“Reminded Him I’ve Been There” – How Jimmie Johnson Motivated Chase Elliott to Overcome Pre-Race Penalty and Win the Title

Published 11/09/2020, 8:46 AM EST
Nov 8, 2020; Avondale, Arizona, USA; NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson (48) congratulates Chase Elliott (9) as he celebrates after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Championship at Phoenix Raceway. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports


Chase Elliott was in a serious spot of bother as he was sent to the rear before the start of the NASCAR Cup Series championship race. As the race began, those watching were left in awe of how Elliott managed to turn around the situation in no time.

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While the motivation of winning the title was big on him, a crucial push from Jimmie Johnson helped Elliott greatly.

Back in 2016, Johnson managed to win the championship 4 race from the rear. The retiring NASCAR legend revealed after Sunday’s race that he used his experience to motivate Elliott.

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“That’s what went through my mind today when I heard they were going to the back. I sent Alan and Chase a text and reminded them that I won a championship that way,” Johnson said in his post-race interaction.

Nov 8, 2020; Avondale, AZ, USA; Chase Elliott celebrates winning the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series after winning the Season Finale 500 at Phoenix Raceway in Phoenix, Ariz. on Nov. 8, 2020. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Breen-USA TODAY NETWORK

What Jimmie Johnson told Chase Elliott on the track

Johnson did not stop there. He made sure he added a personal touch as well. The seven-time champion caught up with Elliott before the driver introduction ceremony and further motivated him.

When Johnson won after starting from the rear, he realized he was actually a lot less nervous during the race. He knew exactly what he needed to and reminded his teammate the same thing.

“I reminded him, I’ve been there. Of the championships I’ve won coming from the back, I had less nervous energy in my body when I took the green flag and it was very easy what I needed to do,” Johnson said.

“I shared that with him, and he smiled and he said, I hope that’s how it goes today. And it did,” he added.

Storybook stuff.

As @JimmieJohnson closes his @NASCAR career, he congratulates his teammate @ChaseElliott on winning the championship. pic.twitter.com/Sl9E4hH6ON

— #NASCARPlayoffs on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) November 8, 2020

“Plenty good on his own”

Johnson refused to accept that he passed the torch to the next generation, led by Elliott. He believes the 24-year-old star driver is more than capable of carving his own path and does not need Johnson.

We didn’t think of it as a passing of the torch, but I tried to share some of my experience with him before the race. He doesn’t need my help. He’s plenty good on his own. I’m glad it worked out for him,” the 45-year-old expressed.

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LONG POND, PA – JUNE 01: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, and Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s for Pros Chevrolet, talk in the garage during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Pocono 400 at Pocono Raceway on June 1, 2018 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Elliott was in the top-10 even before the competition caution at Lap 30. Soon, he was fighting for the top spot and hardly ever let go of it once he earned the lead. Elliott ran the most inspired race of his career, and his win was eventually a dominant one.

Johnson and Elliott also shared a warm embrace after the race on the track, and Johnson was all praise for his teammate.

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Aayush Majumdar

948 articles

Aayush Majumdar is a NASCAR content strategist, a Tennis Writer, and a sports analyst at EssentiallySports. He is well-tenured as a tennis and NASCAR writer, with over 900 articles across both sports. After pursuing a Post Graduate program in Sports Management, Aayush explored various roles in Sports Media, including a Sports Reporting role at a leading English daily.

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