Jimmie Johnson details the steps for the prank he pulled on Truex; Discusses riff’s in NASCAR
On NASCAR’s newest track, Jimmie Johnson and Martin Truex Jr were in a battle for the win. Until they were not. Johnson wheel hopped under braking into the final corner and the car jumped sideways. He slid backwards across the final corner and took both he and Truex out of contention for the win, just a few hundred feet short of the final.
After that race, Jimmie Johnson was advised by the crew chief of the #78, Cole Pearn to buy the crew mountain bikes to make up for the contact on The Roval at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Johnson took notes and came back with a surprise.
The following week, Johnson entered the closed garage area at Dover International Speedway with a plan. The #48 driver unloaded his Tahoe in the middle of the night and placed twelve tiny kids bicycles on the tongue of the #78 hauler.
It’s great! Personality is exactly what NASCAR needs. And you don’t see a whole lot of this kind of thing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series division.
But, as much as we all liked that prank, things still need to be cleared. Johnson could have climbed the gate and entered the closed garage area. But, this is also a very serious business. That kind of thing could have placed NASCAR is an uncomfortable position. For example, there’s a rule against doing that very thing, entering a closed garage.
To avoid any of that mess, Johnson first cleared his prank idea with NASCAR officials. Johnson explains…
“It was definitely some fun. I appreciate NASCAR for being open minded and letting me get in the garage area when it was closed. Buster Auton, I haven’t seen him laugh like that in a lot of years.,” Jimmie Johnson told Claire B Lang via Sirius XM NASCAR Radio
Buster Auton is the Senior Director of Transportation for NASCAR.
“It was just a small planned thing. My crew guys helped me come up with the idea.”
“Cole made a comment to me last week when we were leaving the track, all in good fun. I saw some of his crew guys when they came back from a bike ride on Friday. One of them grabbed my bike and said, ‘Oh hey! Is this my nice new bike that Cole was talking about?’ ”
“As I shared that story with me team, the ideas started flowing. We landed on that one. I sent my bus driver off to Walmart where they had some pre-assembled bikes.”
“Just a lot of fun, all the way around. Then, to see them passing out the bikes to kids. And to see the note that Cole hung. It’s cool to have fun at the track and not make it so serious all the time.”
“I had a great time. Especially because I didn’t have to sneak in there and do it. I didn’t know where I was going to pit them. Since I wasn’t going in the hauler or any of the pit stalls or anything, thankfully NASCAR said, ‘We’re done with this. We’ll let it happen.’ ”
This was a side of Jimmie that I don’t think most people were aware of. It just happened to come out at the perfect time. That’s by design…
Is Jimmie Johnson a pratical joker?
“I have over the years. It just needs to be the right opportunity and it doesn’t need to feel forced.”
“They were in great spirits about the bikes being placed up there.”
There’s been many on track incidents in NASCAR that have spiraled out of control. When Matt Kenseth took out Joey Logano, he noted that a big part of that paypack was in part to the way Logano handed the first incident at Kansas Speedway.
By that, I mean that Logano never gave Kenseth a call after the wreck. Logano later said that decision not to call probably came at the cost of him losing the championship that year.
Have you spoken to Martin since the Roval?
“We were immediately in conversation after the race. Then, when I landed here in Dover — Stuff always works out this way. — And here he comes now, it’s funny how these things all work out.”
Just as Jimmie was starting to explain that he bumped into Truex as the airport in Dover, he bumped into him again. Truex came walking up to the drivers meeting at the same time Jimmie Johnson was engaged in the interview outside of the meeting place. They met with a smile on the situation.
“It’s just inevitable. The guy you have a riff with in this sport, You run into them at the most awkward moments.”
“It’s all good. I think his comments were spot on yesterday. It’s not the end result any of us were after. But, it’s racing.”
Martin Truex Jr finished 15th at Dover International Speedway on Sunday. He remains in a prime playoff position.
Johnson suffered mechanical issues via a broken balljoint. That sent him to the garage for repairs. Johnson re-entered the race some 10-laps down to the leader. The problems continued as he was hit with a pit road infraction. Johnson finished 36th.
Related: 2018 Roval Race Results