“Still Going to Be the Big Old 48” – Spotter Earl Barban To Continue Working With Jimmie Johnson in 2021

Published 12/11/2020, 8:50 AM EST
Concord, North Carolina, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Jimmie Johnson (48) races during the Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports


The retirement of Jimmie Johnson during an unprecedented year in NASCAR caused a tinge of sadness to his and stock car racing fans in general. It was announced early in September that he would join up with Chip Ganassi Racing to take part in the IndyCar Series for 2021.

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But there was always going to be uncertainty over his team and pit crew members. And whether they would travel with Johnson on his new adventure. And by the looks of it, spotter Earl Barban might just be one of those names, who would continue with the former Cup Series champion.

Speaking in an interview, Barban stated, “I’m not working for Hendrick any longer. I am going to you know, I have watched Jimmie Johnson and enjoyed my relationship with him.”

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Might go to work with Jimmie Johnson personally, says Barban

“He’s reached out a few times. I don’t think I have to change my Twitter handles, they’re still going to be the big, old 48.”

With an eventful 2021 season on the cards for Johnson, that would equally mean business time for Barban as a spotter, playing a very important role. The 56-year-old though is already looking forward to the challenge.

Avondale, Arizona, USA; NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson (48) during the NASCAR Cup Series Championship at Phoenix Raceway. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

“Probably going to go work for him personally. We don’t exactly know everything we’re going to do, but we’re gonna have fun doing it. We’re going to you know, just be an extension of them and hopefully help them enjoy retirement and whatever holds them in the future.”

 “We have 13 IndyCar races or 14, I can’t remember. We’re gonna go run the 24 Hours race at Daytona, the Rolex. So we’re gonna do a lot of stuff.” concluded Barban on the subject.

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Barban has been working with Johnson since the 2006 season

A long-standing association with Johnson is something that Barban has, with the pair first collaborating in the 2006 season. “Big Earl” has also worked with Chase Elliott and William Byron in the past as well, during their Xfinity championship-winning stints.

Richmond, Virginia, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Jimmie Johnson (48) races during the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway. Mandatory Credit: Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

However, Barban’s most special relationship has come with Johnson, with the former team owner helping the latter in his pursuit of 5 Cup Series title wins. And now, it just seems like the relationship is set to continue, as Johnson takes his first steps into a new challenge in IndyCar.

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Bhargav Gopal

927 articles

Hailing from Bengaluru, Bhargav is an F1 and NASCAR author for EssentiallySports. He is a huge fan of Max Verstappen and Red Bull Racing. Bhargav also has an MBA in Sports Management from the Symbiosis School of Sports Sciences, Pune.

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