Johnson: ‘Easy to get the emotions down’ while writing banquet speech

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Most activities usually get easier with repetition.

That doesn’t exclude Jimmie Johnson writing and then delivering a championship acceptance speech for the seventh time.

Well, Friday night’s speech in Las Vegas was actually the sixth one Johnson has written.

“One year, I think it might have been my first (championship) year, I had a speech writer write it and they used the word ‘awful.’ ‘I want to thank an awful lot of people,'” Johnson recalled after the Sprint Cup Awards banquet.

“I was so nervous and it wasn’t in my voice, but I proceeded to thank all the ‘awful people in the room.’ I didn’t realize I even said it until the crowd erupted with laughter, I’m like ‘what did I just say?’

“From that point on I’ve done it myself.”

Two weeks after becoming the third driver to win a seventh Sprint Cup title, Johnson once again stood on a stage with owner Rick Hendrick, crew chief Chad Knaus to thank those responsible for his record-tying achievement.

The thesis of his speech was that all seven of his titles – matching Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt – were done with one team, one crew chief, one manufacturer and one sponsor in 15 years.

“This one came together I feel pretty quick for me,” Johnson said afterward. “It was easy to get the emotions down. Clearly the one driver, sponsor, team, manufacturer, that whole component was the first thing I got down on paper and it kind of set the tone for the rest of the speech for me.”

Johnson capped off the roughly seven-minute speech by echoing how Earnhardt ended his seventh championship speech in 1994, when he tied Richard Petty.

“I might have won as many championships as Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt, but I will never be the King or the Intimidator,” Johnson said in his speech. “I’m just a guy from California who alway wanted to race.”

Johnson watched Earnhardt’s speech as preparation for his 22 years later.

“I was left with the impression he was faced with the questions, not controversy, but just discussion about tying The King and who was better,” Johnson said. “Just in the tone and the way he spoke. He wanted to pay respect to Richard. As soon as I saw that quote, watched it for myself, I knew it was going into my speech and it was so fitting and so truthful.”

Two weeks after the biggest moment of his career, Johnson said he felt like the gravity of the accomplishment finally hit him while on stage.

“I felt like I got ran over by it on the stage there tonight. That was insane,” Johnson said. “A lot of moments, it just kept building.”

One of those moments included the surprise appearance by Michael Phelps, a 28-time Olympic medalist, who Johnson had presented with a male athlete of the year award just last week.

“I saw his name pop up on the teleprompter and it wasn’t like somebody was going to talk about him, he was going to be a speaker the way it was on the prompter,” Johnson said. “I saw that pop up and I said ‘You’ve go to be kidding me.’ Then he started walking out from there. That was a complete and total shock.”

NBCSN to broadcast NASCAR announcement at 6 p.m. ET Monday

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NBCSN will air live a press conference held by NASCAR industry stakeholders to discuss the upcoming 2017 season at 6 p.m. ET Monday.

The announcement will be attended by NASCAR executives, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers, NASCAR team representatives and NASCAR track representatives.

The press conference is being held at the Charlotte Convention Center.

Kyle, Kurt Busch compete in first day of Race of Champions exhibition

DOVER, DE - MAY 30:  Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, left, talks with brother Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Skittles Toyota, in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway on May 30, 2015 in Dover, Delaware.  (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images
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Kurt and Kyle Busch are in Miami this weekend to take part in the international auto racing competition, Race of Champions. The exhibition event is two days and pits drivers from every major auto racing league against each other.

The Busch brothers are the only NASCAR representatives in the competition. They are joined multiple Formula One drivers, Verizon IndyCar Series drivers Helio Castroneves, Juan Pablo Montoya, Alexander Rossi, Ryan-Hunter Reay, James Hinchciffe and Tony Kanaan and action sports star Travis Pastrana. Prior to the start of the races, all of the drivers got psyched up together.

And right before the event began, Kurt Busch showed off his new No. 41 Monster Energy Ford by doing donuts in the middle of the race course.

But when it came time to race Kurt Busch’s had a tough day. He and former Formula One driver David Coulthard competed in the vehicles used in the NASCAR Euro Series and Coulthard crossed the finish line with a healthy lead over the Stewart-Haas Racing driver.

Kyle Busch was marginally better in his first race against F1 driver Jenson Button, who won but with the Joe Gibbs Racing driver right at Button’s rear wheel.

But Kyle Busch bounced back in his second race and defeated Hinchcliffe, which advanced him out of the first round. But he was eliminated from the competition when he was swept by Coulthard in the next round.

In Kurt Busch’s second race, he faced Hunter-Reay, who was one of his teammates when he competed in the 2014 Indianapolis 500. Busch won, but he wasn’t able to advance to the next round.

The competition was eventually won by Montoya, who is taking part in the Race of Champions for the first time.

Both Busch brothers will be back on Sunday to compete for the Nations Cup.

Kyle Busch entered into SRL Winter Showdown Super Late Model race

JOLIET, IL - SEPTEMBER 16:  Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 NOS Energy Drink Toyota, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR XFINITY Series Drive for Safety 300 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 16, 2016 in Joliet, Illinois. Busch is seen here wearing his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series fire suit.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
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Kyle Busch is entered into the third annual SRL Winter Showdown, a Super Late Model race at Kern County Raceway Park in Bakersfield, California.

Busch, who is competing in the Race of Champions this weekend in Miami, will drive the No. 51 Toyota Camry sponsored by JBL in the Feb. 11 race.

Busch and his competitors will be trying to claim the $30,000 prize for winning the race. Kyle Busch Motorsports had a presence in last year’s Showdown when Todd Gilliland competed for the team.

“They have a pretty strong field lined up again this year with Bubba Pollard coming back and trying to make it three-in-a-row. And then you add in some of the West Coast guys like Derek Thorn, David Mayhew and Noah Gragson, who will be running one of my trucks full-time this season, and it has a lot of great drivers,” Busch told “One of the things that is going to be really cool is that this will be the first time that Erik Jones and I get to race against each other in the supers since he beat me in the Snowball Derby back in 2013.”

Busch is quite successful in his Super Late Model career, having won the Snowball Derby, CRA SpeedFest, the Oxford 250, the Winchester 400 and the Battle at Berlin in recent years.

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Social Roundup: 2017 NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 20:  NASCAR Hall of Fame inductees (L-R)Richard Childress, Mark Martin, and Rick Hendrick pose for a portrait prior to the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2017 Induction Ceremony at NASCAR Hall of Fame on January 20, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
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Last night, the NASCAR Hall of Fame inducted its eighth class, including Rick Hendrick, Richard Childress, Mark Martin, Benny Parsons and Raymond Parks.

The night was filled with current and future Hall of Famers celebrating the history of the sport and the lives of the five inductees.

MORE: Benny Parsons’ Hall of Fame induction an emotional celebration

MORE: Mark Martin went from a “broken man” to a Hall of Famer

Here’s a look at how the night played out on social media with observations on the inductees from current NASCAR drivers and one message from future NFL Hall of Famer Peyton Manning.

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