Dale Earnhardt Jr. praises Jimmie Johnson for not being changed by success and money

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (left) speaks with Jimmie Johnson after Sunday's race.

After Jimmie Johnson tied the late Dale Earnhardt for career Sprint Cup victories with Sunday’s win at Atlanta Motor Speedway, one of the first people to congratulate Johnson was Dale Earnhardt Jr.

The two drivers have been teammates since Earnhardt Jr. joined Hendrick Motorsports in 2008, and their teams have shared work space — commonly referred to as the "48/88 shop" — on the Hendrick campus for the past few years.

Earnhardt Jr., who finished second at Atlanta, touched on the significance of Johnson’s 76th victory while speaking this week on his weekly podcast, "The Dale Jr. Download."

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"I was proud of Jimmie," Earnhardt Jr. said. "He was going to win and tie the old man at some point, and I was glad to have ran second in that particular race. So that was a proud moment for HMS."

Earnhardt Jr. went on to heap major praise on Johnson — a six-time Sprint Cup Series champion who has achieved amazing success since joining NASCAR’s top series with the Hendrick organization in 2002.

"He’s a good guy," Earnhardt Jr. said, noting that he and Johnson talked in Victory Lane after Sunday’s race. "He doesn’t get a lot of credit for this, you know: He’s been the same guy as long as I’ve known him. Fame and championships, wins, money, none of that’s ever changed him.

"Obviously his lifestyle’s quite a bit different than it was when he first started, but as a person he’s really remained the same — so approachable, so easy to talk to, and a guy that I don’t mind going out there and competing against, and being teammates with him is great. It’s certainly helped my career. So I was happy for him."

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