At age 40, Johnson keeps going strong
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA 400, Dover Int. Speedway, NBC Sports Network, 2:30 p.m.
dover, del.— Jimmie Johnson was still only a prospect in NASCAR’s developmental series when he tried to work up the nerve to talk to Jeff Gordon.
Johnson wanted to introduce himself to Gordon and ask for career advice, getting a chance to pick the brain of one of racing’s greats.
What he didn’t know during that fateful August 2000 meeting was Gordon already knew him. Not only did Gordon have advice, he had a pitch — Hendrick Motorsports was going to expand to four cars and Johnson was their man.
“From that moment on, my head spun around on my shoulders,” Johnson said.
Johnson’s been turning heads on the track ever since he landed a ride with racing powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports.
He started three times in 2001 and flashed early championship potential with his first win just 10 races into 2002. With crew chief Chad Knaus calling the shots, Johnson has driven the No. 48 Chevrolet to six championships and 74 career wins, including a track-record 10 at Dover International Speedway.
As NASCAR champions Tony Stewart and Gordon ready for retirement, the 40-year-old Johnson shows no signs of following their path and calling it quits any time soon. He’ll make his 500th career start Sunday at Dover in the AAA 400 after recently signing a two-year extension with team owner Rick Hendrick.
“The racing gods have smiled on me and this team,” Johnson said.
Johnson has earned $150 million in purse money alone and sees no reason why today’s drivers will follow the lead of the ones from a generation before him and drive into their 50s.
“What I am looking for is that moment. That moment that you say, ‘All right, it’s time’. When that shows up, then I will step down.”
XFINITY SERIES: Regan Smith strengthened his championship push with a victory at Dover in the Hisense 200. Smith won for the second time this season and moved within 36 points of series leader Chris Buescher with five races left in the season.