7-time NASCAR champ Jimmie Johnson acquires ownership stake in Petty GMS Racing

Jimmie Johnson is making a return to the Cup Series. And is now a NASCAR team owner.

Petty GMS Racing announced Friday that Johnson had acquired an ownership stake in the team and would drive part-time in 2023. Johnson's schedule is undetermined, but the team confirmed that he will attempt to qualify for the Daytona 500 in February.

The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion announced his retirement from full-time racing at the end of the 2022 IndyCar season. He raced full-time in IndyCar in 2022 and made his Indianapolis 500 debut in what was an otherwise disappointing season. Johnson had two top 10s in 17 starts and had an average finish of nearly 19th. He finished ahead of just three other full-time drivers in the standings.

Johnson retired from NASCAR at the end of the 2020 season and said he wanted to explore other racing endeavors. He raced part-time in IndyCar in 2021 before running a full schedule this past season and has run part-time in IMSA over the past two seasons. He's been mentioned as a possibility to run in the 24 Hours of Le Mans this summer as part of a NASCAR effort to run a car in the iconic endurance race.

Johnson said at the end of the 2022 season that he still wanted to race on a part-time basis and has never ruled out a return to select NASCAR events. He's now part of an ownership group that includes drivers with 14 Cup Series titles.

“What an exciting time for Petty GMS,” seven-time Cup champion Richard Petty said in a statement. “This year we’ve accomplished so much together with Maury [Gallagher] and now adding Jimmie will only continue to help us grow. To have Jimmie - another seven-time champion – as a part of the team, and his abilities both on track and off will be special for Petty GMS. I’m looking forward to having him as a part of our team and seeing what we can build together."

Petty GMS is set to complete its first season of its current existence in Sunday’s season finale at Phoenix. The former Richard Petty Motorsports team was acquired by Xfinity and Truck Series team GMS Racing ahead of the season and expanded to two cars. Erik Jones is in the No. 43 car while Ty Dillon has one more race to go in the No. 42. Dillon will be replaced by Noah Gragson in that car in 2023.

FILE - Jimmie Johnson speaks about joining the team of Chip Ganassi for the IndyCar series at a press conference during the IndyCar race weekend in St. Petersburg, Fla., in this Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, file photo.  The Seven-time NASCAR champion is retiring from full-time racing and will turn his focus toward spending time with family. He figures his future schedule will include no more than 10 bucket list events and has his sights set on the 24 Hours of Le Mans. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson, File)
Jimmie Johnson is reportedly about to become a NASCAR team owner. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson, File) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)