Jimmie Johnson Bio And Facts
Tied with Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt for the most NASCAR Cup Series Championship titles ever, Jimmie Johnson is arguably the best stock car racing driver of the modern era. But who is Jimmie Johnson in NASCAR? Keep reading to learn more about the most dominant NASCAR champion in this century.
- Born: September 17, 1975
- Hometown: El Cajon, California
- Net Worth: $160 million
- Occupation: Professional Race Car Driver (semi-retired)
- Height: 5’11” (1.80 m)
- Weight: 175 lb (79 kg)
- Seasons Active: 21 (2002-2023)
- Career Wins: 83
- Nickname: Superman
Jimmie Johnson grew up in El Cajon, California, where he started racing off-road motorcycles at age four. At seven, he won the championship in the 60cc class. After that, he began racing buggies and off-road sport trucks in various classes of the Mickey Thompson Entertainment Group (MTEG) Stadium Racing Series.
Johnson won championships in several stadium and desert racing classes in MTEG, then moved on to the Short Course Off-Road Drivers Association (SODA), driving short-course Trophy Trucks for Herzog Motorsports. There, he finished third in the 1997 Class 8 Championship.
During his early twenties, Johnson was also competing in desert races, especially the grueling Baja 1000 in the SCORE International (Southern California Off Road Enthusiasts) off-road racing series. In total, Johnson’s early off-road racing efforts across the MTEG, SODA, and SCORE series netted him 25 wins, six championships, and a Rookie of the Year commendation in each of the three series.
Still with Herzog Motorsports, Johnson began stock car racing in 1998 and drove full-time in the ASA National Tour Series. Over two years and 40 starts, he achieved two wins and 31 top-ten finishes. In the same two-year period, Johnson made eight starts in the Busch (now Xfinity) Series (also for Herzog), marking his first experience in a national NASCAR series. For the next two seasons, he went full-time Busch Series racing with Herzog, taking home his first NASCAR win in the 2001 Hills Bros. Coffee 300 at Chicagoland Speedway.
In 2001, Johnson caught the attention of Jeff Gordon (then the lead Cup Series driver at Hendrick Motorsports), who subsequently recruited him. Johnson drove in four Cup Series races for Hendrick in 2001, making his debut in the UAW-GM Quality 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway. In the 2002 season, Johnson moved to a full-time Cup Series ride in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Lowe’s-sponsored Chevrolet, a fourth team car fielded especially for him. Johnson had a strong rookie season in the Cup Series, taking the pole at the Daytona 500, getting his first win in the NAPA Auto Parts 500 at Auto Club Speedway, and narrowly missing out on Rookie of the Year to Ryan Newman.
2006 was when Johnson began to break out as a NASCAR superstar. That year, he won five races, the Cup Series Championship, and Driver of the Year. This was the beginning of an unprecedented period of dominance that has not been repeated. For the next four years, Johnson successfully defended his title, setting a NASCAR record with five consecutive Cup Series Championships.
Although his streak was spoiled by Tony Stewart’s championship win in 2011, Johnson managed to take home two more Cup Series titles in 2013 and 2016. This put him in a three-way tie with legends Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty for most Cup Series Championships ever.
IndyCar and IMSA
In 2020, Jimmie Johnson announced that year would be his last full-time season of NASCAR racing. Although he was already recognized as one of the best racing drivers of all time, he had not had a win in the Cup Series since 2017 and was looking for new opportunities. That same year, he ran an IndyCar test for Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR). The test went well, and CGR offered Johnson a part-time IndyCar ride for the 2021 season.
The 2021 NTT IndyCar season was a period of adjustment for Johnson. Only racing the road and street courses and avoiding the more dangerous ovals, he ran mostly at the back of the pack, getting accustomed to new cars and tracks. However, Johnson decided he would race full-time in 2022, again for CGR in his No. 48 Honda. Although the season was a success, Johnson announced he was retiring from full-time racing in September 2022.
Beginning in 2021, Johnson has also been competing in the endurance races on the IMSA SportsCar Championship schedule (24 Hours of Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring, and Petit Le Mans), driving the No. 48 Cadillac in the DPi class for the Ally Cadillac team. His best finish so far is second place in the 2021 24 Hour of Daytona.
