After missing the Monster Energy Cup Series Playoff for the first time in his career, there were whispers that Jimmie Johnson might be considering retirement. The seven-time Cup champion is 44, and watched as 39-year-old Paul Menard announced he was retiring at the end of the 2019 season.

Jimmie Johnson retiring
There have been rumors that Jimmie Johnson is considering retirement, but the 44-year-old denies he is hanging it up. (Image: Getty)

Johnson hasn’t won a race since 2017 in Dover, and his best finish this season was third at the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona in July. He also had eight other top-10 finishes.

Johnson said he won’t be retiring at the end of the year, but it has crossed his mind. He told Yahoo Sports that several things will factor into his eventual decision.

“I don’t have a timeline,” Johnson said. “I personally know that I would like every day that I can before I need to make that decision. There’s a lot of things to look at with the [2021 Cup Series car] coming, and the way our team is performing and what we are building. And, I might want to go longer than 2023. I just don’t know. And, I have not put much time and effort into it. There have been many other things to deal with and look at. These things, in the past, a contract renewal would usually start in the spring of the year the contract would end. So, based on past experience, I would say that probably spring next year is when I would really get pressure to make a decision if I was going to return in 2021.”

Still Driving to Win

Though he’s out of the playoffs, Johnson is still trying to win Cup races. His last three performances have been his best results of the season. He’s finished no worse than 11th in the four Cup playoff races, and has improved every week. Last Sunday he finished eighth at Dover.

“I felt like we had a shot,” Johnson said after Sunday’s race. “When we were in clean air, our lap times were great. Just as everyone experienced, it was really tough to pass. We had a few things that set us back and lost track position throughout the day. But we had a really fast race car. We were able to pass some, which I don’t think many could pass at all. All in all, it was a good day. We ran better than eighth for most of it, but we just couldn’t finish higher.”

Johnson is at 20/1 to win this Sunday’s 500 at Talladega. In the earlier race there, Johnson finished 33rd.

Martin Truex Favorite to Win Cup

Martin Truex Jr. is leading the Monster Energy Cup Series, so it’s no surprise that Las Vegas believes he’s going to win his second championship. The 2017 winner leads the standings by 15 points over Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch, who are tied for second.

Truex is at 7/2, while Busch is next at 4/1. The mild shock is Hamlin. The Joe Gibbs Racing teammate of both Truex and Busch is currently fourth in the odds at 6/1. He is tied with Kyle Larson, and sits just behind Kevin Harvick, who is at 9/2.

This Week’s Odds, Pick

The drivers are at the 500 at Talladega on Sunday. Joey Logano is the favorite at 8/1, followed by Brad Keselowski at 10/1.

We like Denny Hamlin at 18/1. He’s been on a hot streak lately, and this could be the week he finds the winner’s circle.