Jimmie Johnson has quite the week ahead of him. Two days after racing in the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway, the driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for Hendrick Motorsports will compete in the Boston Marathon on April 15. That’s quite the strenuous feat for any NASCAR driver, much less for the oldest driver in the league at 43. But, as a seven-time Cup Series champion, Johnson is not one to shy away from athletic challenges. Even if that athletic challenge includes temporarily ditching the helmet and racing suit for a pair of running shoes.
“[Running] challenges me on a different level, and I have to dig deep to make stuff happen,” Johnson told The Boston Globe. “And that’s what you have to do in that racecar.”
As it turns out, when it comes to athletically competing at the highest level, not everyone is on the same page once you throw a racecar into the mix. Back in 2013, former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb caused a stir in the NASCAR community when he said this about Jimmie Johnson: “He’s not an athlete. He sits in a car and he drives. That’s not athletic… What athletically is he doing?”
Johnson, who was named the AP’s Male Athlete of the Year in 2009, was the first to push back. Since then, he has been challenging the assumption that NASCAR drivers aren’t on the same level as other athletes. Now, his latest attempt to do that may upset some New England Patriots fans, after Johnson compared himself to six-time Super Bowl champ and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady during his interview with the Globe.
Per The Boston Globe:
All athletes get criticized, he says. “I mean, Tom [Brady] deals with it plenty. Is it him or is it [Bill] Belichick? Is it him or is it someone else on the team?”
The usually humble Johnson believes he is just as good an athlete as Brady is in his respective field.
“A tie,” declares the 5-foot-11-inch, 167-pound Johnson. “I know that won’t play well in Boston.”
With 83 Cup Series wins and seven championships under his belt, it’s not entirely out of bounds to suggest that Jimmie Johnson is NASCAR’s GOAT just like Tom Brady is the NFL’s GOAT. Although, when Johnson’s in Boston next week, he still may want to try keeping a low profile.