Johnson hopes to change McNabb's mind

December 02, 2013, Staff report,

Johnson addresses McNabb's controversial comments

Jimmie Johnson took to Monday night’s edition of "FOX Sports Live" to directly address former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb's comments made on the same program over two weeks ago that the now six-time Sprint Cup Series champion is not an athlete.

When asked about the comments and to respond to those that do not think NASCAR drivers are athletes, Johnson simply said, "Come to the track. Come check it out. Even go to the local go-kart track and just experience what goes on in a very simple way."

Johnson also added that he was "excited to win Donovan over. And I really think that we can because he clearly has a microphone and people listen and he's a great influence to people. ... I'd love to change his mind."

Johnson added that he loved the fact that his NASCAR community got engaged and involved after McNabb made the comments.

Johnson did offer that he did understand why people may find NASCAR not to be physically demanding because the drivers aren't physically propelling the vehicle. However, he did discuss the physical demands of being behind the wheel.

"When you understand the forces put on the driver's body, understand the heat involved, the hand-eye coordination involved, the mental aspect that's involved ... it's a far different animal. We're wearing heart-rate monitors in the race cars and we're averaging 140 to 150 beats per minute for three to four hours so there is definitely an athletic requirement."

McNabb, who is an analyst on "FOX Sports Live", is on vacation and was not on the program. However, Johnson and McNabb had a cordial exchange on Twitter.

Johnson also discussed his pursuit of Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty's record of seven Sprint Cup titles and his relationship with crew chief Chad Knaus on "FOX Sports Live." The Hendrick Motorsports driver was in Los Angeles for some appearances on FOX Sports 1 shows before heading to Las Vegas for Champion's Week. And in his tweet about leaving Los Angeles on Monday night, Johnson tossed in a quality reference to the movie "The Hangover."

Johnson was initially slated to appear on both "FOX Football Daily" at 6 p.m. ET and "FOX Sports Live" at 11 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1 on Monday, but travel issues caused the "FOX Football Daily" appearance to be canceled. He taped his appearance on "FOX Sports Live" for Monday's 11 p.m. ET broadcast.

Johnson arrived at FOX Sports 1's Los Angeles studios on Monday evening and taped several spots for various FOX Sports programs.

After winning his sixth Sprint Cup championship, Johnson embarked on a media tour on the East Coast that included "The Dan Patrick Show", "Late Show with David Letterman" while becoming the first athlete to co-host ESPN's "SportsCenter."

Meanwhile, Johnson and his No. 48 Lowe's team were honored in remarks made by Representative Richard Hudson of North Carolina's Eighth Congressional District in the House of Representatives.

Hudson's full remarks: "Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor and congratulate Jimmie Johnson for winning the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship. With this achievement, Jimmie has earned his sixth Sprint Cup championship, further securing his spot in racing history. North Carolina's Eighth Congressional District is home to many of NASCAR's greatest teams and, without a doubt, some of NASCAR's biggest fans. The Charlotte Motor Speedway, one of the premiere tracks where NASCAR races, sits in my hometown of Concord, North Carolina. Jimmie Johnson, his No. 48 Lowes team, and Hendrick Motorsports skillfully clinched the Sprint Cup title, swiftly leaving other teams in the rearview mirror. But more than a champion driver, Jimmie uses his platform as one of the best drivers in NASCAR history to assist those in need. From public education to disaster relief efforts and rebuilding homes, he has raised more than $5.6 million to better the lives of our children and families across the nation. The impact Jimmie has had on our local communities is undeniable, and we are grateful for his commitment to help those in need. I am proud to represent Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports as well as NASCAR, and we are thankful for the success this championship team brings to our state."

During the day, Johnson took some questions during his Twitter takeover of Team Lowe's Racing Twitter handle.


The trip out West, though, wasn't easy as Johnson had some travel issues leaving North Carolina.

But before leaving for Los Angeles, Johnson was at the Lowe's corporate headquarters in Mooresville, N.C., to be honored by his sponsor for his sixth Sprint Cup Series championship.