News & Media

Six Pack of Pop: King goes from just a racer to trending on Twitter

March 13, 2012, Joe Menzer,

Surprise Daytona winner has life change overnight, even appearing on CNN

John King, surprise winner of the season-opening Camping World Truck Series race at Daytona International Speedway this season, answers this week's six questions.

1. How thrilling was it to win at Daytona in only your eighth career start in the Truck Series?

King meet King

Daytona winner John King got the opportunity to speak with CNN anchor John King about his first Truck Series victory.

King: Oh, man. It was unreal. There was a lot of angst over starting the season with my new Red Horse Racing team. We were just ready to get to the race track and get some laps in. We went there with the intent of just finishing the race. Not in a thousand years would we have dreamt that we'd actually go there and win the thing. So it was just a good weekend in every way it could be. ... Both me and the crew chief [Chad Kendrick], we were new to the organization. We were still learning each other, but it couldn't have worked out better. Every call we made was in conjunction with one another. Everything just fell into place. It was just kind of one of those fairytale races. It was a pretty neat deal.

2. Have you had a chance to talk with Johnny Sauter yet about what happened at Daytona (King got into Sauter, who was leading at the time, on the last lap and appeared to wreck him)?

King: I tried to get a hold of him and we haven't been able to get in touch yet. I left him a voicemail and that's as far as we've gotten so far. I'm sure I'll talk to him in the coming weeks, see him at Martinsville [for the next Truck race on March 31] and speak to him. From the sounds of his post-race interview, he kind of knew what happened -- so that's good.

3. And what did happen? Wasn't it sort of just a byproduct of hard racing on the last lap at Daytona?

King: I told our crew chief over the radio, 'Man, I wrecked him -- but I don't really know how.' In my head, in the previous caution, Jason White's spotter came to my spotter and said, 'Jason's good to get pushed. Give him a shove all the way around the race track. He's ready to try to win this thing.' I was like, 'I'll push him on the straightaways, but there's no way I'm going to push him going into the tri-oval or going into the corners.'

So when I got behind Sauter, it was the same deal. I asked our spotter if he was good if I pushed him, and he said, `Yeah, he's good for whatever.' I thought, 'Well, there's no way I'm going to push him [other than on the straightaways]' -- because I thought that's what was going to happen. So I got to him before the tri-oval and I rolled out of the gas -- and I never stopped. It wasn't until after the race that I was told I got help from behind, that everyone was pretty much locked up and that we kind of got pushed into him. I'm not sure there's much else that I could have done. If I had done anything different, I probably would have been sharing the same fate he did.

Life changing

John King came from nowhere to win the Truck Series race at Daytona.

4. You were born in Kingsport, Tenn., which is pretty close to Bristol Motor Speedway. Will you be at the track this weekend even though there is no Truck race?

King: Oh, yeah. I'll be there Thursday through Sunday. I think they've got a lot of plans for me, using me for some different stuff. I'm more than happy to do it. I've never really been part of doing interviews and signing autographs, so it'll be pretty wild.

5. Speaking of interviews, how was it going on CNN for an interview conducted by the other John King?

King: It was a neat experience. I won't lie, I was a little nervous because I hadn't been able to keep up with the news or politics as much as I should. But it worked out really well.

He tweeted me right after the win. He told me after the fact that one of his friends had texted him and said, 'Hey, you're trending on Twitter.' I didn't even know what trending was; I can barely even turn the [Twitter] thing on. But I had somebody explain it to me. ... So he told his friend, 'Yeah, I'm trending -- but it's the wrong John King.' Then he tweeted me and said, 'Hey, if you let me come to the race track sometime, I'll have you in the studio and you can draw on my magic erase board.' I said sure and he said just to expect a call from his people.

6. Was it pretty surreal having someone with the same name interviewing you?

King [chuckling]: I think they called the segment, 'John King on John King.' He hadn't known about me for very long, but I had known about him for a long time. So it was one of those neat deals where you get to meet certain people and celebrities. It was pretty wild. He says he's going to try to make it out to a race track sometime pretty soon, so we look forward to having him.