By: Ashley McCubbin
When Daytona 500 weekend hits and the stars of the NASCAR Cup Series are battling three-wide for every position on track, Jimmie Johnson has some different plans in mind – going skiing with the family.
Following a storied career with seven championships and 83 wins, the California native retired from full-time NASCAR competition at the end of the 2019 season, electing to focus on other racing endeavors. Despite all the activities, his choice to go skiing that weekend is not because of the 500 itself.
“As far as the Daytona 500, it is not a function of trying not to watch it; I’m sure I’ll turn it on at some point and watch it,” he commented. “It’s more about living life and I’m supposed to be retired and working a lot less, and I’ve never had a busier winter, and I finally have a chance to go to the mountains with my family and be on the snow so we’re going to take it.”
While he has not been behind the wheel of a stock car, Johnson spent the off-season driving various open-wheel cars to get ready for a road course schedule with Chip Ganassi Racing, and getting seat time behind the wheel of the No. 48 Ally Racing Cadillac DPi entry ahead of the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.
“It’s really about experiences for me right now and the experience I’m having driving the IndyCar for Chip Ganassi Racing and working with all the people there, and this experience at Action Express inside and out of the car,” Johnson commented prior to the Rolex event. “It’s an experience that’s priceless and I’m one of the very few to do it. I’m proud of myself to have the courage to step outside of myself and do it, and I’m enjoying every minute.”
Despite having essentially moved on his motorsports career, he know he is not immune to the emotions of stepping away from NASCAR.
“That weekend and that day seeing all those things take place, I think it’ll really get to me then,” he revealed. “Right now, I haven’t had it present or in my face in a sense so February, it’ll be interesting to see how I feel.”
But at the same token, he is also ready for the butterflies and fun that is yet to come.
“I just know the world I’m stepping into and I know what I walked away and the comfort I had there and I’m very aware of how uncomfortable I will be in this new area, and its make me feel so uncomfortable,” he admitted. “I’m so excited for something new, and to learn these cars, and really kind of grow as a driver and have new experiences in life.”
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Categories: NASCAR Cup Series