“Oh my God? Are you kidding me right now?”
That was the response by Michael Palmer, an ER nurse for Henry Ford Health Systems in West Bloomfield, Michigan, when he was surprised during an appearance on Wednesday’s “Lunch Talk Live” with Mike Tirico on NBCSN.
Palmer was among NASCAR fans, who are working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, profiled in a recent NBC Sports story. Palmer writes the No. 48 on his face shield in the hospital because he’s a Jimmie Johnson fan.
Wednesday, Johnson appeared on the show to meet Palmer.
“Thank you Michael, you are such an inspiration to all of us,” Johnson said. “I can’t imagine what you and your family are dealing with. I’m glad through my journey as a race car driver and my values that I’ve been able to inspire yourself and you’ve had something to connect with. Now it’s flipped. You’re inspiring all of us. Thank you for being on the front lines. I just can’t thank you enough, me and my family. I can only imagine how difficult it is to only see your son for one hour in four weeks.”
Said Michael: “Thank you. I appreciate that. It’s definitely been tough. My son and I have looked up to you for so long.”
Johnson also said: “We’re getting one day closer to this ending, as Michael pointed out a few minutes ago, and I think that is great advice. It’s something that I’m going to take seriously and apply to my family because we’re all getting stir crazy and ready for some normalcy.”
Johnson also offered to make Palmer an honorary pit crew member for the Bristol night race weekend, cover the costs for Palmer and his son to travel there and attend the race and also said that since Palmer’s son also likes Kevin Harvick that Harvick “has jumped on board and would love to meet with you guys and spend some time.”
Palmer told NBC Sports that after the segment he FaceTimed with his son Mikey and that his son was “jumping up and down. He couldn’t believe he gets to meet Jimmie and Kevin.”
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) April 15, 2020
I'm thankful for heroes like @Mikey2082, manning the ERs and hospitals right now. I can’t wait to give you the full race experience when we get back to the track. #WeApplaud #YouAreRemarkable pic.twitter.com/jVeZpV2jM9
— Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) April 15, 2020