The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season was supposed to be a final full-time tour for Jimmie Johnson.
There were a lot of things that 2020 was supposed to bring that have been delayed or postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States.
Johnson’s farewell season could even be included.
“I really don’t have an answer just yet,” Johnson said. “I really don’t know what’s going to happen in the coming months and if we’ll be able to run the full season or not.”
Jimmie Johnson balances Retirement Plans, Break from Action
As things stand, right now, Johnson still wants to make this year his last full tour.
However, there are still a lot of question marks in both the NASCAR schedule that has been rumored to be planned to start back up with the Coca Cola 600 in late-May and how the world combats COVID-19.
“I’ve set out to make 2020 my last full-time year, but I’ve always left the door open for other racing in NASCAR and abroad for the future,” Johnson said. “I feel like I’m still pretty much on that path. It’s up in the air just as so much is in the world right now.”
To get the season in, in it’s entirety, Johnson believes it will take a lot.
After all, NASCAR has lost four races already with more to come in the next few weeks. Even if the season got off of the ground in late May, it’d be a challenge.
“I can only imagine the balancing act that NASCAR, TV, and these tracks will need to do,” Johnson said. “Many of our contracts and much of the structure that exists revolves around 36 races. I would assume that is of the highest of priorities – to have those 36 points paying events.”
NASCAR has played around with the idea of hosting mid-week races on Wednesday nights in the past, and the outbreak might actually force their hand at it.
There’s also talks of double-header weekends that see two Cup series races at the same track in two days. That would be more for the tracks on the schedule that have had one of their two dates cancelled.
For Johnson, he’s game for anything.
“How that happens, for me, I’m totally fluid,” Johnson said. “We’re in uncharted territory here. I’ll do my part in whatever I can and certainly support whatever we need to do to get in those 36 races. “I don’t have a problem with it. As a driver, you just want to take your helmet and go. I’m just one point of view on that thing. I think about the crew members that have to get things ready and move cars around the country as they need to, too.”
Whatever situation arises, Johnson wants to see it happen.
That includes the possibility of having to run races without fans in attendance.
“It’s not the ideal situation, by any means,” Johnson said. “I know our sport amongst any sport out there is going to be faced with that (decision). I think it’s a real simple answer. There are billions that watch on television. I don’t want to deprive the greater self.”
“We’re in uncharted territory and we’re going to have to do things a little differently than we’re used to,” Johnson said. “If we can get back to the track much before because our fans aren’t in the stands, it’s normalcy returning to our industry and I’m definitely for that.”
In the meantime, NASCAR has provided a relief to fans and a brief return to normalcy to drivers through the iRacing platform.
After NASCAR had started televising the races on Sunday’s that replaced the Cup races’ time slots, the make-shift series has taken off.
It holds the record for being the most-watched eSports event on Television, ever.
“It’s nice to have a purpose,” Johnson said. “I’ve spent my whole life worried about going racing each week. It provides a little bit more structure for me – more than I anticipated honestly. To see the viewership numbers and how much fun the fans are having watching it, it just motivated me.”
For NASCAR, its crew members, the drivers, and fans – whether in attendance or not – the resumption of the season couldn’t come soon enough.
Towards the end of his teleconference, Jimmie Johnson provided some advice for the country.
“We’re all in this together,” Johnson said. “Let’s do our part. The sooner we control the curve and push things down, the sooner we can control the curve and figure out what our new normal is.”