Second place racer in Winston Cup points, Jimmie Johnson's been antsy since the end of the season, biding his time for a chance to get back behind the wheel. For Johnson, he hasn't stopped waking up in the middle of the night and wondering if he's at a race track, but after the festivities in New York close, his main focus is to enjoy a little down time and prepare for making a bid for the 2004 Nextel Cup championship.
You recently bought an apartment in New York, is the anonymity what you enjoy about the city?
I don't get to spend too much time here unfortunately. It depends on my schedule and when I can get away. It's been a mini-vacation for me, I spent one of the off weekends up here, and I came up a couple of other times during the year. It's a nice break in between races.
Are you still splitting your time between New York and Charlotte?
Yeah I am still splitting my time, but mainly I am in Charlotte. It's where I need to be, at the shop and near my guys. When I get a chance and there isn't anything on my schedule then I try and sneak up to New York.
Is this a welcome respite after such a grueling season?
I love driving the car, that's my passion. I mean that is what I wanted to do my whole life. It's the other stuff that is work. The travel and the obligations -- that is the stuff that is the work. If all I ever had to do was drive a car on Sunday, I could do that year round. So I am going to enjoy the break and forget about the traveling.
If you had to chose, what is the right amount of time you'd like to have off?
For me as a driver it only takes a weekend off. I'm waking up in the middle of the night, wondering if I am at the racetrack. My mind wanders during the day and I am thinking about what racetrack we are going to next and then I realize we aren't going anywhere.
You finished second this year, do you feel like you are set to make a run at the championship in 2004?
Next year we've only got one spot to go (laughs), we're really going to put all of our efforts and set our sights on that next year.