PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Jimmie Johnson is as decorated a driver as Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty; his seven cup titles ties the legends. He arrives in Phoenix this week looking to kick start his season.
Johnson made an early trip to town last Wednesday to spend some time with the kids at Estrella Vista STEM Academy. He made quite an entrance, pulling up in a race car on the school playground. He also to some tmie to chat with Arizona's family.
Q: "What was it like pulling up to a playground full of 1,000 screaming kids?"
A: "It's amazing. I have a 5- and an 8-year-old. Just their unfiltered excitement about life. I had a chance to pull up to kids with that enthusiasm. It was really a lot of fun."
Q: "How do you feel about the health of your sport?"
A: "It's in a good spot. It could be better. I think the vision that our leaders have for the next few years, those details are slowly starting to come out now. I think those in the know are very optimistic about where things are going. We've seen great boosts to start the 2019 season, so I think things are really trending in the right direction. Our avid fans haven't gone anywhere. They still love their NASCAR."
Q: "What's Phoenix been like for you over the years?"
A: "It's been a place I love to come to compete. It gets me kind of close to home. I grew up in San Diego. Get some decent Mexican food. Hit In-N-Out Burger. The weather is nice. It's just nice to get that small sense of home."
Q: "What's your approach this week?"
A: "There's so much new this year. We started Daytona with one rules package. Atlanta, Las Vegas was (sic) a different rules package. At ISM, we have a third rules package. We really don't have a rhythm of what the new rules want because it's changing so quickly. I think we're all just trying our best to see what we got, at this point."
Q: "So many people think of the stereotypical race driver -- the cussing, the fighting, the mustache. You kind of have a mustache right now. What's been your philosophy coming to work every day?"
A: "Just being me. We need all types, right? My wife and I always joke we love to watch a train wreck; we just don't want to be it. We need all walks of life out there. I just try to do what's right for me and that's always led me to great things in life."
Q: "Are you a football fan? Do you have an opinion on who the Cardinals should draft No. 1?"
A: "I don't have(one). I usually watch football during the season. But I 'm so into NASCAR, it's hard to pay attention. My kids are in classes with Andy Lee. He and his family live in North Carolina; he's in Arizona for the season. Now that the season is over, I see him in carpool every morning, dropping his kids off. I went to the football game last November, and I'm like, 'Oh my gosh, that's right; Andy plays here.' I thought it was cool to see that."
Q: "He's been at it for a long time. How long do you think you'll keep doing this for?"
A: "The fire still burns. I love what I do, and I really don't have a timeline on it. I have this year and next year on my contract with Hendricks, and we'll talk to our family and decide what's next."