Nearly a week after the death of his brother-in-law in a skydiving accident, Jimmie Johnson spoke publically Friday at Texas Motor Speedway. The six-time Sprint Cup champion offered his gratitude for the outpouring of support he and his family have received since Sunday's accident in San Diego County.
"It's been so tough for me to sit back and watch the people I love so much deal with so much pain," Johnson said. "But, things are progressing and everybody is as good as you could hope. Last night, the family spent a lot of time telling stories about Jordan and smiling a little bit; smiling more than tears, and the healing process has definitely started."
Jordan Janway, 27, was a skydiving instructor with more than 1,000 jumps, according to San Diego media reports. He was killed when he and another skydiver collided in midair, knocking Janway unconscious and unable to deploy his parachute. The other jumper was uninjured.
Janway was the younger brother of Johnson's wife, Chandra. Johnson described Janway as a "free-spirit," someone who loved cliff diving and parachuting.
"It was a tragic death for sure," Johnson said. "But he was doing something he loved. He was very passionate about it. And he never met a stranger. He was a very warm and caring young man and he's definitely going to be missed."
Johnson enters Texas without a win this season, but did win at the 1.5-mile track last fall. And now that he has spoken about Janway's death, Johnson hopes to focus solely on winning Sunday's Duck Commander 500. As for any special tributes on the No. 48 car, that has yet to be determined.
"I haven't thought that far ahead for the car or helmet or anything," Johnson said. "It's been such a wild and crazy week. So now that my mind is going to switch into race mode I'd certainly consider something there and take a look at it."