The Daytona 500, also known as the Great American Race, is less than two weeks away, and NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson will try for his third win at the race. Johnson is also a six-time Sprint Cup champion.Johnson joined the “CBS This Morning” co-hosts from the Daytona International Speedway in Florida to discuss the significance of the race and criticism surrounding Danica Patrick. He told the co-hosts that the Daytona 500 “is a great race” for his sport.
“Our sport was founded here in Daytona Beach back in the late '40s. This racetrack was put here, and really the spectacle of all NASCAR racing started here,” he said. “It’s kind of hard to have the Super Bowl of racing start off as our first event, but it’s the history of our sport, and we’re all geared up and ready to go.”
Johnson said that, although it was a very short off-season for him and many others, they are ready to “come out and put on a great show for the fans.”
He also discussed what makes his strategy different from that of others on the track, saying he feels like his background in racing in the dirt on motorcycles and in trucks as a kid gave him the ability “adapt” to diverse situations.
“Those vehicles were never stable or comfortable, and being on the dirt certainly gives you that uncomfortable feeling too,” he said. “We have a long season, and our races are very long. You have the opportunities to work on your car, to evolve across the season, and over the course of the race and I think our team does a great job of managing that.”
Most people do not think about how being physically fit impacts NASCAR racing, but Johnson has taken to running and discussed the importance of building endurance for a racecar driver.
“The strength training … is so important for being in our cars and dealing with the G-forces and the physically loading that we deal with in just a standard turn, and of course in an accident or a crash you need that mass to hold you in place and take care of yourself,” he said. “Endurance is a big part of what we do, and of late I’ve been very interested in triathlons and spend a lot of time running, swimming and biking.”
“CBS This Morning” co-host Norah O’Donnell asked Johnson about remarks that fellow NASCAR driver Richard Petty made about Patrick's driving ability. When asked whether Patrick could ever win a championship, Petty said Patrick was only capable of winning “only if everyone stays home.”
Johnson told the co-hosts that this was the first time he
had heard that comment but he thinks Patrick is “very good for the sport of
"That's a pretty strong zinger there," said Johnson. "Danica is a great competitor, and, you know, at this stage she's still learning and developing as a driver, and only time will tell what degree she'll arise to among a stock car- these vehicles are very different than what she started off racing in an open wheel. She definitely has a long road ahead of herself, but she's committed to our cars."