Dale Earnhardt is regarded as a legend, right alongside Richard Petty. Sadly, he was taken from this world much too soon. Now, Jimmie Johnson is well on his way to achieving legendary status himself, if he hasn’t already. He recently spoke to Fox Sports about his most memorable encounters with Earnhardt Sr.
Obviously, the two never competed against each other, but they have met on a couple of occasions. According to Johnson, their second meet was more hilarious. On that day, Ron Hornaday had a deal where he would help fix the damaged trucks the next day. On one of those occasions, a young Jimmie Johnson decided to tag along on for the trip.
Just then, Dale Earnhardt pulled into the shop in his black Chevy Impala. Johnson said, “I thought he didn’t see me, I’m standing right there so I was happy about that. He stopped and backed up, the window came down. I got excited, I thought maybe I’ll have a conversation with Dale Earnhardt.
“He looks right at me and he said, ‘Hey kid, are you on the payroll? Then get the hell off my property!’. Then he rolled the window up and drove off,” Johnson laughingly said.
Jimmie Johnson: From then till now
Several years down the line, Johnson would never have guessed that he would be looking back at his career this way. He would never know how he went from a star-struck boy staring at Dale Earnhardt, to matching him in Cup Series titles. To make matters even sweeter, he is tied with another NASCAR legend, Richard Petty.
Safe to say, their jointly-held record will most probably stand the test of time. Many have expressed deep admiration for Johnson, and filling his shoes will be very difficult.
However, somebody has to do it, and that man will be Alex Bowman when the 2021 season arrives. Johnson has already placed a lot of faith in Bowman and is confident that he can do justice to the #48 Hendrick Motorsports car.