What keeps Jimmie Johnson motivated after five titles?

The five-time champion likes to make lists and cross off his accomplishments

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Jimmie Johnson has won five championships and 65 Sprint Cup Series races — including last week at Dover International Speedway. At 38, his career winnings are nearly $127 million.

With so much that Johnson has already accomplished, what keeps him motivated each week to continue working hard?

Lists, for one thing.

“I am happy when I accomplish things,” Johnson told reporters Friday at Kansas Speedway. “I’m happy when I make lists all the time and I scratch things off my list. Whether it’s a honey-do list or goals I make for myself, I just have my mindset where I like to work through things and accomplish that.”

Though he didn’t reveal what’s on his list these days, it likely includes winning a sixth championship. With seven races left in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, Johnson is just eight points behind leader Matt Kenseth.

With all he’s achieved, Johnson could probably coast on his reputation and have a job for as long as he wanted it without worrying about sullying his image.

He can’t help but work as hard as ever, though — both on his physical fitness and behind-the-scenes dealings with his No. 48 team.


“I think a lot of it is just my DNA and the type of person I am and the family I grew up in,” Johnson said. “I go back through my grandparents, great-grandparents (and) they were all just all hard-working people. I grew up in that environment and around it.”

jj_small What keeps Jimmie Johnson motivated after five titles?

“I have more things on my plate, but the time that I do a lot to train and the time that I do a lot for working with the team and coming to the track, I’m just much more focused,” he said.

As for the racing? Johnson said the top three in points — Kenseth, Johnson and Kyle Busch — aren’t in the clear yet. Though fourth-place Kevin Harvick and fifth-place Jeff Gordon are both 39 points out of the lead, Johnson said it was possible for those drivers to climb back into the championship hunt without the top three having problems.

“If we all start running seventh or eighth and somebody gets hot, they can make up points,” Johnson said. “I still think it’s possible, largely because there are seven (races) left. That starts shifting dramatically as we get later in the season.”