Jimmie Johnson doesn’t have the desire to compete full-time in racing anymore, but he’s still not ready to give competition up completely.

Johnson, 48, will run nine NASCAR Cup Series races this season for Legacy Motor Club, the team he co-owns. But the organization is also entering Extreme E and Johnson, a former off-road racer, is splitting driving duties with Gray Leadbetter.

The NASCAR Hall of Famer retired from full-time stock cars in 2020 and then spent 2021 and 2022 in the NTT IndyCar Series while running select sports car events.

“There are aspects of it – the grind of it – certainly wears on me, and I know that is why I didn’t extend to run IndyCar and sports car last year,” Johnson said ahead of this weekend’s Daytona 500. “I had an opportunity to do so, but the commitment it takes to run a full-time season in any championship, I just knew I didn’t have that amount in me to run 17 IndyCar races and a handful of sports car races. But the desire to drive and race and compete and to have the nerves in my stomach or butterflies, the focus that racing requires, I truly long for it.”

Johnson wanted to put together a nine or 10 race schedule for this season and landed at nine given the resources available and sponsorship. A two-time Daytona 500 champion, Johnson begins his campaign looking to earn a spot in the field. It is the third time in his career that he has had to qualify for the race because he didn’t have a guaranteed starting spot (2002; 2023; 2024).

“I think we all know being on the road, there are certainly parts of the job that you wish just weren’t there, but to truly do the job, I love it,” Johnson continued. “I’ve chased it my whole life and it’s hard … to kind of put it in the context of a musician or something, it’s like asking a guitarist or someone to put down their guitar at 48 or 45. Or you look at even stick and ball pro sports, late 30s is when most of them have to hang up the cleats.

“When you spend your lifetime doing your passion for a job, and then you have to put it away, it just doesn’t seem realistic to me. So that’s the thing I keep chasing.”

Having Johnson in NASCAR won’t be unfamiliar, but the partner support Johnson is doing it with will be. For the first time in his Cup Series career, Johnson is driving something other than a Chevrolet as Toyota has become the manufacturer partner of Legacy Motor Club.

David Wilson, the president of TRD, humorously said in January, “… we have Jimmie Johnson running a Toyota Camry. Can you believe that? Fans are going to go mental.”

Wednesday night, Johnson rolls off pit road in his No. 84 Toyota Camry for the first time. What does he expect the reception to be this season to that sight?

With a laugh, Johnson said, “Everybody has been so kind on Twitter that I’m just going to have a standing ovation out there.”