(Press Release): Jimmie Johnson appears on the cover of this week’s Oct. 17, 2011, issue of Sports Illustrated, on newsstands Wednesday. It is the second time Johnson has appeared on the cover. His last appearance was on the Nov. 24, 2008, issue, which was also the last motor sports cover of SI.
For three days leading up to Sunday’s race at Kansas Speedway, senior writer Lars Anderson (@LarsAndersonSI) shadowed Johnson and the rest of the number 48 team, allowing Sports Illustrated into the inner-workings of the dynasty that is the motor sports equivalent of the Yankees in the ’50s and the Celtics in the ’60s. Starting with the first practice last Friday, Anderson witnessed Johnson burning off the stress of a slow qualifying run with a sushi dinner with Dale Earnhardt Jr., studying notes on his past races at Kansas and relaying his thoughts to crew chief Chad Knaus. Anderson was also inside Johnson’s garage and on pit road in the minutes leading up to Johnson’s win (page 46).
Among the quotes that Anderson collected from Johnson last weekend:
On how he likes his chances in the Chase (Friday morning): “People wrote us off just two weeks ago, but man, we are coming on. This is our time of the year, and I just can’t wait to get out there and flex some muscle.”
On overcoming his 19th-place qualifying time (Saturday morning): “It’s so hard to pass this year simply because of how the cars are built. On a green flag run sometimes I’ll only be able to pick off two or three guys. Chad and I spent a lot of time last night trying to figure out what to do.”
On the secret to his win (Sunday evening): “The changes we made to the car during the weekend meant everything. I think my stress level is close to an all-time high. This was a great step forward, but we have to keep it going.”