I have never been a NASCAR fan. For a guy who loves sports, I knew more about curling than I did NASCAR. I could never understand why watching cars making hundreds of laps was so popular.
Then I attended the 2014 Daytona 500 in Jacksonville, Florida courtesy of Lowe’s and my life changed. I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve watched each of the ensuing races in Phoenix and Las Vegas, intently. We interviewed 21-year old rookie Kyle Larson since then and my respect for him, and the sport, is through the roof.
The highlight of the trip? Meeting six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and Lowe’s driver Jimmie Johnson.
Prior to meeting Jimmie Johnson, I had no frame of reference for his level of success or how historically dominant he has been working alongside Crew Chief Chad Knaus.
It was only after someone aptly explained that Knaus is the Bill Belichick to Johnson’s Tom Brady (though they’ve been twice as successful in terms of championships) did I realize how much they’d accomplished as a team. Here’s Jimmie and I, laughing about our favorite recipes:
After I met and briefly interviewed Johnson, I was fortunate to be invited into the Lowe’s pit for the start of the race.
The thing that impressed me the most was the sound. When you’re standing in the pit, you hear this groaning sound in the distance, like a gathering thunderstorm, and then all of the sudden… BOOM! The entire field explodes right in front of you, a mix of colors and shapes that you can barely discern. Then, they’re gone again and the sound dissipates to a low hum.