Jimmie Johnson’s appearance on Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s podcast this season was long-awaited and highly anticipated, and it absolutely lives up to expectations. He was scheduled to appear on the Dale Jr. Download podcast in May, but a rain delay pushed the race at Dover International Speedway back to a Monday, so they had to reschedule.
And we’re so happy they did this week.
Johnson is Earnhardt’s longtime friend and former Hendrick Motorsports teammate – he previously told For The Win how much he misses Junior, who retired in 2017 – so of course, these two have some ridiculous stories about each other. That includes the time they were partying together, and Jimmie helped save Dale Jr., who drunkenly cracked his head open on the bottom of the late Ricky Hendrick’s pool.
Jimmie Johnson, left, and Dale Earnhardt Jr., shown here in 2014, were longtime teammates at Hendrick Motorsports. (Photo: Jerry Markland, Getty Images)
As the two drivers recalled, telling the story to podcast co-host Mike Davis, it was 2002, which was Johnson’s first full-time season and Junior’s third and they would have been 26 and 27, respectively. Johnson had just won his second Cup Series race, and Hendrick – the son of team owner Rick Hendrick – threw a party to celebrate.
Earnhardt said there were anywhere between 50 and 100 people there, and “we just hung out for hours, just celebrating, talking, laughing.” And then they somehow got the idea to pour anything that would make bubbles into the hot tub, Johnson said.
Via the Dale Jr. Download:
Johnson: We went through two stories of the house looking for anything that would foam and poured it into the hot tub.
Davis: This is where things went south, right?
Dale Jr.: Yes.
Dale Jr.: So the hot tub’s at one end of the pool – the shallow end. … There’s a handful of us in the hot tub, and man, it was hot. Had it cranked up pretty high.
Davis: Most are.
Dale Jr.: And I am like burning up! I gotta get in the swimming pool and cool off. And so I jumped into the pool and dove into the shallow end and hit my head.
Johnson: I’m telling you, it looked like a cartoon when you see the cartoon character dive in the shallow end and their feet are still sticking up. I swear, I stopped and his feet were still there, and I was like, this isn’t going to end well. And he stands up and [says], “Man, I think I hit my head.” And there’s blood just flowing, and I’m like, “Yeah, I’m pretty sure you hit your head.”
As Earnhardt explained, he he his head flat on the bottom of the pool, and it “popped an X right in the center of my head.”
The two guessed this was around 1 a.m., and Dale Jr. is “embarrassed to death,” after already being nervous about attending a party where he said he didn’t know too many people. He joked that this is like being the guy that ruins the party by starting a fight.
Well, it was Jimmie Johnson to the rescue. Earnhardt continued:
“Jimmie is like, ‘We got a guy. HMS has a doctor. He’s on call, and he’ll meet us, and we’ll get this fixed.’ And I was, ‘Are you sure?’ ‘Not a problem, whatsoever.’ So Jimmie’s gonna breakaway from the party, but they’re celebrating him, his win and the success and all that. And so Jimmie got me to the hospital, and we met this guy in this clinic. So he unlocks the door and walks us in. He’s like, ‘Oh this is fine. You’re gonna be fine.’ …
“So he lays me down on this table, and he puts this little sheet over my head and starts to go to work. And Jimmie’s over in the corner playing with all the tools. … Jimmie’s walking around there going, ‘What does this do?!’ Bing, bing, bang, bang, banging on stuff. And it’s just a real funny scene.”
But of course, that’s not where this story ends.
The doctor told Junior not to go to sleep for a while, which is normal for a head injury. So he said they went back and continued drinking, which is not great after a head injury.
“We went back to the house, and I was like, ‘He told me not to go to sleep, so I guess we gotta sit up and drink some more beer,'” Earnhardt said. “So we got right back to it.”
And then he said: “I did end up peeing in the closet that night.”
We’ve mentioned this moment with some of Dale Jr.’s other stories, but Johnson and Earnhardt both shared their sides of what exactly happened here:
Johnson: I was passed out on the floor and I heard a commotion and I looked up and Dale was sleep walking and had the closet door open and thought it was the bathroom. … I was like, “He’s not going to – whoa, wait! Dale! Dale!”
Dale Jr.: I know, so I woke up standing up peeing. This is how it happened! I’ve never slept walked in my life, as far as I know, and when I woke up, it was because somebody was saying, ‘Hey, Dale! Hey!’ And I woke up and I’m like, ‘Oh, no! Oh, nooo!'”
Johnson’s appearance on the Dale Jr. Download this week was highly entertaining, and we recommend listening to the whole thing.
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