Seven-Time Champ Jimmie Johnson Feeling a Different Kind of Pressure Entering 2017by Kyle Pokrefky January 25, 2017 0 comments
CHARLOTTE — Jimmie Johnson enters the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season with his share of pressure on his shoulders, but not in the way you might think.
Securing his seventh series championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November, the driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet has the opportunity to make NASCAR history by becoming its first-ever eight-time champion in its premier series.
Reflecting on his career entering his 16th full-time season at the Cup level, Johnson states, however, that he’s not feeling much pressure when it comes to earning that eighth title.
“I’m really content with where I’m at – I’m happy where I’m at, so I guess [there’s] less pressure,” Johnson said. “Truthfully, it felt like there hasn’t been a lot of pressure on me through six and seven because I never thought I’d have one to start with.
“When we won the five in a row and then lost that sixth, there was a weight taken off of me… I have been able to expand on that more and more each year.”
The 80-time race winner feels that his primary responsibility belongs to serving as a leader at Hendrick Motorsports, the organization he’s raced for since his rookie season in 2002. With that comes a form of pressure in itself.
“I feel a larger responsibility in being a real leader at Hendrick Motorsports and being there for my teammates and team members,” Johnson stated. “I feel a stronger calling for being involved with the drivers’ council and a part of NASCAR in trying to help the sport. Absolutely, I’m showing up to win races and championships, but I’m almost feeling more pressure to handle that part correctly than I do to go out and win an eighth.
“Some of that can be with Chad Knaus winning your race team, most of the T’s are crossed and I’s are dotted and we’re in good shape.”
“I know that, I’m starting my 16th season,” Johnson continued. “I’m trying hard to not let that pressure be on me. I want a balanced life from my professional and personal lives. The pressure of a professional life can really effect your personal life. It’s there and it shows up if you want it or not, I’m just trying to manage it and have a good time through it all.”
Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images