Your eyes don’t deceive you!
Jimmie Johnson is making his long-awaited return to NASCAR this week, racing in the Daytona 500 more than two years after retiring from NASCAR and a few months after retiring from full-time racing.
Back in action as an owner-driver for Legacy Motor Club (formerly Petty GMS Motorsports), the 47-year-old Johnson is set to participate in a select number of races this season. That schedule starts this week after he qualified for a spot in the Cup Series’ season-opening race.
Jimmie Johnson and Travis Pastrana WILL RACE in the 2023 #DAYTONA500! https://t.co/L5DNE7Shjp pic.twitter.com/XkwCPR4zTJ
— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) February 16, 2023
He was able to recapture some of the magic that helped him win the Daytona 500 in 2006 and 2013. But he won’t be racing in his iconic No. 48 car on Sunday; instead, Johnson will be in the No. 84 car, the inverse of that number.
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Here’s a look at why Johnson chose No. 84 for his return to racing.
Why is Jimmie Johnson driving the No. 84 car?
Alex Bowman took over Johnson’s No. 48 car in 2020, so the legend’s longtime number wasn’t available this year.
With a limited amount of numbers unclaimed, Johnson settled on No. 84. He told Fox Sports earlier in February that he first selected No. 48 early in his career because those two numbers were meaningful to him while he was growing up.
“The number four, the number eight have always been significant numbers for me,” Johnson said, adding, “They’re two numbers I can’t live without.”
Jimmie Johnson on why he chose the number 84 for his return to racing with Legacy Motor Club: pic.twitter.com/HJ3Hwncb55
— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) February 10, 2023
Asked by Fox Sports whether the fact he has 83 career wins factored into his choice, Johnson said that did “add another layer as to why we did it,” calling it a “secondary nod” to his case for an 84th win.
MORE: NASCAR schedule 2023: Date, time, TV channels for every Cup Series race
Johnson also said he would have considered No. 44, but the number wasn’t available. Will a new number bring some new life to Johnson’s career? The Daytona 500 will help answer that question.
Who drives the No. 48 car now?
Alex Bowman drives the No. 48 car, which is a Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. He has been the driver of the No. 48 since 2020. Bowman races for Hendrick Motorsports, and he recently signed a three-year extension with the team.
Jimmie Johnson career wins
Johnson is among the most accomplished NASCAR drivers in history with seven Cup Series championships. He won five consecutive championships from 2006-10 and last claimed the title in 2016.
MORE: NASCAR gives Jimmie Johnson a retirement sendoff befitting his legacy before final race
In all, Johnson has won 83 Cup Series races in his NASCAR career and earned 374 top-10 finishes. His 83 wins tie him for sixth all time on a list that Richard Petty tops with 200. Johnson has also won the Daytona 500 twice.
He raced in NASCAR until 2020, but his last win in a Cup Series race came in June 2017. While his days of full-time racing are over, Johnson will now have more chances to add to his accolades in 2023. That begins this week at Daytona.