In the Hot Seat with Jimmie Johnson

Without a doubt, Jimmie Johnson can't wait for the remaining NTT INDYCAR Series races for his 2021 schedule. (Photo: Joe Skibinski/INDYCAR)

Without a doubt, Jimmie Johnson can’t wait for the remaining NTT INDYCAR Series races for his 2021 schedule. (Photo: Joe Skibinski/INDYCAR)

Undoubtedly, Jimmie Johnson remains focused and prepared for the second half of the NTT INDYCAR Series season. Of course, the iconic seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion hoped for better results in his rookie campaign.

Still, Jimmie Johnson appreciates the challenges of INDYCAR competition in terms of his No. 48 Carvana Dallara-Honda and the tracks. Certainly, Johnson’s perspective seems as unmistakable as the livery of his Chip Ganassi Racing drive.

In general, Jimmie Johnson appreciates his latest racing challenge. (Photo: Mike Moore/The Podium Finish)

In general, Jimmie Johnson appreciates his latest racing challenge. (Photo: Mike Moore/The Podium Finish)

“My goals are still the same,” Johnson said. “I think I’ve had to recalibrate my expectations. I felt like I would be much closer than where I have been. That part I realized early on after St. Pete that this mountain was a little taller than I first anticipated.

“Since I’ve come to grips with that, I’ve really enjoyed it, and just looking forward to getting in the car more and more. Every time I get in the car, I feel more at home and more comfortable. And then trying to learn these new tracks, as challenging as that has been, it’s been a lot of fun.”

Moreover, Jimmie Johnson enjoys the change of pace and scenery as an INDYCAR racer. Indeed, Johnson checks his ego at the door and learns as quickly as possible each race weekend.

Above all else, Jimmie Johnson loved taking on the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. (Photo: Stephen Conley/The Podium Finish)

Above all else, Jimmie Johnson loved taking on the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. (Photo: Stephen Conley/The Podium Finish)

“The circuits we run on are so interesting,” Johnson observed. “Mid-Ohio, I didn’t know what to expect going into it and left there thinking, that’s probably the coolest lap that I’ve made in a race car so far in my career with just how fun the track is and how it flows. I knew it would be challenging. And I heard a lot of drivers talking about the challenge of it. But from an experience of driving, what a cool place. I still have a handful of races left to go this year and some more tracks to learn, and very excited about that.”

Similarly, Johnson takes pride with his accomplishments on the track and as a family man. All in all, the Californian and his family enjoy the new vibes and atmosphere of the INDYCAR circuit.

“Yeah, it’s been a neat experience for us all,” he said. “It is different on many levels. And of course, we know and remember our NASCAR world and the relationships, the friends, the camaraderie, the environment, the energy, like we remember that and know that. NASCAR is a very special place.

But INDYCAR is just different. And it’s special in its ways, too. It’s neat to watch my wife and children discover those differences and find things that are new and exciting and fun for them.”

Without delay, Johnson, always the competitive racer, hopes his latest chapter of his racing story inspires his daughters. Specifically, Johnson hopes his daughters learn from his experiences as an INDYCAR racer.

“At the same time, with my daughters watching me so closely and being at an age where there’s a good chance they’ll remember this chapter in their lives and my life and what Dad is trying to achieve, there’s certainly teachable moments here that I’m showing my children that, hey, hard work is a big part of anyone’s success, but there’s no guarantees that it’s going to be what you hoped for,” Johnson said.

“Of course, I hoped to be winning races in INDYCAR. And that’s kind of where I want to be. But then watching me go through this journey, watching me apply myself and work so hard and have the right mindset and apply myself, Chandy [Johnson’s wife] and I sit here and hope that our kids really pay attention to that and learn from this moment, learn from these couple of years that I have driving INDYCARs, and that makes them stronger and better in their lives.”

In the meantime, Johnson currently enjoys his summertime break with family and friends. Not to mention, Johnson, an Olympic fan, shared his thoughts about the Tokyo games.

On the whole, Jimmie Johnson appreciates the hard work put forth by Olympians. (Photo: Stephen Conley/The Podium Finish)

On the whole, Jimmie Johnson appreciates the hard work put forth by Olympians. (Photo: Stephen Conley/The Podium Finish)

“Yeah, I’ve kept an eye on it,” Johnson shared. “We were traveling back from being out in Colorado for a few weeks. So, I missed yesterday and haven’t really seen anything today. But I love the Olympics, winter or summer, to tune in and watch these athletes do their thing. The commitment to succeed at that level is so impressive, and with my love of swimming, cycling and running, I just can’t imagine at that young age that most of those athletes are to be so gifted and have a chance to represent your country and compete.”

Although auto racing has not been a part of the Olympics since 1900, Johnson offered some possible, dream routes for these annual games.

“Obviously, [as] a huge fan of the Olympics, and if I could compete in a sport, the first one that comes to mind for me is swimming,” Johnson said. “I swam in high school and love to tune in and watch the swimming portion. I know triathlon just happened for the men recently and saw a little bit of that. Swim, bike or run would be the area that I would focus on or dream of focusing on as an Olympian.”

Ultimately, while Johnson remains one of the greatest racers of this generation, he may not hold a candle to swimming legend Michael Phelps.

In a word, Jimmie Johnson enjoys dropping the hammer. (Photo: Stephen Conley/The Podium Finish)

In a word, Jimmie Johnson enjoys dropping the hammer. (Photo: Stephen Conley/The Podium Finish)

“No, not a chance,” Johnson said with a smile. “I’ve had a chance to meet him in person. And with how tall he is and that long wingspan of his arm and the gift that he has, there is no chance, unless I had a motor hooked to my feet.”

Regardless, Johnson can take heart about his strong Honda motor for the inaugural Big Machine Music City Grand Prix on the Streets of Nashville (Sunday, August 8 at 5:30 p.m. CT on NBCSN). Surely, Johnson’s optimism and experiences may serve him well in one of the most anticipated races of the year.

Rob Tiongson

Rob Tiongson is a 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 his eyes.

From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by him or by one of his talented columnists who have a passion for racing.

Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. He enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat.

Tiongson, a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, pursues his Master of Arts in Digital Communications at St. Bonaventure University. Indeed, while Tiongson is proud to be from Massachusetts, he's just as happy to be a Texan.

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