John­son turns cam­era lenses on him­self

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS -

Jim­mie John­son, in an ad­mis­sion that he’s near the end of his driv­ing ca­reer, has opened the doors to his life to a few pro­fes­sional pho­tog­ra­phers for all-ac­cess looks at se­lect race week­ends.

He started with the 2016 fi­nale at Homestead, where pho­tog­ra­pher Liz Kreutz chron­i­cled his run to a record-ty­ing sev­enth NAS­CAR Cup cham­pi­onship, and he con­tin­ued al­low­ing pho­tos at Day­tona, Tal­ladega, Po­cono, Sonoma and In­di­anapo­lis this sea­son.

“As I’m get­ting to­ward the end of my ca­reer, it was just one of those things where I wanted to cap­ture more images,” said John­son, 41.

Some of the pho­tos have been posted on John­son’s so­cial me­dia ac­counts, “but just for my own ar­chives ... I know some day I’m go­ing to be flip­ping through all these images and just love it,” John­son said.

He plans an­other shoot at Homestead this sea­son if he makes the cut to the fi­nal four driv­ers vy­ing for the cham­pi­onship.

Ama­teurs also have shot races, and John­son will se­lect the one with the best image for a $10,000 grant.

Last sea­son at Homestead, John­son let Kreutz in his car for a few laps dur­ing which he ex­plained the car and track. John­son also has let the pho­tog­ra­phers in on team meet­ings, fam­ily time with his wife and two daugh­ters and his long bi­cy­cle rides.

Earn­hardt on Har­vick: Dale Earn­hardt Jr. said he found “hurt­ful” com­ments Kevin Har­vick made that Earn­hardt has stunted NAS­CAR’s growth be­cause he is the cir­cuit’s most pop­u­lar driver even though he hasn’t won a cham­pi­onship.

“I still re­spect him as a cham­pion and am­bas­sador for the sport,” Earn­hardt said in Detroit, where Chevro­let un­veiled its 2018 Cup car Thurs­day. “That’s just the way it is, I guess. I hate that’s how he feels.”

Har­vick, the 2014 Cup champ, spoke on his ra­dio show on Sir­iusXM, say­ing Earn­hardt has “these le­gions of fans and this huge out­reach .... but he’s won nine races in 10 years at Hen­drick Mo­tor­sports and hasn’t been able to reach out­side of that. Imag­ine how pop­u­lar he would have been if he won two or three cham­pi­onships?”

Har­vick suc­ceeded Dale Earn­hardt Sr. at Richard Chil­dress Racing after Earn­hardt was killed in a crash in 2001, and he drove an Xfin­ity Se­ries car for the fam­ily’s JR Mo­tor­sports from 2014 to 2016.

For­mer um­pire Kaiser dies: Ken Kaiser, a col­or­ful fig­ure be­tween the lines who briefly moon­lighted as a pro­fes­sional wrestler to make ends meet while work­ing in the mi­nor leagues, died at 72.

The World Um­pires As­so­ci­a­tion said Thurs­day he died in his home­town of Rochester, N.Y., on Tues­day. Kaiser had di­a­betes for years.

An Amer­i­can League um­pire from 1977-99, Kaiser um­pired two World Se­ries, one All-Star Game and sev­eral play­off se­ries.

The 6-foot-3 Kaiser weighed just un­der 300 pounds and of­ten was crit­i­cized for that portly physique dur­ing the more than 3,000 big league games he um­pired.

PAUL SAN­CYA / AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Jim­mie John­son helps un­veil a Ca­maro ZL1 that will be Chevro­let’s NAS­CAR Cup Se­ries car in 2018 dur­ing an event Thurs­day in Detroit.

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