With one final full season ahead of him, Jimmie Johnson has one last hashtag to use, along with one new mindset to embrace.
A one-minute, 10-second video was posted on Johnson’s social media channels Wednesday. Under the caption, “I’m not chasing anything” and #OneFinalTime, Johnson explained he’d been a bit out of character the last few seasons by being focused on a statistic, which was winning an eighth championship. Since the 2016 feat of capturing his record-tying seventh, Johnson has used #Chasing8 on social media.
With the 2020 season being his final full year in the NASCAR Cup Series, the 44-year-old Johnson is focused on being in the moment and letting go of chasing.
“Honestly, just reflecting back since I made the announcement (in November), it just kind of dawned on me,” Johnson said Thursday during a media availability at the Hendrick Motorsports campus. “When I was making that video and were doing some digital and content collection for our platforms, I just started talking and told the story of where I was, and I looked around, and our whole group is there, and everybody’s like, ‘Oh my gosh, we need to drop chasing eight. I was like, ‘You’re right. Let’s drop it.’
“In self-reflection and talking about it, it just dawned on me and it felt right and the more I thought about it after, I’m like, ‘100 percent. I’ve never chased anything’ and it just felt good more than anything.”
Johnson had already used “one final time” during his announcement two months ago, something he said felt was the correct thing to say as he and wife Chandra were going over the wording. But it wasn’t until the phrase came back up a few days ago that it clicked and forced a quick shuffle of striking #Chasing8 from everything and replacing it with #OneFinalTime.
Ultimately, a hashtag doesn’t change anything as far as what Johnson and crew chief Cliff Daniels hope to do with the No. 48 Ally team. Johnson still wants to win races and win an eighth championship.
“This is about winning races, making the playoffs, and trying to be in that final four,” said Johnson.
Winning and making the postseason, which Johnson did not do for the first time in his career last year, would make for a good season. A great season would be doing those things while also advancing through the playoffs. The ultimate season is taking all of that and then being in the Championship 4.
Daniels has been at the helm of Johnson’s team since late last summer. He recently spoke with confidence of having his team prepared to send Johnson out the right way, and Johnson continues to praise the positive change in dynamic Daniels has provided.
Given the Daniels puzzle piece and Johnson’s belief that his team is headed in the right direction with performance, “really helped me identify with 2020 as probably my best chance to win a championship in the next few years.”
Johnson is just not letting the idea of the chase be all-consuming in a season that carries a much more significant meaning.
“Chasing eight and reading it or writing it or saying it is one piece, but I can identify with the fact that Chad [Knaus] and I in our final year, we were chasing that more than we were just being,” said Johnson. “Last year, with all the pressure and what was going on, of course chasing something. It just kind of all just fits together.
“My ultimate goal this year — and I think what happened through the self-awareness of the offseason — it’s just about being present. I’m going to get in that car, I’m going to give it 100 percent as I always do; who knows what the outcome is going to be. I’m going to lay it on the line and go. I’m not chasing anything; I’m just going to try and be present and just be me.”