NASCAR gives Jimmie Johnson a retirement sendoff befitting his legacy before final race

One of the quietest “Greatest Of All Time” contenders in any sport received a loud, meaningful tribute from the circuit he’s owned for most of his career.

Jimmie Johnson is retiring from NASCAR after Sunday’s Cup Series championship race at Phoenix Raceway. He walks away with seven titles, five of which came consecutively.

The weight of his legacy, never expressed through personal gloating, was acknowledged in strong terms ahead of the green flag on Sunday.

He received a standing ovation from the fans in attendance and hugs all the way down pit road. He also received a personal message from Rick Hendrick.

Johnson issued brief a statement of his own on Twitter before the race. He showed appreciation for being able to leave NASCAR on his own terms.

“It’s been an incredible journey, and one that I could’ve never dreamed of,” Johnson wrote. “I get to go out on my terms, with the support of my family and friends and for that, I am grateful and fulfilled.”

He also shared a picture of his last team meeting.

Johnson has not raced to his peak standards over the past four seasons. He hasn’t won a race since 2017 and continues to trend in the wrong direction, though he’s been competitive in several 2020 outings.

So, his decision to retire comes as a self-aware acknowledgement of the right time to step away. His legacy remains impeccable, and as Sunday affirmed, he’ll be talked about as one of the sport’s most influential figures for a long time.

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