In 2022, Jimmie Johnson purchased an ownership stake in the Petty GMS Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team, which then changed its name to Legacy Motor Club. In addition, Johnson announced he would be returning to part-time NASCAR competition, running at least two races for the team.
Johnson’s first race back in NASCAR was the 2023 Daytona 500. He started 39th and finished 31st after getting caught up in a major wreck during the first of two overtimes. Johnson has not yet announced which will be his second race of the season.
Titles and Awards
Jimmie Johnson’s most important titles are his seven NASCAR Cup Series championships, tied for most of all time with Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt. However, he has plenty of other titles to his name. Johnson won the All-Star Race four times and the Busch Clash twice.
In his first season in stock car racing, Johson won the 1998 ASA Rookie of the year award. Once he moved to NASCAR, he won Driver of the Year an incredible five times. In 2009, he was voted the Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year, and in 2020 he was honored with the Bill France Award of Excellence. After his first season in the IndyCar series, Johnson was voted the 2022 Rookie of the Year.
Johnson was born on September 17, 1975, in El Cajon, California. He is the son of Gary and Cathy Johnson and has two younger brothers, Jarit and Jessie. His brothers have both also competed as professional racing drivers in various off-road motorsports. Jimmie Johnson attended Granite Hills High School, where he not only raced motorcycles but also competed in diving, swimming, and water polo.
Johnson is married to Chandra Janway, a model, whom he first met in 2002. The couple have two children, daughters Genevieve and Lydia. Johnson and his wife created and launched the Jimmie Johnson Foundation in 2006. Together, they also opened up a four-lane bowling alley called Jimmie Johnson's Victory Lanes, which is located in Randleman, North Carolina. The bowling alley is a part of Pattie and Kyle Petty's Victory Junction Gang Camp and is used by the children that attend the camp. Johnson’s foundation hosts an annual golf tournament in San Diego, California, and is affiliated with various charities and institutions, including Habitat for Humanity, the Hendrick Marrow Program, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Victory Junction, and the American Red Cross.
- Johnson started racing 50cc motorcycles at age five.
- In 2006, Johnson launched the Jimmie Johnson Foundation with his wife, Chandra. The foundation helps with various causes, including health, wellness, and disaster relief, and has also aided in education, such as by financing K-12 public education across the country via an initiative called the Champions Grant Program.
- Johnson competed in the 2019 Boston Marathon. He placed 4,155th, with a time of 3:09:07.
- In addition to enjoying NASCAR and running, Johnson also practices hobbies in art and photography, which he enjoys partly because his wife owns the SOCO Art Gallery in Charlotte, North Carolina.
- Johnson’s famous race car number, #48, is a combination of two of his favorite lucky numbers, 4 and 8. Neither number was available when Johnson joined Hendrick Motorsports, so he chose #48 in order to combine them both.
- Johnson has created and released his own video game, Jimmie Johnson's Anything with an Engine. The game was released in 2011.
- Johnson has had a few notable roles in film and television. He appeared as himself in the 2005 film Herbie Fully Loaded and the TV sitcom Superstore. He has also lent his voice to children’s TV programs such as Blaze and the Monster Machines and Mickey Mouse Mixed-Up Adventures.
Is Jimmie Johnson retired?
Jimmie Johnson is semi-retired. Johnson left NACAR at the end of the 2020 season and drove part-time in the 2021 IndyCar season for Chip Ganassi Racing. Johnson drove the entire season for Ganassi in 2022 but announced he was stepping away from full-time competition in September 2022. In 2023, he returned to part-time NASCAR competition, starting at least two races for Legacy Motor Club, the team in which Johnson purchased an ownership stake in 2022.
What number is Jimmie Johnson?
Jimmie Johnson drove the No. 48 car. Starting in 2002, Johnson raced full-time for Hendrick Motorsports behind the wheel of the No. 48 Chevrolet. He stayed with the team for his entire 20-season Cup Series career, driving the same car. When Johnson competed for two seasons in IndyCar in 2021 and 2022, he drove for Chip Ganassi Racing, again in the No. 48 car. In occasional IMSA sports car races, he also drives the No. 48. For his 2023 return to part-time NASCAR racing, Johnson drove the 84 car, as the 48 was already taken by Alex Bowman.