receive a waiver should he qualify for the postseason.
Johnson underwent a test after learning that his wife , Chandra, had tested positive for the virus.
“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.”
NASCAR also released a statement.
“Following the guidelines outlined in the Event Operations Protocols manual, Jimmie Johnson has alerted NASCAR that he has tested positive for COVID-19. 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. 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.”