JIMMIE JOHNSON, DRIVER OF THE NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and discussed Casey Mears and Hendrick Motorsports parting ways and more. During the regular weekly top 12 press conference with...
JIMMIE JOHNSON, DRIVER OF THE NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and discussed Casey Mears and Hendrick Motorsports parting ways and more.
During the regular weekly top 12 press conference with Jimmie Johnson, he and his wife Chandra Johnson made an announcement regarding the Second-Annual Jimmie Johnson Foundation Golf Tournament.
ON THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE SECOND-ANNUAL JIMMIE JOHNSON FOUNDATION GOLF TOURNAMENT AND DINNER AUCTION. "Our golf tournament last year was a huge success, this year we're excited to do it once again. Lowe's has been gracious enough to be our primary sponsor once again and to also give us the signage on the race car in the Nationwide Series and in the Cup Series. We're just really pleased and happy and thankful for all the support that Lowe's gives us on that."
"We had a great turnout of drivers last year and expecting the same again this year. Also because of the success we had last year, we've decided to continue our relationship with Habitat for Humanity (San Diego). We built two homes through last year's golf tournament and fundraising that took place so I'm pleased to announce we're going to have two more homes going into the same area and this plot of land that we purchased and put together."
ON THE HELMET OF HOPE. "There's so many great charities and Chani (wife, Chandra) and I have a hard time really deciding where and what we support and who we support. At the same time, we feel this is a great opportunity for the fans and for the media to bring some recognition to charities that are important to you. In the past I've worn a helmet and we auctioned it off. We're going to do that again with this helmet, but we thought it would be a good idea for six fans and for six media members if they would fill out the charity that's important to them, each week we'll have a bucket that we put these names into and pull the charity out and then that charity will go on the helmet. We'll clear coat over the helmet once everything is done. I'll wear this helmet in the race and then we'll auction it off at our golf tournament."
"We just thought it would be a great way to keep everybody involved and also to bring recognition to a lot of these charities that are important to the race fans to the media."
HOW DID YOU GUYS DETERMINE YOU WANTED TO BE INVOLVED WITH HABITAT FOR HUMANITY? "For us, Chani and I we want to give back to the community we live in. To have a starting point, we need to start somewhere and we decided to give back in the Charlotte area where we live and the areas where we grew up. We hopefully will have some stuff to announce before long in the area where Chani grew up in Oklahoma. As of now, the first goal has been to get San Diego up and going in the El Cajon area where I grew up. Growing up out there with all the wild fires and all the devastation that would take place over the years, it just seemed like building a home would be the right thing to do. Habitat is a fantastic organization. I've actually been on home builds before this relationship started and just felt like it was the right thing to do and would really make an impact in the El Cajon area where I grew up."
YOU'RE BLESSED WITH A BEAUTIFUL WIFE AND YOU'VE WON THE DAYTONA 500 AND CHAMPIONSHIPS, WHAT KIND OF FEELING IS IT THOUGH TO PUT A FAMILY IN A HOME? "That excitement is building and we'll experience that for the first time here before long. To watch it come through each stage has just been extremely rewarding but at the same time we haven't been able to see a smile on a family's face and hand those keys over yet so I can only anticipate what that's going to be like. It just feels so good to give back and give to the great cause and the people that are extremely deserving and we're really excited about it and look forward to August and when we can over the first set of keys."
WITH ALL THE MANY CHARITIES OUT THERE, DO YOU GET A LOT OF PEOPLE CONTACTING YOU AND HOW DO YOU WHO YOU ARE GOING TO SUPPORT? "It's one of the hardest things that we do is to sift through the requests and the great charities that exist. It's kind of led us into the idea with the helmet. We have our causes that are important to us and that we are supporting right now. We have a mission statement that is extremely broad and we've given to families, we've given to children, we've given to communities in need. We try to give wherever we can but there's just not enough time or money that we can raise to pass out to all the great organizations. So we thought the helmet idea would help and would bring more and also bring new charities in that we're not aware of. In the charity world a big part of it is just bringing in recognition to charities that are out there. There's a lot that you can do just by spreading the word. You don't have to give hard cash, you don't have to support it in ways that you think you would just to help it out. We're hopeful that the helmet can be that vehicle and help bring more awareness to other charities."
