NASCAR: Johnson loosens up

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 10, 2009

By Dan Gelston
Associated PressJOLIET, Ill. ó Jimmie Johnson’s latest happy hour is taking a spin at comedy.
The three-time defending Cup champion is trying to put the breaks on his corporate image with a video spoof on that shows Johnson offering humorous tips on how to succeed in life and on the race track.
Johnson must have found his inner stand-up comic during the shoot. He cracked a one-liner Thursday when asked about sharing a top male athlete ESPY nomination with Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps.
“Would Phelps make it in our sport? Would he pass the (drug) test?” he said to laughter.
Phelps was photographed earlier this year smoking from a marijuana pipe.
Johnson pitches a three-disc DVD set that will “nurture and encourage your inner top dog.” He’s also helped in the video by his celebrity teammates. Instead of Hendrick Motorsports drivers Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin, Johnson’s guest stars include former NFL star Jason Sehorn, singer Nick Lachey and cheerleaders who gleefully spell his name.
“It was something outside of my comfort zone and really a lot of fun to do,” Johnson said at Chicagoland Speedway. “Ultimately, the fans will decide if it’s funny or if it should die.”
Johnson is shown playing football and holding off tacklers by sticking his hand on their heads and shaking them off his leg. The would-be tacklers are kids.
Johnson also beats a senior citizen in arm wrestling. No, it wasn’t the 50-year-old Martin.
“It’s just a bunch of stupid stuff that makes it funny and different,” Johnson said. “I don’t claim to be a comedian, and I’m sure there are funnier pieces that run on there. But it’s had a very warm reception and it was fun to do.”