NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Jarit Johnson Driver Diary: A Lot to Offer, Shop Dog & Time Flies!

Greenville was rough. The car got torn up, and we had to cut it from the door tops down and replace the whole body. We don’t have the funds to send it out to someone to hang a new body, but I got a surface plate from a friend and we started hanging our own bodies to cut down on the cost. If there was money, I’ve got a lot of friends who are body hangers who I’d love to send business to, but at this time there’s no money. The economy is so bad. We’re looking for sponsorship. I’ve got a bunch of people helping me out looking, but it’s just all up in the air.

We did the body work on our Greenville car to save money, our short-track car, first, because it’s not as aero sensitive as the car for Iowa, Loudon and Dover. I have some friends in the body hanging business that helped me and told me what they’re doing. The biggest thing is it saves me $10,000 to do it myself. It costs me $500 for the material to do it, so why not do it on my own time? Otherwise, the cars would have just sat here until we found $10,000. Do I want to get into that style of business? I’m not looking to be a full-time body hanger, but my fabrication company has the capability to do it for my cars. We can do it for other teams, too, but it’s not something I’m focused on right now.

When and where we race comes down to sponsorship. We are trying to get the meetings. Shawn Stewart does that for me, and we’ve been working really hard at it. We have some great opportunities for sponsors with some great value, but it’s just a matter of getting in front of the decision makers, learning about their business, and then implementing a solid marketing plan. There are a lot of races on the schedule that run with the big Cup weekends. We can really provide some value at those races without the high cost of the higher levels of NASCAR.

So, we’re looking to go racing; it’s just a matter of time. We’re trying to weigh it out. We can go to Loudon and run good – we can go to all these places and run good! For what I have and what we do, we have opportunities to win races. We show up with a 26’ enclosed trailer and run a very humble team. We have good cars.

I could go back and race late models but honestly, I don’t want to. I’d rather be focused on getting my stuff right, going to Loudon, trying to win a race in front of the Nationwide teams and bring a car home that’s in one piece. I know running the late models does keep you more in the seat. Over the winter, when you haven’t sat in the car, you have to get back in the groove – but the late models are just so much different. I haven’t run it in two years. My late model is for sale, too. I have 12 wins in that car. Max Papis leased it and raced it in a UARA race, but I haven’t driven it in almost two years. I like to race at Hickory, and I’ve had a lot of success up there, but I’d rather be in the bigger car and get more experience in those cars.

Outside of racing, we’ve got a little puppy added to the family: little Lucy, a black lab. She’ll be 13 weeks old on Monday. I had my 11-year-old lab, Kayla, but she got sick and I had to put her to sleep, and we got Lucy and brought her home, and I just realized it last week that their birthdays are the exact same date – February 22. Kayla was February 22 of 1999, and Lucy is February 22, 2010. She’s a good dog – she’s the shop dog.

Kayla had a freak deal where the vet thinks she swallowed an artificial sweetener. Chewing tobacco and sugar-free chewing gum contain a sweetener that is toxic to dogs – three pieces of sugar-free chewing gum can kill a 65-pound dog. I did the research and found that chewing tobacco has all those sweeteners in it, and that’s all we could think of to attribute it to. One of my friends was there, they dropped a piece, and she ate it. Kayla always ate everything that fell on the floor… bugs, whatever you name. He didn’t get it back up in time and she ate it. I can’t put it all on him. I don’t know for sure. I looked through the yard for gum wrappers and everything – it’s bad stuff for the dogs. It was just a tough deal. Kayla was my best friend for 11 years.

On a happy note, my son, Connor turned four, and we had a bunch of people over at the house. There were a lot of kids running around. We had a bouncy jump, and it was quite fun! I can’t believe he’s four, it just flies by! He was born literally as Jimmie crossed the finish line to win Talladega. Jimmie was told he was an uncle in victory lane. That seems like yesterday….

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