Teammate Elliott wins his first championship
By Nick Lewis
In his final race of his full-time Cup Series career, Jimmie Johnson finished fifth in the Season Finale 500 at Phoenix Raceway.
Johnson, who wasn’t part of the Championship 4, was the first car to finish behind the four championship contenders. Johnson even said his daughter considered his finish a win because he was the first to finish behind the championship contenders.
Johnson said he didn’t have a lot riding on his performance today but said that finishing in the Top-5 was a nice way to end his career.
At the conclusion of the race the seven time champion saw his Hendrick teammate Chase Elliott win his first Cup series championship at the age of 24 years old.
Johnson was able to share the special moment with Elliott as Johnson embraced Elliott at the end of the race and was joined by Rick Hendrick. According to Johnson, winning a championship does a lot for a driver.
“ It really does change your confidence as a driver, as the leader of a race team,” said Johnson. “You know, it positions you just different in the fan space. There’s a bunch of credibility that comes with that.”
Elliott said that he had multiple conversations with Johnson about the championship weekend. He said that Johnson was a big help and a text that he received from Johnson was the last thing that Elliott had seen before he climbed in the racecar.
Elliott said Johnson was one of his heroes growing up and over the years, the two have shared a lot of cool moments on the race track.
For Johnson he wasn’t overcome with emotions today because he said he was most emotional at this time last year when he finally decided it was time to hang up the helmet from full-time driving. He said that today he was excited and full of pride and his smile today was all of those emotions from over the past year and pride put together.
“My bucket is full, NASCAR has been so wonderful to me,” said Johnson. “This journey is more than I could’ve ever dreamed of, or expected or hoped for.
“The last couple years on track isn’t what I dreamed up but I’ve experienced the highest of highs and worked with the greatest people, been with one team this entire journey. I’m thankful for all those people who have helped me get here.”
Johnson who is not done with racing completely will race 13 races in the NTT Data IndyCar Series for Chip Ganassi Racing said that he has already started getting acclimated to the Indy cars with testing this past week and having an upcoming test this upcoming week.
As the Indy car season gets closer Johnson said that he will begin to become more integrated with Chip Ganassi Racing as the season draws closer to March. Johnson will be competing in the road course portion of the IndyCar Series during the 2021 season.