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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – When an athlete makes it to the highest level of his or her sport, it’s the culmination of a lifetime of hard work and dedication.

Putting on that helmet and firesuit for the very first time in the NASCAR Cup Series, it might seem like a dream. Ironically, one thing that makes it feel real could be a video game.

“We start off racing and just hope to have your name on a trading card or an autograph card or be in the game,” Jimmie Johnson said. “I was talking to Alex (Bowman) before we came up on stage, I remember the first time I had a chance to play my car in a video game. I had one of those aha moments that I’d made it. It means a lot to me.”

For Johnson and his three Hendrick Motorsports teammates, not only will they get to play as themselves in the forthcoming “NASCAR Heat 3,” they’ll get to see themselves on the cover.

The “NASCAR Heat 3” cover art was revealed Saturday afternoon on-stage at Daytona International Speedway, and it features Chase Elliott, William Byron, Johnson and Bowman.

“To see it on such a cool game, it’s just awesome,” Johnson said. “And they made us look good and tough on the cover.”

Elliott was already plenty familiar with the “NASCAR Heat” franchise.

“I’d say my all-time favorite was ‘NASCAR Heat 2002’ that I played – that was an awesome game, and here we are in 2018 on the cover,” he said. “Just a cool experience. Like Jimmie said, to be able to have a video game and play yourself in a video game, it’s kind of weird, but an honor and definitely pretty lucky to have that chance.”

Bowman noted that sharing the cover with all three of his Hendrick Motorsports teammates makes it all the more special.

“I think it’s a lot of fun and it’s an honor to be on the cover with these three guys,” he said. “It’s pretty cool. Hopefully it’ll attract a bunch of new fans.”

For Byron, the honor comes in his rookie season. And as the youngest of the cover athletes, his teammates guessed that he would be the best at the game if they all went head-to-head.

The driver of the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 said he’d play as himself if that showdown were to happen.

“I’d say racing as yourself is pretty cool, seeing the different paint schemes and getting your friends on there to play against you or something like that is pretty neat,” Byron said.

Bowman joked that he’d rather play as Johnson in the No. 48 Lowe’s for Pros Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, “because he’s won so much, so he’s probably rated higher in the game.”

Johnson laughed that he’d play as himself as well, but guessed that his youngest daughter would pick Elliott, as she has become a fan of the No. 9 team.

“I have kids that are just figuring out gaming right now,” he said, “and I can’t wait to take the game home.”

“NASCAR Heat 3” is available for pre-order now, and it will be released on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows PC on Sept. 7.

For more information, visit or follow the game on InstagramTwitter and Facebook.

Check out the full cover reveal presentation below.