With the series staking claim in the Lone Star State this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway, now seemed like a good a time as any to catch up with Twitter's favorite Texan, comedian Jenny Johnson.
Johnson, the former news producer-turned-comedy writer, has been a lifelong fan of NASCAR and took in the recent Auto Club 400 Sprint Cup Series event at Auto Club Speedway as a special guest of 2012 champion Brad Keselowski.
She blogged about her whole day over at Paper Magazine, which you can read here.
You were a guest of Brad Keselowski's, how'd that come about?
That actually came about through Twitter, of all things. It was just one of those things that prior to the Daytona 500 two years ago, where he was tweeting during the race when Juan Pablo Montoya hit the jet dryer. He was tweeting all that stuff and got all those followers, but him and I had been kind of following each other prior to that. We would always just goof around back and forth because I'm just a NASCAR fan so I follow some of my favorite drivers. He's pretty funny on there and I know for people who aren't really race fans they have little to no interest in following a NASCAR driver but for me, I'm a long-time fan, I've watched it my entire life. I think he's a really funny guy and I happened to be out in LA before I moved out here the same time he was when they were racing last year in Fontana and we were staying at the same hotel, so him and some of the guys from him team were there and we had some beers and hung out and we just kind of became friends after that.
All photos courtesy of Paper Mag.
You mentioned in your blog that the race was "so baller".
It was really cool, because my entire life, I'd only gone to Texas Motor Speedway and prior to that I had only gone to Texas World Speedway, which was in College Station, where they ran ARCA races. So, once they built Texas Motor Speedway I was like 'Oh, that's great, I can actually watch a Cup race'. So, my dad and I would go and do the full weekend of watching qualifying, practice, Nationwide and the Cup race. So (when I went to Auto Club) it was my first time to go where I wasn't just in the grand stands as a fan, I had the royal treatment of walking out on the track and being there during the pre-race stuff; stuff I'd never been able to do before. I was usually just a fan in the background so that was kind of cool. Having only watched it from a far on TV or when you're there and just in the grand stands, to actually being down there…
Did you get a tour of the garage area or just venture out on your own?
(FOX Sports 1 host) Rutledge Wood we met somewhat the same way (as Keselowski). I somewhat met him through Twitter, but he ran a celebrity race with a friend of mine who's an actress, Jenna Elfman (of Dharma & Greg fame), and she was like 'He's such a fan of yours and he really wants to meet you, so that was the first time I'd ever met Rutledge in person, but he's like the nicest person and (at Auto Club) he was just like 'Yeah, let's go down to the garage!' and we walked right over to Joey Logano's hauler and Joey came out and he was like 'Yeah, come on I'll take you for a tour,' and we walked through and he just showed me -- he had just wrecked his car and had to go to a backup car -- so he was showing us where his wrecked race car was and for a fan I was completely geeking out over the whole thing, I thought it was awesome.
But what was the most baller part of it all?
I really did like the pre-race stuff. Being there for the national anthem and watching the flyover and being on pit road, there's something about being there for pre-race. The way that the pit crews line up, hand over heart it's all patriotic, there's just something about it. Being a lifelong fan I couldn’t believe I was actually down there.
I was standing next to Brad on pit road and I kept teasing him like 'I should have borrowed somebody's baby or something' because Brad had qualified second and Jimmie Johnson had qualified third and him and his wife and his kids were all there. And me and Brad could've had our moment like "Yeah, no, no. It's fine. It's just our baby." It would've been perfect just to find a random baby and hold it. Why not? You know, me and Brad, our private life. We choose to keep it private.
I'm not a big fan of the Busch brothers, though. I was kind of disappointed that Kyle won.
Any reasoning behind that?
Really, I didn't have anything against Kyle at first, but Kurt Busch and I, I'm 35 about to be 36, so we're about the same age. I remember his rookie year and he was this scrawny little guy and him and Jimmy Spencer would always kind of go back and forth along the track, especially at Bristol. But my favorite driver growing up was Terry Labonte. That was my ultimate favorite driver. I remember Kurt giving this interview like he doesn't want to be starting the race in the back with the washed-up has-beens. And for him to be a rookie saying that about a Cup champion, with all the history behind this sport and for some smart mouth kid to say something like that was just so disrespectful to all the veteran drivers who've been doing this for 20-plus years.
So that was the first it was like 'Are you kidding me? Really? Wow, you're not going to make any friends,' but then I kind of started to realize that was their thing. They're fine with being that way. Why else would they put 'Rowdy' and 'Outlaw' above their doors? Like, who does that? That's such a jerk thing to do; like they're purposely picking that role and running with it. I couldn't personally understand wanting to be that way. But you look around during driver introductions and when they're announced you look around and everyone is booing and giving the finger. I wouldn't feel very good about myself. The sad thing, too, is that the two of them are such great drivers. Not my cup of tea, though. I appreciate the guys who are more complimentary and not sitting there trying to stir the pot.
Speaking of stirring the pot, what's your take on the drama between your boy Brad and Kurt at Martinsville?
That's one thing I always liked about Brad, was that he is very articulate on top of being outspoken. He doesn't just pop off at the mouth and say something crazy, it seems like it's thought out and I really did enjoy him calling out Kurt. I really like Ryan Newman as well and I remember one time he made a comment about Kurt Busch. There was something where Kurt hit Newman on pit road after the race was over and Kurt said something like 'Oh, I was trying to take my helmet off'. First off, no one tries to take their helmet off until the car stops. And Ryan said 'No, I think he's just that mad of a person. He couldn't fess up that he hit me on purpose because he knew that he would get in trouble.'
So you've now been to Texas and Auto Club. Where to next?
I've always wanted to go to the night race at Bristol. That's the one that if you're a fan, everybody wants to go to. I don't have much desire to hit a restrictor-plate race because I like watching more racing. I don't want to see a wreck. That doesn't do it for me. I actually like to watch the racing, like, I love Martinsville. I like the beating and the banging, knowing that you know, it doesn't always end well. Unfortunately for Brad he kind of got screwed. But usually those guys can spin out and get right back in it and still win the race. It's not quite as traumatic as when you go tumbling down the front straight-away at Talladega and everyone is holding their breath. I don't enjoy it because it's just such a scary thing to watch.
She was recently on an episode of the Comedy Central late night show @midnight, will be featured on an episode of FOX News' Red Eye w/Greg Gutfeld airing later this month and narrated an upcoming episode of Comedy Central's Drunk History about Dolly Madison. In addition, Johnson has a currently-untitled HarperCollins book of essays due out this fall.