The 7-time Cup Series champion was (rightfully) chosen for the Hall of Fame during a vote this week in his first year on the ballot – although there were 4 voters who somehow DIDN’T vote for him, despite the fact that he’s tied for Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt for the most Cup Series championships ever, and sits 6th on the all-time wins list with 83.
Johnson, who retired from full-time NASCAR competition after the 2020 season, is now the owner of Legacy Motor Club (formerly Richard Petty Motorsports), and at this point has accomplished just about everything you could ever hope to accomplish during a NASCAR career.
But somehow, the best Jimmie Johnson story I’ve ever heard didn’t happen on the track, but in a pool.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. told the story on his podcast, The Dale Jr. Download, awhile back. It was early on in their Cup Series careers, before they went on to become teammates at Hendrick Motorsports.
Johnson had won the race earlier in the day, and Ricky Hendrick (son of Johnson’s car owner Rick Hendrick) had invited both Dale Jr. and Johnson over for a pool party that evening.
Well things started to get a little wild, and they ended up pouring detergent into the pool to turn it into a foam party. But according to Junior, after awhile he got too hot in the hot tub and decided to jump in the pool. Except he couldn’t see the bottom for all of the suds.
According to Johnson, the whole scene was like a cartoon:
“It looked like a cartoon when you see the cartoon character dive in the shallow end and their feet are still sticking up. I swear he stopped and his feet were still there and I was like, this isn’t going to end well.
And he stands up, ‘Man I think I hit my head.’ And there’s blood just flowing. And I’m like, ‘Yeah, pretty sure you hit your head.'”
Junior says the impact caused an X-shaped hole in his head – but he was only worried about ruining the party:
“I was embarrassed to death. It was like 1:00 in the morning, peak hour of the party, still chugging along this party. And I’ve done ruined everything, right? Like the guy that causes the fight, or somebody throws up in the middle of the room, or whatever.
I’m like, I got invited out here, I was lucky enough to get asked to come out there, and here I am done ruined it.”
But Jimmie was more worried about the massive gash in Junior’s forehead, and offered to take Junior to the Hendrick Motorsports doctor to get it fixed up:
“Jimmie is like, we got a guy. HMS has a doctor, he’s on call, he’ll meet us and we’ll get this fixed…
So Jimmy’s going to break away from the party that they’re celebrating him, his win, the success and all that. So Jimmie got me to the hospital and we met this guy in his clinic. He unlocks the door and walks us in. He’s like, ‘Oh this is fine, you’re gonna be fine.’
I’m like, ‘Ok good. Is there gonna be a big scar.’
‘No, no scar. You ain’t gonna have no scar.’
And so I was like, ‘Man this is great. I thought the worst.’
So he lays me down on this table and puts this little sheet over my head and starts to go to work. And Jimmie’s over in the corner playing with all the tools.
Jimmie’s walking around going, ‘What does this do?’ Bang bang bang, banging on stuff. And it’s just a real funny scene.”
Well the doctor eventually got Junior fixed up, and told him not to go to sleep right away due to fear of a head injury.
But that wasn’t going to be a problem – because the party was still going on back at Ricky Hendrick’s house:
“I was like, ‘Not a problem, we’re going to go back, start back drinking beer.’ So we go back to the house and I was like, ‘He told me not to go to sleep so I guess we gotta sit up and drink some more beers.'”
Probably not what the doctor had in mind…
But Junior was appreciative of Johnson that day, despite the fact that they didn’t know each other very well at the time:
“That happened a long time ago. And just kind of showed me what kind of character Jimmie is, even though we were there to celebrate his day and his victory.
And everybody was there for Jimmie, and he was like, ‘Look, man, I got you. I’ll take care of this.’ And that’s just such a cool thing to do. And that’s who he is.
He’s just a really good guy, who happens to be very, very good at what he does.”
A Hall of Famer and a good guy too. You love to see it.