7-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson tests positive for coronavirus

7-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson tests positive for coronavirus
Jimmie Johnson, a seven-time series winner on NASCAR's main circuit, announced he has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Jimmie Johnson, a seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, has tested positive for the coronavirus, Hendrick Motorsports announced Friday.

The announcement means Johnson will not race at this weekend’s Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, NASCAR.com reported. Johnson was shooting for his fifth win at the fabled Brickyard, which would have tied him with Jeff Gordon and Michael Schumacher.

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Justin Allgaier will drive the No. 48 Chevrolet in Sunday’s race, Hendrick Motorsports said.

Johnson, 44, is the first driver in any NASCAR series to test positive, ESPN reported.

“My first priority is the health and safety of my loved ones and my teammates,” Johnson said in a news release. “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.”

Hendrick Motorsports said Johnson will not return until he is cleared by a physician, ESPN reported. The driver has not shown any symptoms of the virus, but was tested after his wife tested positive.

“Jimmie has handled this situation like the champion he is,” 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 has outlined the steps for Johnson’s return, in accordance with the CDC’s current guidelines, which includes that Johnson is symptom-free and has two negative COVID-19 test results, at least 24 hours apart,” NASCAR said in a statement. “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.”