Photo courtesy of James Gilbert | Getty Images
Before on-track activity begins for NASCAR’s Championship Weekend at Phoenix Raceway, Petty GMS Motorsports made a major announcement Friday morning inside the track’s media center.
Seven-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson will take an ownership stake in the Chevrolet team that has two cars currently driven by Erik Jones in the No. 43 and Ty Dillon in the No. 42. Next season, Noah Gragson will pilot the No. 42 in his rookie Cup year while Dillon shifts to the No. 77 at Spire Motorsports.
“I couldn’t be happier to have Jimmie Johnson joining Petty GMS,” team owner Maury Gallagher said in a statement. “We have been consistent since we began our Cup effort last year in wanting to be upfront and have a winning program. No one in the modern era of NASCAR has won more than Jimmie. Having a driver, the caliber of Jimmie, driving our equipment, and being able to provide feedback to our crew chiefs and engineers but most importantly, mentoring Erik and Noah will be invaluable.
“Perhaps most important of all, Jimmie will be a great partner. I know I speak for all the Petty GMS team members, including Richard Petty, in welcoming Jimmie to the team. No one else will be able to say they have two seven-time Cup champions on their team. We are looking to make a strong statement next year and show that we are here to contend for wins and championships. I can’t wait to see what we can achieve together.”
Along with the ownership stake, Johnson has plans to drive in select Cup races with Petty GMS in 2023, starting with the Daytona 500 on Feb. 19.
He hasn’t made a start in the Cup Series since the 2020 season finale where he finished fifth.
Since retiring from full-time NASCAR competition, Johnson made his way to the NTT IndyCar Series, piloting the No. 48 for Chip Ganassi Racing. He competed in 29 races across 2021 and 2022, owning an average finish of 19.6. His best finish was a fifth-place run at Iowa Speedway in July.
“It’s great to be back in NASCAR,” Johnson said in a statement. “When the IndyCar season ended I started on this journey of what was next. Maury and I connected, this opportunity came to light and it’s the perfect fit for me. Team ownership makes so much sense at this stage of my career and after spending time with Maury and his family, talking with Mike (Beam), Dave (Elenz, crew chief of the No. 43) and Joey (Cohen, Director of Competition and Engineering), I realized this was something I wanted to be involved with from both the business perspective and on the competition side. If I’m going to commit to something like this, I want to make a difference and have something tangible to show for it when it’s all said and done. So, this opportunity with Petty GMS is all of that and much more.”