Newly crowned four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson took stock Tuesday of his latest record-smashing season, as he continued his run of press interviews in New York following his triumph at Homestead-Miami Speedway last weekend. Here are some of the highlights of his teleconference with the media:
Q. I was wondering if you could put into some kind of perspective what it means for your team to win another championship. I mean, you've gotten a lot of credit, but how much does the team really kind of factor into everything?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: They're a huge part of it. We are a team. I couldn't do it without them and they couldn't do it without me. It starts with Rick and his vision and what he has given us all to work with in his 25 years in the sport. He's just done an amazing job. I'm happy to make him happy, I'm happy to make him smile.
And I look forward to what the future holds for us, as well. I think the company is only becoming stronger. I think I'm only becoming a better racecar driver, and our team is working really well together. The fact we took one, two, three in the points also gives the company a lot of pride.
Q. You've obviously had a lot of great success on the track, but there's some sort of research out there that suggests you're still not as visible as some of the other guys in NASCAR, and I'm curious whether this bothers you, whether you ever are irked by the criticism that you're too nice or too mellow or not controversial enough.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: No. I mean, over the last couple years my fan base has grown leaps and bounds. You can read any of the data that's provided and skewed in a variety of different ways, and there's a lot of very favorable data that's out there comparing me to other athletes worldwide and a lot of really cool things that have gone on.
Obviously, Junior's success and Junior's popularity are there for a lot of different reasons. One way people measure things is based on souvenir sales, and our souvenir sales is one of the few that has been showing an increase. But we have had the same paint scheme for a long period of time.
So, I guess the bottom line is there's a lot of factors that play into that. I'm very proud of the fan base that I have. It's a very large fan base, and it's growing rapidly.
As far as being controversial, I do my fair share of stupid things and say stupid things, but in general I try to be a good sport. My parents instilled sportsmanship in me. When I tune in to watch football, I'm not the one who's watching T.O. or Ochocinco or whatever his name is these days; I'm more a fan of Jerry Rice – a guy who's out there grinding it out, scores a touchdown and runs back to the sidelines to figure out how they're going to win the game.
We're all ourselves. I've stayed true to myself and will continue to do that as time goes on.