You mentioned how important it's been to you to have the support of your family, your friends, your crew. After the race it seemed like there were a few drivers that were acknowledging what you did. How important is it to you, or do you feel anything special knowing that you have the respect of the guys out there that you're battling with the entire day, and they know what you've been through and what this means to you today?
No, it's a great point. It was actually probably one of the most special moments of the win was coming around the backstretch and having so many guys to show your respect.
Every single car that came by put a tyre mark on the door or was shaking their fist in a good way, or gave me a wave and just - and it wasn't just a lazy wave. They really meant it. I'm very thankful for that. I'm sure not everybody in the field, but I'm thankful that most of them and a lot of my peers that I raced with for so long and that I have so much respect for, that it's shown in return in a moment like this.
A lot of those guys know, you know, everything I've gone through, and one in particular, Casey Mears and Jimmie came to victory lane, and those are two of my closest friends in motorsports, and have a lot of respect for both of them, great guys.
But when Jimmie came by me on the racetrack, I think he was shaking his fist harder. He was like jumping out of the seat, I think he was so excited for me. I haven't seen him fist pump that hard since, I don't know, maybe a Daytona win or something. And that meant a lot to me.
Jimmie is first and foremost a friend, but he's probably one of the greatest drivers that have ever raced this sport. He's won five championships. You know, him, along with a lot of others, it just meant a lot.
The first time I met Jimmie was I think 2001, was my very first Nationwide race. I was completely lost and apparently it was clear in my face. So Jimmie, who was racing Nationwide at the time come up and said, "You look lost."
I said, "Yes, I am."
He said, "Come over here."
I said okay. He showed me around. He told me my driver intro; this is where you need to go, this is where you need to be, and that was the first time I met Jimmie Johnson. He didn't know me, I didn't know him. He was just helping me out and we became friends and been friends for a long time. So than meant a lot to me.
I want to say one thing about Jimmie, it's funny, we talked about this. But after Jimmie won last week, I sent him a message and told him congratulations.
He sends me a message back, and it said, "Hey, man, that means a lot to me. I've never told you before, but you have done completely awesome and I'm so proud of what you've done."