Johnson received a lot of social media chatter after this past weekend’s race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
NASCAR analyst Bob Dillner sat down with Johnson. Here is what he had to say;
Bob Dillner: Big announcement today, you’re going to be a daddy for the second time. Before it was two for one; now, it’s one parent for every child. Are you ready for that?
Jimmie Johnson: It’s funny, when you meet someone who has more children than you, ‘Well you’re not a parent until you have two. You’re not a parent until you have three.’ I get it. It’s a game changer. One rocks your world, so I can only imagine what two is going to be like. Jeff (Gordon) has already been teasing me a little, he’s like, ‘Man, you have no idea. Two is a whole new game.’ Then I talk to others that say two is a piece of cake. We’ll see what happens.
Dillner: A lot of good comments congratulating you. But after the race on Sunday, it was a totally different story. Before we get to your reaction, how has Twitter changed our sport?
Johnson: Its gives everybody a chance to say something. The unfortunate thing is that some people get real brave behind a keyboard, or behind their phone. But at the end of the day, it is a space to have fun. That’s why I kind of countered back and I have over time, somebody says something on there, I kind of include their name in the Tweet that I send back out, and let my fans fill their timeline full of hate mail – let them see what it’s like.
Dillner: As you said, you addressed some of those ‘haters’ after the race. Your quote was, ‘You haters have it right. I’m a bad teammate. I have a cheated up car. I’m lucky and the race was fixed. Gotta love Twitter and NASCAR fans.’ To me, I was surprised because that’s not like Jimmie, from what I see on Twitter. What brought that on?
Johnson: Well, just reading the stuff over the course of the day. I had a lot of really good laughs about it, and I ignored it all for a while. And then I thought it would be fun to play into this theme that was on Twitter, that there was no way I’m good enough to win there eight times on my own. There’s no way that a good team and driver can win the race, it had to be a cheated-up car. I’m a bad teammate and all of this stuff. I was like, the heck with it, I’ll just play into it and here you go.
Dillner: Junior Nation. You never know what’s going to come out of their mouths on Twitter. Obviously, they thought you should have let (Dale Earnhardt) Jr. in. Explain that situation.
Johnson: Looking back on it now, sure, it would be easy at the time to do it. The caution comes out half way down the backstretch. I’m worried about getting the car stopped. I hear there’s a car in the wall – no number. Then a car pulls off the wall, and is now blocking the road. I pull up. I see it’s the 88. Car is tore up and there are flat tires, and he backs up. Okay, thank you. I drive on through and didn’t think anything about it. D.W. (Darrell Waltrip) was nice enough to point it out on television as well, and then, here I am with an inbox full of hate mail at the end of the race. People are going to see it however they want. At the end of the day, (Crew Chief) Steve Letarte and Dale Jr. contacted me at the end of the day because they had heard that there was some uproar over it, and they were like, ‘Dude, seriously, you did nothing wrong.’ So as long as those two are happy, I’m good.
Dillner: There are some people that don’t know you, say that Jimmie Johnson is vanilla. Jimmie Johnson is boring. So you think your calm, cool and collected demeanor is misinterpreted?
Johnson: It could be, but I mean, there was a point in time where I cared what people thought. I was worried about it. I can’t live my life that way. The people that know me, know who I am and what I am about. That’s all that really matters to me. If I live my life trying to make everybody happy, not living for myself, I would be a fool. There are some really important things to worry about, than if someone thinks I’m vanilla.
Dillner: You, (Crew Chief) Chad (Knaus), (Car Owner) Rick (Hendrick) have created this 48 dynasty. Do you think the naysayers, the people that say, ‘I hate that team.’ Do you think that’s just part of (what) all sports endure when you are successful?
Johnson: I really do. I feel like the majority is pro 48, but that the minority is loud. It’s that way in any sport. I also feel that there’s some balancing force and it’s good that it’s there. If everybody was just all for the 48, it probably wouldn’t be any fun. It wouldn’t be any good. But when I came into the sport, Jeff was on his tear. He had the same situation. I remember sitting on the couch, before I was ever back here racing, watching (Dale) Earnhardt booed time and time again. Then watched Earnhardt cheered often as his winning slowed down. Jeff’s transitioned, he probably has the loudest cheers at the track now, and people now really respect what he has done over the years and the course of his career. I think at some point that will transition for me as well. So, I don’t think I’m new to it. I think it’s there, and not just to our sport, it’s all sports.