Skip to content

Jimmie Johnson opens up on off-season hernia surgery

Jun 2, 2014, 11:11 AM EDT

Jimmy Johnson AP

Insisting that folks in the Sprint Cup garage already knew about it, Jimmie Johnson admitted surprise that news of his off-season hernia surgery failed to reach the media until this weekend at Dover International Speedway.

“Everybody at the track knew, all the competitors knew that I wasn’t there because I was having a procedure done,” Johnson said after his second win of the year on Sunday. “Why it didn’t make it to the media center is beyond me, and no big deal, I guess.”

Johnson disclosed that the surgery took place after last December’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Awards in Las Vegas, where he was honored for winning his sixth career Cup championship.

According to him, he had one bilateral hernia on each side and a third one in his belly button.

“It was something over time and getting older that something like 60 percent of men near the age of 40 have these and don’t know,” he explained. “But I saw one mid-season – a little protrusion in my skin – and went and had it checked out, and they’re like, ‘You’ve got a couple years to get it fixed.’ So I figured I’d get it fixed sooner rather than later and went in right after the banquet.”

Per Johnson, the procedure led to the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team missing one off-season test, while inclement weather scratched two more such tests.

He believes all of those factors combined to put his team behind on performance in the early races of 2014.

“First couple days sucked, there’s no doubt about that,” he said of his recovery. “But then quickly it got back together and was training within 10 days. It affected that first test date. And then we had two other test dates scheduled at Nashville that made us comfortable to give us that Charlotte test so I could have the hernia surgery, and both of those were canceled due to weather.

“So three opportunities for us to go test were out the window, and I do feel like that hurt us some and had us behind a little bit, especially once we did get to Nashville and were there and the 4 car [Kevin Harvick/Stewart-Haas Racing] was there testing. We knew we had a gap to make up, and those guys were off to a quick start.”

When asked Johnson’s surgery and its effects going into this season, his crew chief, Chad Knaus, said their battle for the 2013 Cup title with Matt Kenseth and Joe Gibbs Racing was the main factor behind the 48’s initial lack of success this year.

“[The championship] was purely my focus last year and all I was concerned about,” Knaus said. “I didn’t care about anything that we were doing to prepare for 2014. It was the furthest thing in my mind for the last three months of last year.”

Latest Posts
  1. Ricciardo’s first podium in ages comes, like Bourdais’ at Toronto, with a trophy drop

    Jul 27, 2015, 4:51 PM EDT

    RIChunpodium Getty Images

    Good news, Ricciardo made the podium. Bad news, his trophy didn’t survive it.

  2. INDYCAR rescinds minor penalty against Jakes issued at Iowa

    Jul 27, 2015, 4:09 PM EDT

    JakesIowa Getty Images

    Jakes kept his visor down after all on a pit stop in Iowa.

  3. Gabby Chaves’ Honda/HPD Midget adventure (VIDEO)

    Jul 27, 2015, 3:13 PM EDT

    GabbyHeadshot Getty Images

    A quick look back at Chaves’ short track debut.

  4. Fiancee battle: Graham Rahal vs. Courtney Force in a Sonoma skills challenge (VIDEO)

    Jul 27, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    GRcf Getty Images

    Rahal and Force compete against each other in a series of fun challenges at Sonoma.

  5. For Dixon, it’s likely Mid-Ohio or bust in terms of 2015 IndyCar title hopes

    Jul 27, 2015, 11:00 AM EDT

    Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio - Day 3 Getty Images

    If another Dixon Mid-Ohio win happens, it will save his championship chances.

  6. After blowing his chance to cut the gap to Hamilton, Rosberg must now avoid the mistakes of last summer

    Jul 27, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT

    Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's German driver Nico Rosberg walks down the pits during the third practice session at the Hungaroring circuit near Budapest on July 25, 2015, ahead of the  Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix. AFP PHOTO / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC        (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Luke Smith considers the fall-out of a dramatic Hungarian Grand Prix that saw both Mercedes drivers miss an opportunity to seize control of the drivers’ championship.

  7. Booth proud of Manor for honoring Bianchi in Hungary

    Jul 27, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    Manor Marussia F1 team driver Great Britain's Will Stevens has "#JB17" written on his car in tribute to late French Formula One driver Jules Bianchi who died nine months after his crash in the Japan Grand Prix, as he competes during the Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix at the Hungaroring circuit  near Budapest on July 26, 2015. AFP PHOTO / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC        (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Manor makes it through a difficult weekend by getting both of its cars to the finish in Hungary.

