He’s a former Short-course Off-road Drivers Association (SODA) rookie of the year, was classified 104th in the 2008 Truck Series points, registered a sub-3h10m finish at the Boston Marathon in 2019, and once lent his voice to an animated lobster for an episode of Bubble Guppies. And during his downtime, he has earned seven NASCAR Cup titles and 83 race wins. Welcome to the RACER.com Guest Mailbag, Jimmie Johnson.
While his achievements place him among NASCAR’s all-time greats, Johnson’s focus is very much on what lies ahead. The pandemic has stalled his farewell season as a Cup full-timer, but flirty glances towards IndyCar and other forms of racing reinforce that he’s approaching the end of a chapter, rather than the end of a career.
Thanks to everyone who sent questions in, and we’re grateful to Jimmie for taking the time to answer them.
If you missed the previous Guest Mailbags with Mario Andretti and the Haas Formula 1 team, you can catch up on those here:
Q: I love watching you race; you are my all-time favorite driver. I come to the 600 every May. The very first Roval race I was at… didn’t like it as much. What is your favorite track, and what are your thoughts about the Roval? Wish you all the best on your last year.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Hi Felicia – Thank you for your kind words! Glad to hear you are such a dedicated fan. If you come to the 600 make sure to stop at the Hendrick Motorsports campus – it’s really close to Charlotte Motor Speedway. I like Charlotte and the Roval was so much fun, but I am really partial to Dover and Martinsville. I love racing at both of them, they suit my driving style and we really have had a ton of success there.
Q: I wondered if many people remember your save during qualifying for Dover 2006? It’s when I realized you really are one of the best NASCAR drivers ever. I typed your name and “D-O-“ into YouTube, and up it came. How about a look back?
Richard Dettman in Vancouver, BC
J.J.: Thanks. It involved some luck. I kept my hands and feet busy trying to save it, and seemed to help – that was a hell of a save, and I still don’t know how I didn’t tear up that racecar. That YouTube clip makes me laugh, with Jeff Gordon giving me a “10”. I was really lucky that day.
Q: With you expressing interest in IndyCar and racing after your full-time NASCAR days are over, do you have any plans to return to the desert and run the 1000, the Mint or Parker? Dakar? We would love to see you in a Mason AWD showing the kids what seven-time can do.
J.J.: Chip – For sure, I would really like to go back to my roots and get dirty again.
Q: I’ve known about you since starting to get PR releases from your off-road days, and commented that “he’s a real racer” when you got on the roof of the car at Watkins Glen after going straight off Turn 1. What can you tell us about the Sports Car Club of America drivers’ school at Summit Point? I understand you were ’scolded’ by the stewards or instructors for driving over your head, yet setting new class records (Spec Miata?) about every session.
J.J.: John- I had a blast and really enjoyed my first laps ever on pavement at SP. I didn’t know the SCCA rules since this was my first time at one of their events, and failed the classroom portion. After two good days on track they asked me to retake the classroom portion… I passed the second time, and was told I was only the second person to ever earn my license in the first weekend. Boris Said was the first.
Q: Will we see you in the desert during NASCAR retirement? Particularly the 1000?
Eric, Ione, Ca
J.J.: Eric – Nothing is off the table at this point!
Q: Hey Jimmie, this is Gavin from Indiana. I know when we have talked we talked about the championships and stuff like that, but something I’ve always wanted to ask is what is the most meaningful thing that has ever been said to you, that you believe has changed you as a person for the better?
Thanks, Gavin Newton
J.J.: Gavin – I’m all about a positive energy exchange… I love those interactions as they feel good and make everyone smile. There are probably too many to describe.
Q: I know you like open-wheel race cars. You’ve driven a Formula 1 car and will try an IndyCar, but how do you feel about Formula E, and would you consider driving one?
Greetings from Germany!
J.J.: Miran – I’m wide open to anything that’s safe and fun.
Q: First, I have to say what an honor it is to be one of your dedicated fans, and to say thank-you for so many special memories. Now to my question. You have had a lot of awesome teammates. What teammate has angered you most in a race, what did they do, and how long did it take you to let it go?
Sincerely, Rita Hudson
J.J.: Rita – Jeff Gordon and I were so competitive with each other as time went on. We did push each other to be better, but that did come with some heated moments. Being teammates sometimes complicates things, but it’s business and you leave it on the track. Thankfully we both respect each other so much, everything was always OK.