Jimmie Johnson Not Backing Down in 2019

Notably, Jimmie Johnson won't back down in 2019. (Photo Credit: Stephen Conley/TPF)

Notably, Jimmie Johnson won’t back down in 2019. (Photo Credit: Stephen Conley/TPF)

By all means, Jimmie Johnson races consistently as a mild mannered, competitive racer.  Instead of providing soundbites that make up the daily NASCAR shows, the 43-year-old lets his racing speak volumes for his efforts.

However, when push comes to shove, the El Cajon, Calif. native won’t back down.  Indeed, the seven-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion tries to resolve high stakes situations by dialogue versus fisticuffs.

Prior to qualifying for Sunday’s Consumers Energy 400 at Michigan, Johnson said, “We just talked. I didn’t fight. There wasn’t a punch thrown. Middle fingers are a universal sign of many things.”

Of course, the heat of the moment can make the most composed individual into an emotional competitor.  For one thing, Johnson observed how a driver like himself falls into this category.  After all, he was once the young racer who learned from some of NASCAR’s legendary figures.

By and large, Johnson prefers settling on track issues promptly and diplomatically. (Photo Credit: Matteo Marcheschi/TPF)

By and large, Johnson prefers settling on track issues promptly and diplomatically. (Photo Credit: Matteo Marcheschi/TPF)

“We all go through it,” he pointed out.  “No one’s immune to it. Sterling Marlin comes to mind. He got on the radio one day and said he was going to take me to the woodshed. So, I didn’t find out what that meant. I remember Mark Martin sitting me down and really going about it in a great way. Jeff Gordon is a mentor along the way. He’s been really helpful. But everybody has their own way that they see it and go about it.

I can say one thing that was very impactful for me was in Martinsville in ’03 or ’04. Jeff Burton and I got into it on the track and he knew he was at fault.  He walked past all my crew guys in the transporter and found me when I was changing and said it was on him and that it was fault.

And I looked at him like, ‘You’re crazy. Thank you for doing that.’ It completely changed my mindset on how I was going to react because he was man enough to walk past my guys to walk in the truck and have a conversation. So, I chose, at that point and time, right, wrong, or indifferent, that I’m going to talk to people.”

That said, Johnson’s diplomatic approach doesn’t always result in success.  At the same time, he stands by this communication method versus a Sunday throwdown.

“I tried to talk to Harvick that one time (2015 at Chicagoland) and he came out of the bus, ready to fight,” Johnson said. “I knew I was walking into a hornet’s nest.  But, that’s the way I wanted to handle things and the way someone handled it with me.”

Chiefly, Johnson understands his evolution as a driver from his early years to a respected, veteran presence on and off-the-track. Although the on-track product may differ from Johnson’s initial foray into the premier division, he observed some parallels while understanding the high pressure consequences.

No matter the place or venue, Johnson notes similarities between racing back in 2002-'03 to today's on track product. (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

No matter the place or venue, Johnson notes similarities between racing back in 2002-’03 to today’s on track product. (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

“There’s similarities for sure,” he said.  “There’s some unique variables in today’s world that could spread that process out with stage racing being one of them. The rules package, we’re blocking instead of just at Talladega and Daytona, we’re blocking everywhere now.

There’s a few things in there that are speeding it up, but absolutely. That’s why I really try hard to not get wound up with young guys. It’s either hard racing, you got used up, or man, there’s probably four or fives weeks there that you could put into other categories. It’s just racing.”

Along the same lines, most of the talk with Johnson surrounds last Sunday’s race at Watkins Glen.  Following a tangle with Ryan Blaney just after the Bus Stop, the usually cool headed racer, while upset, wanted to resolve this conflict swiftly.  Per a report from RacinBoys.com, this conflict was resolved on Saturday.

“I don’t know,” Johnson said. “It could’ve well been. I’m left now with just…there hasn’t been any dialogue, so it’s just all speculation and probably spinning out of control. I assume I’ll see him at some point. I mean, our buses are right next to each other for God’s sakes. Our motorhomes are door-to-door over there, so I’m sure at one point, we’ll see each other.”

Above all, Johnson wants nothing more than another NASCAR Playoffs seed.  Tied for the 16th and final coveted spot for postseason glory, the driver of the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet realizes time is running out.

"We have to be in the Playoffs." (Photo Credit: Matteo Marcheschi/TPF)

“We have to be in the Playoffs.” (Photo Credit: Matteo Marcheschi/TPF)

“It is top of the line,” Johnson remarked.  “That’s all we’re here for. We have fives races left. We absolutely should be in the Playoffs. There’s no excuses for the 48 car. We have to be in the Playoffs.”

While Johnson owns a victory at Michigan (June 2014) and possesses five top-fives and 13 top-10’s in 35 starts at this two-mile superspeedway, he can’t wait for Saturday night action at Bristol.

“I’m looking forward to it,” he said.  “I mean, we’ve been a really consistent top-five car for many trips now. We’ve won a couple of times and we look forward to our opportunity to win there or just to have a solid night.”

Rob Tiongson

30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field, and hockey. A Boston native turned Austinite, racing was the first sport that caught my eye. From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by me or by one of my talented columnists who absolutely have a passion for racing.

Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. I enjoy editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography.

Graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. Proud to be from Massachusetts, just as happy to be a Texan.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *