NASCAR ace Jimmie Johnson hasn’t finished racking up race wins and championships just yet.
Mr. Six-Time would like to add a few more Sprint Cup Series titles before hanging up his helmet.
Johnson was in Sterling Heights on Tuesday with a group of Chevy racing champs from 2013, including this year’s Indy 500 winner, Tony Kanaan, who just signed with the Target Chip Ganassi Racing IndyCar Series team.
They were joined by fellow bow-tie drivers Johnny O’Connell, Lawson Aschenbach, Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen, Max Angelelli and Jordan Taylor.
GM North American president Mark Reuss and Chevrolet’s Jim Campbell, vice president of U.S. performance vehicles and motorsports, were on hand at GM’s Heritage Center off Mound Road to help celebrate their drivers’ winning seasons.
Johnson, whose six Cup titles ranks him behind Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Sr. with seven each, is 38, but he isn’t considering retirement anytime soon, he said.
“I know a seventh champion is out there,” said Johnson, who drives a Chevy SS for Hendrick Motorsports. “I’ve got a good window of time left where I’ll be competitive and have some opportunities to get it done. But, you know, these things are so hard to win.”
Not so much, it seems, for Johnson, who began driving for team owner Rick Hendrick full-time in 2002, snaring three race wins in his rookie season and capturing his first Cup title in 2006, winning the next four in a row.
Johnson, however, said Tuesday he thought his career in NASCAR might have been short.
“Six championships — I didn’t think I would get one,” Johnson said. “My goal when I go back to 2002? I felt I had a year or two to win a race — and if I didn’t win, then I was done. So my whole focus at first was to win a race and prolong my career. So to have it turn out like it did — I’m just blown away by the success of the 48 team.”
Johnson doesn’t foresee walking away from the cockpit until he loses his passion to drive.
“I’ve talked to Mark Martin, Rusty Wallace and Dale Jarrett about their careers,” said Johnson, who topped Matt Kenseth (Toyota) and Kevin Harvick (Chevy) for this year’s Cup honors. “Mark tried to quit a bunch of times and couldn’t; Rusty quit cold turkey and regrets it; and Dale ran until the fire went out, and that’s the approach I want to have.
“But until then, even once my fire goes out for full-time racing, I’m going to race something … whether it is sports cars, off-road trucks, I’ll be out there running something.”
Kanaan, 38, enjoyed a renaissance in his career in 2013, capturing the Indy 500 in May for the small KV Racing Technology team. It was his 12th start in the race and one of the most popular wins at the Brickyard in the history of the 500.
Kanaan will drive the No. 10 Chevy in 2014 for Ganassi, the same car driven for the team by his late friend Dan Wheldon, killed at Las Vegas in 2011, and his good friend Dario Franchitti, who retired at the end of this season because of race injuries.
“People know I chased this victory for 12 years,” the Brazilian-born driver said. “Some thought I was getting too old. We proved them wrong.
“I’ll never forget the win. It was awesome. Now I have my ugly face on the Borg Warner Trophy.
“I think Dan up there had something to do with writing that story.”
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