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HBO Premiere at Hendrick Motorsports – 24/7 Jimmie Johnson: Race to Daytona

January 27, 2010

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Rick Hendrick knows how to throw one hell of a party.

About 200 media and guests gathered at Hendrick Motorsports facility Tuesday evening for the premiere of HBO’s new reality documentary, 24/7 Jimmie Johnson: Race to Daytona. HBO Sports president Ross Greenberg, along with Johnson, pit crew chief Chad Knaus, as well as the entire #48 crew, were also on hand.

Those of us fortunate enough to attend never had to take our wallets out. Wine, beer, popcorn, candy, along with a poster, cap, and a goodie filled duffel bag were free for the taking. Directly in back of the seating area was the #48 Lowes/Kobalt Chevrolet Impala SS itself, presumably ready to challenge for . . . gasp. . . a fifth Sprint Cup championship.

During the Q&A, it was Johnson who admitted to wanting to do the 24/7 series after watching HBO’s Hard Knocks (which follows football teams around during preseason). If Johnson had the “hey, what a great idea”  aura, it was Chad Knaus who sported the “what did you get me into” look. At times looking a bit exasperated, Knaus has the unenviable job of figuring out what HBO can’t show on a program that seeks to show everything, as well as managing the #48. You can imagine every other race team will closely watch this series for the slightest misstep. Neither men knew what they would do when asked what they would be doing had it not been for racing.

Among other tidbits:

Chad Knaus has received far more speeding tickets than Johnson.

Jimmie Johnson’s favorite color is “Lowes/Kobalt blue.”

Both men were worst enemies until the “milk and cookies meeting” with Rick Hendrick.

If not for stock car racing, Johnson would’ve become a fireman.

Minutes before the program started, Johnson (his wife Chanrda home with late morning sickness due to the couple’s child due in July), Knaus, and the entire #48 crew took the first several rows to watch the premiere with those in attendance. If watching Jimmie Johnson’s inability to pee in the cup during a spot drug test was funny enough, it was hilarious watching Johnson himself laugh at his own on-screen predicament.

During the program, Chad Knaus revealed his belief that 95% of his pit crew think he’s an a**hole. There were no visible signs or nods of agreement from his crew (believe me, I looked). When one crew member asked if stating his opinion of Knaus would affect his review, every row reserved for Johnson and crew broke into a laughing fit.  This played out time and again during the course of the half hour show.

Johnson didn’t stick around more than a few seconds when the credits started to roll, choosing the quick exit. And you can’t blame him. He’ll have a camera crew following him around for the next few weeks.

Personally, I hope Rick Hendrick finds another reason to throw a party. No quick retreats here.

Editor’s Note:

Other episodes of 24/7 JIMMIE JOHNSON: RACE TO DAYTONA debut on subsequent Tuesdays – Feb. 2, 9 and 16 – in prime time at 10:00 p.m. (ET/PT). The Feb. 16 series finale debuts two days after the race, with cameras tracking all the drama and excitement surrounding Johnson and his team on race day. All four episodes will have multiple replay dates on HBO, and the series will also be available on HBO On Demand.

Hendrick Motorsports:


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