Johnson back at track after death of brother-in-law
Five days after the death of his brother-in-law, Jimmie Johnson was back in a familiar spot at Texas Motor Speedway: Behind the wheel of the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.
And the six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion did what he does best, as he drove to the top of the speed charts during Friday’s lone practice round for Sunday’s Duck Commander 500.
Johnson’s first lap of 193.237 miles per hour turned out to be the fastest time in the session, ahead of Greg Biffle, Ryan Newman, Dale Earnhardt and Brian Vickers.
Prior to practice, Johnson spoke about the death of Jordan Janway, 27, the brother of Johnson’s wife, Chandra. Janway was killed last Sunday when he collided with another skydiver during a jump and was knocked unconscious. His parachute never opened. Janway was a professional instructor who had made more than 1,000 jumps.
"He was just a free spirit, a very adventurous guy," Johnson said of Janway. "Base-jumping and parachuting and wearing the squirrel suits like you see the guys flying along the cliff sides, that’s what he did. He’s in a lot of those videos shooting that footage. So, it was a tragic death for sure. But he was doing something he loved. He was very passionate about it. And he never met a stranger. He was a very warm and caring young man and heâs definitely going to be missed."
Johnson thanked the racing community and his fans for their support in recent days.
"I appreciate the opportunity to say thank you to everybody for your thoughts and prayers," Johnson said. "This week has been a very difficult week for the Janway family. It’s been so tough for me to sit back and watch the people I love so much deal with so much pain. But, things are progressing and everybody is as good as you could hope. Last night, the family spent a lot of time telling stories about Jordan and smiling a little bit; smiling more than tears, and the healing process has definitely started.
"So, I just wanted to come in (to the media center) and make a brief comment before we got busy with racing," Johnson added. "And then, try to switch my mind into this racing reality and focus the next couple of days and go racing and try to win a race. So, just once again, thank you to sponsors, fans, friends, and everybody involved. The few times I did check into social media, there’s just been a huge outpouring of support and I’m very thankful."
Johnson said he was unsure if he would run a decal honoring Janway on his car on Sunday.
"I haven’t thought that far ahead for the car or helmet or anything," Johnson said. "It’s been such a wild and crazy week. So now that my mind is going to switch into race mode I’d certainly consider something there and take a look at it."