Fontana II: Jimmie Johnson preview

It's going to be a busy week for Lowe's Monte Carlo driver Jimmie Johnson as he returns to California for Sunday's race at California Speedway in Fontana. The El Cajon native plans to visit his high school as well as hold the Jimmie Johnson ...

It's going to be a busy week for Lowe's Monte Carlo driver Jimmie Johnson as he returns to California for Sunday's race at California Speedway in Fontana. The El Cajon native plans to visit his high school as well as hold the Jimmie Johnson Foundation's first charity auction and golf tournament in the San Diego area this week. Johnson will drive in Saturday's Busch Series race with his car painted in a Kobalt Tools paint scheme. On Sunday the Nextel Cup car will carry a Habitat for Humanity/Jimmie Johnson Foundation scheme.

Johnson is sixth in points but, according to NASCAR, needs only to start the California and Richmond races to clinch a spot in his fourth consecutive "Chase for the Championship." Under the new scoring system that equalizes the points for all 12 "Chase" drivers then adds ten points for each victory, Johnson would start the "Chase" tied for first with teammate Jeff Gordon -- both drivers own four victories.

JIMMIE JOHNSON:

ON GOING BACK TO HIS HIGH SCHOOL FOR THE FIRST TIME: "I'm actually embarrassed to go back to the school, in a weird way. I remember being a kid being in school and somebody would come to class and we were only excited because it got us out of school and were like 'Alright, we got to listen to somebody talk.' I am excited to go back. I am nervous, I don't know why. I'm just going back to (my) hometown and back to the school. It's hard to explain. Maybe I'm afraid they're going to post my grades for everybody to see or my detention slips. It's going to be fun and I'm happy to see that the school is excited to have me back and from what I understand the students are excited and they're going to do some real nice stuff out there. (I'll) just go back and check it out. I don't know what to expect and I assume it's going to be a little overwhelming but fun at the same time. What's weird too is a lot of the people that I went to school with are now teachers and stuff inside the school so it'll be nice to see a lot of people I haven't seen in a long time."

WITH THIS BEING YOUR FOURTH TIME IN THE CHASE AND STARTING ON TOP, IS IT EASIER THIS TIME? "The new format this year definitely is a little more forgiving for me the way I'm positioned right now but looking at the Chase I think that our team is more confident in what we've been able to accomplish and the fact that we've won a championship that we're in a much better place between the years than we've ever been. We're just more relaxed, more confident and more secure with where we're at and really looking forward to the Chase where last year at this point we had that tension inside of us where we were excited to get the Chase going and we've been close and are we going to win a championship. To have the championship behind us and know that we can do it, know that we have the skills and the team and all that good stuff, I'm really excited for it, excited in a way that I haven't been before going into a championship battle."

THE JIMMIE JOHNSON FOUNDATION: "It has been very rewarding. I heard about dealings that come with having a Foundation, how you are able to give back and how much fan support and the community we would receive as well as our sponsors. But until you live it first hand and you really see how that side of a company, that side of fans where they want to give back and help people, it just hits you in a different way. It is really rewarding and the Foundation does take a lot of work, people want to see that it is important to my wife and I, and that we are really there working on it and leading the charge for it. So, I probably spend more time on the Foundation, thinking about and organizing, Chani does too, than most other things. It is time consuming but so rewarding at the same time."

ON WHAT HAS TOUCHED HIM THE MOST: "To see the spirit, especially in the Make a Wish Foundation, of these kids that are granted a wish. That have been through all the things they have been through, the outlook they have, the perspective they have--you get so caught up in material things -- and when you see someone is struggling and going through hard times, they go back to the basics and simple things and find satisfaction and happiness through all that - that teaches me a lesson. It really is wild to see a five or six year old child that is going through chemo with a smile on their face. They tell you they are a race fan, telling you that you are making their day, whatever it may be, and to see their fresh perspective on life, their different perspective on life, that is really cool. I am not sure it really pertains to just race car driving, more as a person, it hits you hard inside -- like, yes, I am consumed with competition and success and with that comes other great thing s in life--and you start using those as benchmarks for happiness. When you see someone that doesn't have those things and if fighting for their life, the fact that they are smiling and they are happy, it just re-racks your brain and thoughts. It is the simple things like that; it is not always the other things."

-credit: hm

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Jimmie Johnson