Johnson must be symptom-free, have two negative tests at least 24 hours apart and be cleared by a physician before he can drive again, according to NASCAR’s instructions, which comply with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
“My first priority is the health and safety of my loved ones and my teammates,” Johnson said, per the Associated Press. “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.”
Xfinity Series driver Justin Allgaier will replace Johnson in the No. 48 Chevrolet.
“Jimmie has handled this situation like the champion he is,” Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick said. “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.”
Hendrick Motorsports said it has implemented detailed procedures to protect its team, including daily screenings at team facilities, separating facility operations and traveling personnel, dividing work schedules, strict face covering and social distancing rules and an increase in disinfecting and sanitizing of all work areas.
NASCAR hoped to provide a safe, reliable model for other sports leagues to follow when it resumed action May 17 following a two-month layoff because of the pandemic. As positive cases rise across the country, it now must react to having one of its stars sidelined.
Johnson is 12th in the Cup Series standings with six top-10 finishes in 15 starts. He is 10th all-time with 84 combined wins between NASCAR’s Cup Series and Xfinity Series.
“Jimmie is a true battle-tested champion, and we wish him well in his recovery,” NASCAR said in a statement. “NASCAR has granted Jimmie a playoff waiver, and we look forward to his return as he races for an eighth NASCAR Cup Series championship.”