The 30 minutes that changed Jimmie Johnson’s life forever

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 12:  NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Jimmie Johnson speaks to the media during the 2015 NASCAR Media Day at Daytona International Speedway on February 12, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

DAYTONA BEACH, FL – FEBRUARY 12: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Jimmie Johnson speaks to the media during the 2015 NASCAR Media Day at Daytona International Speedway on February 12, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Jimmie Johnson is a six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion. He has become a legend in the sport winning 70 races in a career spanning 14 years in NASCAR’s top series. But it wasn’t always that way.

Johnson entered NASCAR in 1998 racing in NASCAR’s second tier touring series now know known as  the NASCAR Xfinity Series. He was winless in his first three years there and entered the year 2000 at a crossroads. His team, owned by William Herzog, was struggling and Johnson faced an uncertain future.  The then 24-year old needed some advice. He got that from an unlikely source.

Hendrick Motorsports driver Jeff Gordon was already a legend as the new century dawned. He had won three titles and shook up the NASCAR world when he joined in the early 1990’s. The sport was still mainly a regional one with most drivers coming from the American south.  Gordon, a California native who was raised in Indiana, became a fierce rival to the legendary Dale Earnhardt.  Gordon paved the way for drivers outside of the south in NASCAR and helped grow its fanbase.  Recently Gordon announced that he would be leaving fulltime racing after the 2015 season. Thursday at the NASCAR Media Day ahead of the 2015 Daytona 500, Johnson reflected on just what Gordon has meant to the sport, and to him.  MORE>>>

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