Jimmie Johnson still has same intensity, but not for rocking chairs

Photo by Harold Hinson/Harold Hinson Photography

By Tim Packman, Contributing Writer

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Last year, the seven-time NASCAR Cup Series Champion, Jimmie Johnson, announced 2020 would be his swan song in the sport.

But, don’t expect him to slow down the same intensity he’s shown the last 18 years behind the wheel.  All the championships, five of them consecutively, 83 career wins and two Daytona 500 victories haven’t dampened his level of excitement for this week.

“We had a really fast car in practice on Saturday,” Johnson said. “The story I wanted to see out there is that I finally qualified for my first Daytona 500 pole.

“Marquis events are just so special. For my final year, winning a marquis event like the 500 would blow my mind. It would be just so special to end the drought with a win on Sunday and make for a lot storylines.

“With this being my last year, I’m a little more aware of the moment and the emotions. The emotion is one of excitement and optimism. Honestly, I just have a lot of excitement for this year.

“I feel it’s a year we can win races and compete for a championship. To do that in my 19th and final year would be a real blessing.”

The drought Johnson refers to is the fact he hasn’t won a race since June 4, 2017, at Dover International Speedway.  

Traditionally, retiring drivers receive a multitude of gifts from tracks and organizations during their final season. They have ranged from plaques to items native of that area and rocking chairs.

Johnson has seen them all through his 18-year Cup career. When asked, he said there are two things he hopes not to receive as retirement gifts.  

“Yeah, I’d say it’s a tie between a rocking chair, and the ponies Eddie Gossage gave Jeff Gordon,” Johnson said with a laugh. “It’s probably a good tie between those two.”

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