Prior to his diagnosis, Jimmie Johnson was slated to compete at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday

By Gabrielle Chung
July 03, 2020 08:27 PM
Jimmie Johnson
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson has tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) ahead of his scheduled race this weekend.

Johnson, 44, confirmed his diagnosis on Friday in a statement released by his team, Hendrick Motorsports.

“My first priority is the health and safety of my loved ones and my teammates,” he said in the statement. “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 is asymptomatic, he was tested for coronavirus upon learning that his wife Chandra was diagnosed with COVID-19 after experiencing allergy-like symptoms, according to his team.

Jimmie Johnson
Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

Prior to his diagnosis, Johnson was slated to compete at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday.

The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has since been replaced with Justin Allgaier, who will drive the No. 48 Chevrolet.

“Jimmie has handled this situation like the champion he is,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports, said in a statement. “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 said in a statement that Johnson will be allowed to return to racing after following the guidelines outlined in their Event Operations Protocols manual, which includes that he be symptom-free and has two negative COVID-19 test results, at least 24 hours apart.

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"NASCAR requires Johnson to be cleared by his physician before returning to racing," the statement read. "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.”

As of Friday, there have been more than 2,805,900 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, at least 129,300 deaths from coronavirus-related illness, according to a New York Times database.

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