Jimmie Johnson, Petty GMS Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)
There has been a ton of speculation surrounding Jimmie Johnson’s number for the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season. Will Petty GMS Motorsports surprise us?
Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson is set to return to the sport in 2023 after spending the last two seasons competing for Chip Ganassi Racing in IndyCar.
The longtime Hendrick Motorsports driver announced in November that he is joining Petty GMS Motorsports as both a part owner and a part-time driver for the 2023 season. Aside from his plans to compete in the season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway, his schedule hasn’t been announced.
In 686 career Cup Series starts over 20 years from 2001 to 2020, including 19 (2002 to 2020) as a full-time driver, Johnson only ever drove the No. 48 Chevrolet. But with Alex Bowman set to continue to drive the No. 48 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports in 2023, Johnson will need a new car number.
Ever since the announcement of his return, there has been speculation regarding new which car number the 47-year-old El Cajon, California native might use for his 687th career start and beyond.
Several numbers have been floated as possibilities for various reasons, with many pointing out the potential significance of each.
Most recently, the No. 49 has emerged as a possibility, with Petty GMS Motorsports president Mike Beam discussing the fact that Johnson, a seven-time champion, is now set to drive for one of the sport’s only other two seven-time champions in Richard Petty.
Seven times seven is 49, and No. 49 is also the closest available number to No. 48, with No. 47 already belonging to JTG Daugherty Racing for Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s Chevrolet entry.
The No. 49 is one of many numbers which could have some sort of significance if chosen by Johnson and Petty GMS Motorsports to be on the side of the team’s third Chevrolet entry for the upcoming season.
But as noted above, there are many numbers which could hold some sort of significance if selected.
Johnson and the team recently had some fun with the fact that so many people have tried to guess which number will ultimately end up on his Chevrolet entry in 2023.
Bottom line, you could make an argument for almost any number at this point, and that’s what fans are seemingly trying to do.
Could the fact that no announcement has been made point to a potential surprise number that many are perhaps overlooking? Could Johnson and Petty GMS Motorsports come up with some sort of significance that hasn’t been discussed?
While it’s hard to overlook Beam’s discussion of the No. 49, given his role as team president, his comments were by no mean a confirmation of Johnson’s car number for 2023. There are literally dozens of possibilities, with only around 40 numbers already taken, and none of them should be ruled out at this stage.