  8. Race Recap: Vettel draws level with Senna on all-time win list with victory in Hungary

    Jul 27, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - JULY 26:  Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Ferrari celebrates with the trophy after winning the Formula One Grand Prix of Hungary at Hungaroring on July 26, 2015 in Budapest, Hungary.  (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Vettel storms to his 41st career victory in Hungary as both Mercedes drivers hit trouble.

  9. NHRA Mile-High Nationals winners: Torrence, Beckman, Morgan, Krawiec

    Jul 26, 2015, 11:09 PM EDT

    (Photo courtesy NHRA) (Photo courtesy NHRA)

    Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Jack Beckman (Funny Car), Larry Morgan (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) won in Sunday’s NHRA Mopar Mile-High Nationals.

  10. F1 grid unites to pay tribute to Jules Bianchi (VIDEO)

    Jul 26, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT

    xxxx during the Formula One Grand Prix of Hungary at Hungaroring on July 26, 2015 in Budapest, Hungary. Getty Images

    The F1 grid comes together ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix to pay its respects to Jules Bianchi.

  11. WATCH LIVE: Second of two Red Bull GRC races from Detroit, 4:30 p.m. ET on NBC

    Jul 26, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT

    GRCDaytona Getty Images

    The Red Bull Global Rallycross doubleheader in Detroit concludes with today’s Round 6.

  12. F1 Paddock Pass: Hungarian GP post-race (VIDEO)

    Jul 26, 2015, 3:40 PM EDT

    xxxx during the Formula One Grand Prix of Hungary at Hungaroring on July 26, 2015 in Budapest, Hungary. Getty Images

    Ferrari caps off an emotional weekend with victory at the Hungaroring as Mercedes came unstuck.

  13. Verstappen “unbelievably happy” with fourth in Hungary

    Jul 26, 2015, 3:30 PM EDT

    xxxx during the Formula One Grand Prix of Hungary at Hungaroring on July 26, 2015 in Budapest, Hungary. Getty Images

    Verstappen claims his first top five finish in F1 in Hungary, capping off an impressive first half-season in the sport.

  14. Alonso charges to fifth in Hungary, sending McLaren into summer break on a high

    Jul 26, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT

    McLaren Honda's Spanish driver Fernando Alonso competes during the Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix at the Hungaroring circuit  near Budapest on July 26, 2015.  AFP PHOTO / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC        (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Alonso claims McLaren-Honda first top five finish of the season in Hungary, with Jenson Button also scoring points in P9.

  15. Williams disappointed to leave Hungary without points

    Jul 26, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    Technical staff prepare to change the broken wheel of the car of Williams Martini Racing's Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas  in the pit lane during the Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix at the Hungaroring circuit  near Budapest on July 26, 2015. 
 AFP PHOTO / POOL / RONALD ZAK        (Photo credit should read RONALD ZAK/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    A penalty for Massa and a puncture for Bottas leaves both Williams drivers outside of the points in Hungary.

  16. Rosberg: “Awful feeling” to lose podium and chance to cut gap to Hamilton in Hungary

    Jul 26, 2015, 1:30 PM EDT

    xxxx during the Formula One Grand Prix of Hungary at Hungaroring on July 26, 2015 in Budapest, Hungary. Getty Images

    At one stage, Rosberg had been poised to take the lead of the championship into the summer break, only to lose yet more ground on Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton.

  17. Hamilton escapes one of his “worst races” to extend championship lead in Hungary

    Jul 26, 2015, 12:59 PM EDT

    xxxx during the Formula One Grand Prix of Hungary at Hungaroring on July 26, 2015 in Budapest, Hungary. Getty Images

    A poor start, off-track excursion, collision with Ricciardo and drive-through penalty can’t stop Hamilton from finishing sixth and extending his championship lead.

  18. Hamilton among five drivers handed sanctions following Hungarian GP

    Jul 26, 2015, 12:02 PM EDT

    Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's British driver Lewis Hamilton (L) and Williams Martini Racing's Brazilian driver Felipe Massa compete during the Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix at the Hungaroring circuit  near Budapest on July 26, 2015.  AFP PHOTO / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC        (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    The stewards were kept very busy in Hungary on Sunday.