Updated November 5, 2022 - 1:53 pm
When Jimmie Johnson recently retired from a post-prime career as an IndyCar driver, he left the door open for a return to NASCAR.
On Friday, Las Vegas businessman Maury Gallagher helped him walk through it.
“Pinching myself, sitting up here with this kind of talent and this kind of record,” Gallagher said during a news conference in Phoenix announcing the seven-time Cup Series champion would be joining Gallagher’s racing team, Petty GMS, as a part-time driver and investor.
Added Richard Petty, who also won seven NASCAR championships: “I’m 85 years old, so I’m not going to be here for another 15 or 20 years. Then Jimmie can take over.”
Johnson’s first drive with the team will be the 2023 season-opening Daytona 500, where he will partner with young drivers Erik Jones and new addition Noah Gragson of Las Vegas.
Jones, 26, broke through for a victory in this season’s playoff race at Darlington. Gragson, 24, will be moving up to Cup full time after driving in 18 races in 2022.
Gallagher said in addition to Johnson competing for victories himself — he is expected to drive in as many as seven races in 2023 with sponsors and car number to be determined — he’ll also help Jones and Gragson achieve them as a de facto coach.
“On a personal note, if you would have told me that when I started (in professional racing) in 2010 that I would be sitting here today — no, that would have been a bridge too far, probably,” said Gallagher, who spoke ahead of Johnson and Petty at the news conference leading up to Sunday’s NASCAR championship race.
Johnson, 47, said the deal came together faster than he was on the track.
“I must say I did not see this in my future,” said the quiet veteran, who won 83 Cup Series races, including an unprecedented four in the Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. “But an opportunity has developed that makes sense in so many ways, so many different reasons, and I’m honored and very excited to be a part of it.”
Jimmie Johnson describes how talks began with him and Petty GMS Racing and talks about the factors that will determine the select races he will enter: pic.twitter.com/YwGdlyWhWd
— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) November 4, 2022
Around the horn
—- IndyCar team owner Sam Schmidt of Henderson will be joined by his drivers Pato O’Ward and 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi at the Conquer Paralysis Now/Arrow Electronics Drive to Thrive fundraiser at SpeedVegas at 6 p.m. Sunday.
Participants will be offered the chance to drive the road course in a high-powered sports car or ride along with the IndyCar stars. Food and beverage will be served. Attendees also will be able to bid on racing items during a silent auction.
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.conquerparalysisnow.org.
Sam Schmidt continues to inspire us to overcome our obstacles and face our fears as he faced his fear of skydiving and broadcasted it for the world to see on the@TODAYshow! @conquernow @BraunAbility
— NMEDA (@NMEDAcom) January 6, 2021
—- The theme song of England’s Liverpool soccer club is “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” It’s a sentiment that has been adopted by the Las Vegas chapter of its worldwide fan base, which has made a donation of $10,000 to end youth homelessness in Southern Nevada.
“They’ve collected monetary donations and clothing, raised awareness and even gotten us donations of special, needed items like a grill and washer-dryer,” Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth director Arash Ghafoori said in a statement.
The local group of more than 50 supporters raised the funds during giveaways at McMullan’s Irish Pub during televised Liverpool matches.
Watched the match at Mcmullans Pub – home of the official Las Vegas Liverpool Supporters!
Some dedication from these guys, they were watching The Reds against Watford at 4.30am on Saturday! #lasvegas #TheReds #lfc #scousersallovertheworld pic.twitter.com/HvAgqCNaJt
— Sarah (@sarahw_lfc) April 5, 2022
— Mike Maddux, the former Rancho High standout who pitched for 10 major league teams and spent the past 20 seasons as a big league pitching coach, recently announced he’ll be stepping down from the latter role with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Although Maddux still might be better known as the big brother of Hall of Fame pitcher Greg Maddux, he also carved his own niche as one of the game’s most respected pitching instructors.
There remains a possibility that Maddux will stay with the #stlcards in another, perhaps advisory role. He expressed to Mozeliak a wish to have a reduced schedule, less daily grind, and Cardinals would like to talk to him about what that would look like. https://t.co/bxmmVgaEHP
— Derrick Goold (@dgoold) October 26, 2022
The sportsbook at the Hard Rock casino in Cincinnati will open on New Year’s Day. The first bet will be made by Pete Rose.
In other words, this is a perfect world in which we live.
The sportsbook at Hard Rock Casino Cincinnati will open January 1, 2023.
The first bet will be made by Pete Rose 😅 pic.twitter.com/X7scfMJdA2
— Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) November 1, 2022