WHEN YOU STARTED THE JIMMIE JOHNSON FOUNDATION, WHAT WAS YOUR INITIAL THOUGHT ON HOW IT WOULD GO AND DID YOU EVER IMAGINE IT WOULD GET THIS BIG? "No not a clue. In fact, we really didn't know what to expect. I had been supporting a lot of charities, spending time helping raise money, going to fund raisers and Kyle and Pattie Petty pulled Chani and I aside and said hey look if you want to do more you can and if you start a foundation and show your fans and your sponsors what's important to you, you'll be surprised how much support you'll have and how much more you can do if you want to do it. So we sat down in front of our bus in Daytona two or three years ago I guess it was and took their advice. We went back and spoke about it ourselves and off we went. Chani really pushed me forward. I needed to have it all structured and put together before we got going and she was like no let's go. Let's just get started, we're doing good, we'll find our direction and we sure did and we've done a lot in a short period of time. It's hard to really have a direction because there's so much good out there that you can do and as new relationship build and sponsorships build it kind of takes us in different directions and we're just trying to do all that we can with every relationship and it's been going well."
HOW GOOD OF A CARPENTER ARE YOU? "I did work some summer jobs. Luckily that didn't work out and racing did. I can probably smash my thumb and you know the commercial they make me look like a hero on national television but that's not the case."
YOUR REACTION TODAY TO THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF CASEY MEARS LEAVING HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS. "I feel really bad for Casey and for the No. 5 team. There has not been a lack of effort or commitment to get that working right. A situation has developed to where Casey is going to move on. It hurts me as a friend and teammate that this is taking place. I know it's done the same to the company and to Rick (Hendrick) but it's kind of the way it is and the release has been out and the decision has been made. At this point I wish Casey the best. I'm doing anything and everything I can to help he and his team out to finish this year off on a positive note. They had a great run in Sonoma last weekend and I hope he goes on a terror and wins five races and is the hottest driver out there and has everybody chasing him down for his services."
WHERE DO YOU THINK YOUR TEAM IS STILL BEHIND THE CURVE WITH THE NEW CAR? "Any of the 1.5-mile stuff. Last year because we were focused on the championship there's that Atlanta test, we stayed home. I think the last few months of '07 and through the off-season of '08 we just didn't get on the right fence. We were working very hard. To be honest with you I'm amazed that after winning the championship we did, the hours that Chad (Knaus) spent in the office trying to get stuff right and our engineers and everybody was still working, but we just weren't working in the right areas like we had been in the past."
SO I GUESS YOU AND CASEY TALKED WEEKS AGO ABOUT THIS, DID HE COME AND SAY SOMETHING TO YOU OR DID YOU KNOW ABOUT IT AND COME TO HIM? "The performance has been tough and I know there's been a lot of frustration between the teams and everything that's been going on. So I kind of sensed it and when Casey mentioned it to me a while back my heart went out to him. The guy is one of my closest friends and I felt terrible for him. They've all been working hard but they've had some bad luck and crazy things going on. I know Casey and that team are much better than where they are running right now. Now that this pressure is off I'm hopeful that everything hits right and they start running good. I'd like to see them win a race or two before the season is over and really show what he's capable of and what that No. 5 team is capable of."
EVEN THOUGH HENDRICK IS FAIR, DO YOU THINK CASEY GOING TO A TEAM WHERE HE'S THE LEADER THAT HE MIGHT HAVE MORE OF A CHANCE VERSES BEING ON A TEAM WITH A (JEFF) GORDON, JOHNSON AND AN EARNHARDT? "Maybe. The thing with Casey what makes him such a good teammate is he doesn't have to be the No. 1 guy. His heart is as competitive as anyone. He wants the success and wants to win but the guy can adapt to any situation, any teammate and really fit in well and pull in the same direction. He's a great, great teammate so I don't think it would hurt him being a top guy at another team but I really wished it could have worked with us at Hendrick because he's everything that you would want in a teammate. He's loyal, dedicated, bites his tongue when he probably shouldn't or doesn't need to. He just really is focused on the overall performance of the team instead of himself. He's a special guy for that."
-credit: gm racing