Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson has tested positive for COVID-19.
Johnson, the first-known active NASCAR driver to be diagnosed with the virus, will miss the Big Machine Hand Sanitizer Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 5.
Johnson, who is in the midst of his final full-time Cup Series season, was also slated to test an IndyCar at the speedway on Wednesday, July 8 for Chip Ganassi Racing.
“My first priority is the health and safety of my loved ones and my teammates,” Johnson said. “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.”
While Johnson will not be able to accrue points this weekend, NASCAR has already confirmed that Johnson will be granted a waiver to maintain his playoff eligibility for races missed due to his diagnosis.
“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,” Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick said. “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 & everyone involved.”
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) July 3, 2020
Since returning to competition following NASCAR’s hiatus for the COVID-19 pandemic, strict health and safety protocols have been set in place by the sanctioning body to prevent the spread of the disease through the NASCAR garage area and sanctioned tracks.
Prior to the 44-year-old’s diagnosis, only three individuals had tested positive; two shop employees for Stewart-Haas Racing and a road crew employee for Team Penske.
Johnson currently sits 12th in the Cup Series points standings with two top-fives and six top 10s. NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Justin Allgaier will fill in for Johnson at Indianapolis.