INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson has tested positive for the coronavirus and will miss this weekend’s race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The 44-year-old Johnson is the first driver in any NASCAR series to test positive and the news cast a shadow over the historic NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader races coming up Saturday and Sunday. There was no indication any races would be affected.
Hendrick Motorsports said Johnson will not return until he is cleared by a physician. Has no symptoms, but was tested today after his wife tested positive.
Johnson earlier Friday held a Zoom session with reporters to discuss Sunday’s race and an upcoming test of an Indy car on the road course at the fabled venue. He will now miss that test, as well as what was supposed to be his final Brickyard 400. Justin Allgaier will replace him Sunday in the No. 48 Chevrolet.
Johnson is scheduled to retire from full-time NASCAR competition at the end of the season and was trying to tie Jeff Gordon and Michael Schumacher as the only five-time winners at Indianapolis.
Johnson has made 663 conscutive Cup Series starts – the longest streak among active drivers – and is currently 12th in the standings, 63 points inside the playoff picture. NASCAR’s rules state a driver must be symptom free and have two negative coronavirus tests in a 24-hour span to return.
Johnson could potentially also miss the Cup race at Kentucky and the All-Star race at Bristol. Next week’s test of the road course at Indy in Scott Dixon’s car has also been scrapped.
NASCAR was one of the first sports to resume competition from the pandemic shutdown and has completed 11 Cup races since its May 17 return. The sanctioning body does not test for coronavirus but participants are required to do a temperature check as they enter the facility.