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Dale Jr. Admits That A Jump To Cup Almost Happened With Jimmie Johnson

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Cody Williams

Cody Williams is the author of BUNNY BOY and THE FIFTH LINE. He lives near Bristol, TN.
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"Let's do it together": Dale Jr. Admits that a ownership collaboration with 7-time champ, Jimmie Johnson, almost happened

What’s Happening?

The guest for this Tuesday’s edition of the Dale Jr. Download was none other than former NASCAR owner and current INDYCAR owner, Chip Ganassi. He and show host, Dale Earnhardt Jr. talked about many things including team ownership (and how involved Teresa Earnhardt was with the rebranded Earnhardt Ganassi Racing) and the sale of Chip Ganassi Racing to Justin Marks – who went on to form Trackhouse Racing. But perhaps the part of the discussion the caught the ears of most listeners was this little nugget:

Me and Jimmie were on the Zoom calls nearly close to teaming up before he chose to go with Legacy Motor Club. I was like “Let’s do it together”. We were going to call it JR Johnson Motorsports. Just kidding!

You Need To Know:

  • Pretty much since the formation of JR Motorsports, there have been rumors of the team making a jump to the Cup Series. Following Junior’s retirement from full-time racing in 2017, the talk started to get serious. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (and Kelly Earnhardt-Miller, for that matter) has been very vocal about wanting to go Cup racing on the Dale Jr. Download. In a world where timing is everything, the timing was just never quite right.
  • Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. have been friends for many years. They were teammates from 2008 through to Jr.’s retirement in 2017 and Jimmie had even raced a handful of times for his Xfinity Series program, JR Motorsports. The fact that they were in talks to collaborate in ownership of a NASCAR Cup Series team is interesting but not that surprising. After struggling in INDYCAR for two years, Jimmie Johnson wanted to get back to what he knew and what he knew was NASCAR. He likely reached out in several directions (JR Motorsports being one) as he expressed interest in becoming a team owner. We know now that the LEGACY Motor Club won that lottery.
  • Many fans were shocked to learn that Jimmie Johnson was going to be a Cup Series owner. With the LEGACY Motor Club struggling early on in the 2023 season, this little nugget of news leaves fans to wonder what could have been.

The Main Characters

Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s first attempt at Cup team ownership was during contract negotiations in 2007. He wanted Teresa Earnhardt to give him 51% of DEI, stating that he would stay with the team if she had. Needless to say, that didn’t happen.

Junior left for Hendrick Motorsports the next year and took his still young and relatively unproven JR Motorsports with him. That turned out to be a winning combo. Throughout the years, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has made numerous attempts to get into the Cup Series. It was just never the right time.

Jimmie Johnson, on the other hand, thought that 2023 was the perfectly right time to go Cup racing. The 7-time champion future hall of famer and now team owner struck up a deal with Petty GMS and bought in, forming the LEGACY Motor Club.

In The Stands

DuperMarioBrother64 laments about the possibility of having a Junior Johnson Motorsports.

But Mkelly22 has a better name in mind for the shoulda, woulda, coulda team.

dman6233 thinks Jr. is still just searching for that special someone.

This would be epic…but why not Berry in a No. 88 car? Nobody’s using it in Cup anymore…

Ultrase7en wouldn’t be fazed if Jr. bought a chunk into LMC.

According to this fan, LMC and JRM share a merchandise hauler. Could this mean that there’s a little more to this story…?

matito29 slaps that dream down, pointing out the probable fact that it’s just because they’re both Chevy teams.

psychoknight points out that JRM has been working with Jimmie Johnson since at least 2016…

Hmm…is Jr.’s “will he, won’t he” relationship with the NASCAR Cup Series starting to wear a little thin?

No-Efficiency1918 calls for NASCAR to create two more charters to make this happen.

NYPD Blue wants Jr. to be sole owner of a JRM cup team…but he isn’t even sole owner of the team in the Xfinity Series now…

It would have been really cool if this had come to fruition. It certainly would have save Jr. and Kelly some money when they actually do make the jump up to cup. What do you think? Should the Junior/Johnson collabo have worked out? Let us know your thoughts!

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Picture of Cody Williams

Cody Williams

Cody Williams is the author of BUNNY BOY and THE FIFTH LINE. He lives near Bristol, TN.
All Posts