By JENNA FRYER
AP Auto Racing Writer
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson has twice tested negative for the coronavirus and has been cleared to race Sunday at Kentucky Speedway.
Johnson missed the first race of his Cup career when he tested positive last Friday. He was tested after his wife received a positive result.
Hendrick Motorsports said Johnson tested negative on Monday and Tuesday and will return to the No. 48 Chevrolet. Johnson’s streak of 663 consecutive starts — most among active drivers — was snapped when he didn’t race Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
He was the first NASCAR driver to test positive for the coronavirus since the series resumed racing on May 17. Johnson is scheduled to retire from full-time NASCAR competition at the end of this season.
“My family is so grateful for the incredible love and support we’ve received over the last several days,” he said.
Johnson never experienced any symptoms; his wife, Chani, was tested after suffering from what she thought was routine seasonal allergies.
Hendrick Motorsports had four crew members tested for COVID-19 after Johnson’s diagnosis and all four received negative results. The No. 48 team will have its regular personnel roster for Sunday’s race.
Missing the Brickyard 400 dropped Johnson to 15th in the driver standings, 46 points above the cutoff for playoffs.
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