Friday, July 8, 2011

Johnson faces off with Junior Nation

   In the hours following last Saturday night's Sprint Cup race at Daytona International Speedway, Jimmie Johnson got deluged with comments on his Twitter account from Dale Earnhardt Jr. fans angry Johnson left Earnhardt alone on the track on the final laps while he pit for fuel.

   Earnhardt and Johnson had worked together in a two-car drafting tandem virtually the entire race but Johnson's crew chief, Chad Knaus, elected to have Johnson pit for fuel on a late caution for fear Johnson wouldn't last if the race went to multiple green-white-checkered restarts.

   Earnhardt fans perceived a slight and several criticized Johnson after the race. He seemed to get irritated with a few while attempting to respond to some of the comments.

   On Friday, Johnson was asked if he was surprised by the reaction of fans.

   “In some respects, but as time went on and the more I checked in on Twitter, I saw a lot of support from his fans. In the beginning there was plenty of creative messages on there for me. As time went on and I was really impressed and appreciate the support from Junior Nation and then also my fan base defending me and it still at the end of the day, every fan is entitled to their own opinion," Johnson said.

   "There are different things that exist inside the garage area and a different reality than people see. It’s been fun. It was my first real experience to how active social media can be following a race.”