One day removed from visiting tornado-ravaged Moore, Okla., Jimmie Johnson described the experience as leaving him "shocked and floored" by the devastation he witnessed.
"Everyone says that television doesn't do it justice and we were able to go in person and see the damage and what a tornado can do," Johnson said Friday at Dover International Speedway. "Man, it really got my attention."
Johnson's wife, Chandra, is a native of Oklahoma and he went there with the help of sponsor Lowe's to distribute items to aid the recovery. One moment in particular that stood out to Johnson was talking with a grade school child who was in school when the tornado struck.
"I met a child that was in one of those schools and I could still see on his face and in his eyes the fear that he had and he still looked like that today.
"It really hits you deep to meet the people, see the damage and some ways kind of imagine in your mind what they went through."
Through his Jimmie Johnson Foundation, the five-time NASCAR champ pledges to contribute to the recovery efforts. He donated his winnings from the Coca-Cola 600 to tornado victims.
As he toured the area, Johnson was stunned by the debris field left in the wake of the F5 twister. He saw multiple cars overturned, beams from demolished buildings and even a refrigerator among the carnage.
But it was the personal items that resonated with Johnson.
"I was looking at a truck that was flipped over and there was a teddy bear sitting next to it," he said. "That really threw it home to me and my child. There were kids in these houses and families ... You're looking at it going, 'wow, look at the power and look at what this did.' And then the human element would come in and take you to your knees."