Johnson 'intimidated' to co-host SportsCenter
November 19, 2013, Kenny Bruce, NASCAR.com
What do Billy Crystal and Ken Jeong have in common with six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson?
After today, all three will have co-hosted ESPN's "SportsCenter."
Johnson, fresh off wrapping up his sixth Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup title Sunday night, goes behind the desk for the first time this evening when he co-hosts the popular program alongside regular hosts John Anderson and Lindsay Czarniak at 6 p.m. ET.
Crystal, the actor/comedian who has hosted the Academy Awards nine times, appeared as a co-host on "SportsCenter" In December of 2012. Jeong, a member of the cast of the hit movie "The Hangover," was co-host earlier this month.
Johnson is the first athlete to co-host the program.
Tuesday was the second day of media appearances for the Hendrick Motorsports driver, and included an appearance on "LIVE with Kelly and Michael" as well as a national teleconference with members of the media before breaking for lunch.
The "SportsCenter" gig, he said, was one that had been "kicked around for a little bit."
"We had the date on the books in I guess late summer trying to make it happen," he said, but added that because of his wife's pregnancy (the couple has two young daughters), the appearance had to be postponed.
Because he is on the ESPN campus in Bristol, Conn., today for post-championship coverage, "it was real easy to transition into it," he said.
"Honestly, I've been pretty intimidated by this opportunity, although it's one I want to take advantage of. … Now I'm in that position and we're making it happen.
"It's one thing to be asked a question on camera and answering something I know about. … To actually host and carry on a show is something totally different. I'm nervous, but I know I'm going to have John and Lindsey with me on there helping me out."
While Johnson has been making the media rounds (he appeared on "The Dan Patrick Show" as well as the "Late Show with David Letterman" on Monday), it's been business as usual for crew chief Chad Knaus and members of Johnson's No. 48 team, who likely were back at work the day after Sunday's title-clinching finish in Homestead, Fla.
"They were at the shop yesterday – Chad was as far as I know," Johnson said. "Those guys work so hard through the season. … Shoot, they've probably been in '14 mode for a couple of months, focusing on … things that can be done in advance."
While the opportunities have been fun if taxing, Johnson said the highlight of the week remains getting to enjoy winning the championship with his team Sunday night.
"To finally have the weight of the championship off our shoulders, have the success that we did, it was good fun, to say the least," he said.