Johnson Begins Champion’s Week In Vegas

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Five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson (left) and crew chief Chad Knaus pose with the 2010 trophy during day one of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champions Week Monday in Las Vegas.
Five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson (left) and crew chief Chad Knaus pose with the 2010 trophy during day one of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champions Week Monday in Las Vegas.

LAS VEGAS — Winning is never mundane.

Apparently, neither is a day-long media tour — not when it involves a five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion who doubles as a new father.

Jimmie Johnson, winner of five consecutive championships and guest of honor during this week’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion’s Week in Las Vegas, hit a number of Las Vegas media outlets Tuesday during the first day of champion’s week.

All the while he carried around a prop — his infant daughter Genevieve’s car seat. He needed it for the eventual arrival of his five-month old baby and wife, Chandra.

The daughter; the car seat; the new responsibilities. They’re just a few of the many new wrinkles to a week that has become ritual for Johnson.

“I am trying to be much more responsible since I have the baby,” Johnson said. “It means a lot to me to have her here and it’s a great experience to share it with my family. I mean, she will never remember it but we will have photos.”

Chad Knaus, Johnson’s crew chief for all five titles, joined Johnson on today’s media tour. He said that this championship has a different feel than past ones.

“This year, we didn’t have the product that we had in previous years in terms of race cars, so we had to find other ways to win,” Knaus said.

Even Knaus’s preparation for Friday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony is different.

“I haven’t even written my speech yet,” Knaus said. “In the past I’ve had about a week or so to start thinking about it. This time it was like lap 267 in Miami.”

But one factor remains the same: Johnson’s demeanor. Through the newborn, the uncertainty and, finally, the glory, Johnson has stayed cool.

“Jimmie is extremely consistent, his emotions, style, personality. He’s a stereotypical California kid,” Knaus said. “He’s just a mellow kind of guy. I think the baby just adds another level of enjoyment in his life. So for him it has really just been more of the same.”

The busy day one schedule included three radio hits, six television spots, an hour-long chat with print media and a series of photo shoots.