CONCORD, N.C. -- Like most people in the world, Jimmie Johnson has had to adapt to a slower and safer lifestyle at home over the past couple of months. The seven-time Cup Series champion has learned the ins and outs of iRacing, been a tutor to his young daughters and is waiting patiently to return to the track.
Johnson said one of the bigger shocks he’s had is the difficulty with iRacing. There are a lot of behind-the scenes techniques and necessities that the fans don’t always see. Johnson revealed several third-party apps tie into the simulation so all the data can be available, plus apps that allow drivers to have good communication with their crew chiefs and spotters.
"Playing the game is certainly challenging on its own, but I had no idea the rest that went into it,” Johnson said. "That’s really what rocked my world in Week 1 and even into Week 2. It was literally five or six days a week, four to five hours a day, just trying to figure it all out and get it set-up."
Despite the difficulties, Johnson said iRacing has been nothing but beneficial to the sport as a way for fans and drivers to stay engaged with the NASCAR world while remaining at home.
Even though Johnson isn’t at the track or traveling with the No. 48 team, he’s still trying to instill a sense of normalcy for him and his family. Staying busy has been the best solution for the Johnson crew.
"We are just trying to give our kids as much time as possible with homeschooling while trying to create some balance in our own lives, too," he said. "When you are always on the go and the world basically comes to a halt, it took some adjusting. We try to get the girls outside and there are tons of projects to do – painting, planting, etc. I’ve had to learn to be a homeschooler and that has been very interesting."
When Johnson isn’t iRacing or helping his daughters with online schooling, he’s outside. He said the family is doing everything together, including swimming, cycling and even some dirt biking and horseback riding.
Many have speculated that Johnson might push back his retirement another year since the NASCAR season was put on hold, but he hasn’t dwelled on that thought much.
"This is way bigger than me and way bigger than what was going to be my final time at these tracks. So, that stuff hasn’t really even crossed my mind” he said. "There have been so many other issues at hand to think about and be concerned with that I haven’t thought much at all about it being my final year and what I might be missing for myself.
"It’s been more about others and more about the fans and what I see on my social thread. I see people who have been lifelong fans who are sad they don’t get to see me run."
While Johnson hasn’t declared what his plans for the future will be, one thing is certain – he’s itching to get back into his No. 48 Chevrolet ZL1 1LE. His team has had continuous calls on different scenarios that will allow drivers to get back to work in the future, but in a safe manner.
"I am so ready. I will be back in racetrack mode without missing a beat," he said, laughing. "I am in racetrack mode now!"