Jimmie Johnson will return to the Cup Series as a rookie after being away from the sport since 2020, says the team’s co-owner Richard Petty.
The path is set for the seven-time Cup Series champion to return to NASCAR. He has his team, which he co-owns with Maury Gallagher and Petty, and now even have the number for the car he will be driving this season (No. 84). And recently, they even got the name of the team changed from Petty GMS Racing to Legacy Motor Club.
The name change was “to have a name (Legacy) that honored the past and acknowledged the future. The term ‘Motor Club’ is a nod to car clubs of the past,” said Johnson.
While Johnson is returning with much fanfare and anticipation, Petty is already playing down Johnson taking the series by storm on his return. Getting his 84th career Cup win might be a lot harder task even for the seven-time champion.
In fact, Petty even called Johnson a “rookie” as the car is completely different to what Johnson was used to driving. Speaking to Bob Pockrass, Petty said:
“Richard Petty says Jimmie Johnson, who will get laps in a Next Gen car Wednesday at Phoenix under NASCAR’s test provision that allows an elite driver from another series to get laps, says Johnson will be like a rookie as the car is so different than the previous Cup car.”
Richard Petty says Jimmie Johnson, who will get laps in a Next Gen car Wednesday at Phoenix under NASCAR’s test provision that allows an elite driver from another series to get laps, says Johnson will be like a rookie as the car is so different than the previous Cup car. pic.twitter.com/g9BVqxM7fo
— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) January 21, 2023
“He’s been in over 40 cars in Indy cars this car is going to be completely different than anything’s ever been.” Said Petty
“It’s hard to be this old being a rookie so basically he’s a rookie in this kind of car.”
However, Petty also added that Johnson is a fast learner. It is true that NASCAR has introduced the Next Gen car since Johnson’s departure. However, on the other side, as we saw in the 2022 season, with a lot of new winners, the unpredictability of the Next Gen car could also play in Johnson’s favour.