A NIGHT WITH JIMMIE JOHNSON

Jimmie Johnson has been programmed for joy, or a reasonable facsimile thereof. The driver whom this Web site has accused of being a robot recently allowed a New York Times reporter to tag along with him, his wife Chandra and their close friends during a night on the town in Manhattan. Jimmie Johnson 2.0 (the second-generation model comes with a European-soccer-style beard) did not disappoint.

It turns out Johnson is friends with singer Gavin DeGraw, whose pop music was once described by a reviewer as "beige." I think I understand how these two are friends. Over the weekend TNT did a feature on Johnson’s rise through the ranks of stock car driving. His progression – and post-race reactions – were a celebration in beige. It was a little like watching the video of the girl who makes the same face in every photo.

While attending a music show at DeGraw’s club, Johnson placed two fresh beers onstage, earning the three-time Sprint Cup champ the flattering nickname "beer fairy" from the lead singer. This, somehow, did not lead to an exchange of face punches.

The Johnsons left DeGraw’s club for a West Village restaurant called the Spotted Pig. Their car was piloted slowly by a driver named Eddie. Riding inside a car he is not driving makes Johnson carsick. Johnson swears it is "not a control thing." He is sensitive to accelerating and braking.

At the Spotted Pig, Johnson’s party was taken to a private bar where it played Hungry Hungry Hippos. Over dinner, the discussion included, among other things, the little-known songwriting career of poet Shel Silverstein. This, somehow, did not lead to anyone jumping out of the window.

A night out with Jimmie Johnson (The New York Times)

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