Johnson: Drivers ‘Wired’ To Make Iffy Decisions
By Deb Williams | Senior Writer
MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Five-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson said Friday he believes a change is coming in how NASCAR deals with drivers that may have a concussion.
“We know that a series of concussions within a short period of time is very dangerous and we need to keep our sport safe,” said Johnson, who earned the pole Friday for Sunday’s TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway. “We need to make sure we’re not putting a driver back in harm’s way. I know if somebody is living through it, it’s probably going to be tough and might be on the slow side of returning to the track. With safety in mind, I think it’s important.”
Johnson admitted it would be hard to step out of the car with only two or three races remaining if he were hurt and still in the hunt for the championship. In fact, he didn’t step aside as a child when he was racing dirt bikes.
“The very first championship I won I blew my knee apart and had reconstructive knee surgery, missed two weekends, but still had the points lead,” Johnson said. “I figured out that if I started the last two races, I would get a starting point and I would tie my competitor and I would win the tie-breaker due to wins. So at 8 years old I rode around that dirt bike track with my leg in a cast and rode my one lap to tie points so I could get the big trophy at the end of the year.
“It’s just wired in competitors. It’s crazy and this is what we do.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is wearing a new helmet this weekend, but says he isn’t changing from his Impact helmets because of his concussions.
“I have just wanted to try the Stilo helmet since they made some modifications to it,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “I had worn one before. I liked the helmet back then, a couple of years ago, when I decided to wear it, but there was a particular part about the helmet that I didn’t like that they weren’t able to make an adjustment for at that time, so I went away from the helmet.
“It’s definitely not a final decision. I’m just checking it out because I liked it before. I’ve enjoyed working with Impact and I do like their helmets. I just didn’t want anybody to get the wrong idea.”
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