Longtime NASCAR star Jimmie Johnson said Wednesday he plans to retire from the top-tier stock car circuit following its 2020 season, marking the end of one of the most lucrative and decorated runs in the sport’s history.
Johnson, 44, has regularly topped all NASCAR drivers in terms of income in recent years, earning $17.5 million in the 12 months ending in June alone, according to Forbes. He is also said to be the only current NASCAR driver to earn a salary in excess of $10 million from his racing team, Hendrick Motorsports.
“I’m so thankful for 18 incredible years of racing in NASCAR,” Johnson said in a statement. “The sport has been good to me. It has allowed me to do something I truly love. I showed up chasing a dream and achieved more than I ever thought possible. I’m looking forward to next season and celebrating what will be my last year as a full-time NASCAR Cup driver. I know what this team is capable of, and I hope 2020 is one of the best yet.”
A fixture in the NASCAR Cup Series since the early 2000s, Johnson has driven the No. 48 car for Hendrick Motorsports since the start of his career. The Lowe’s home improvement chain served as his car sponsor until 2018, when Ally Financial signed on through the 2020 season.
Known as one of NASCAR’s most marketable drivers, Johnson also has endorsement deals in place with Chevrolet and Gatorade, among other companies. His contract with Hendrick expires after the 2020 season.
Johnson has won the NASCAR Cup Series on seven separate occasions, tied for most all-time among drivers. He last won a championship in 2016.
His performance has fallen off slightly in recent years. Johnson has 83 career NASCAR Cup Series victories, but he hasn’t won a race since 2017.
Johnson is scheduled to conduct a press conference on Thursday to provide further details on his decision.