New Cup champ Johnson visits ‘The Dan Patrick Show’ (VIDEO)

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Fresh off of claiming his sixth Sprint Cup championship, a somewhat sleep-deprived Jimmie Johnson began his whirlwind media tour through New York City with a stop this morning on DirecTV and NBCSN’s “The Dan Patrick Show.”

Johnson, who won the title by 19 points over Matt Kenseth thanks to a ninth-place finish in Sunday’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, indicated to Patrick that he was still in shock over his latest Cup crown – a thought that he tried hard not to think about as the season headed for its conclusion.

“It’s been a wild ride,” Johnson said. “I can’t believe it’s happened. For months, I’ve pushed this notion out of my mind and didn’t want to let it in, and now, I’ve got to open up my mind and let it in.”

With his sixth title in hand, the Hendrick Motorsports driver is now just one title away from equaling seven-time Cup champions Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt.

Last night at Homestead, Johnson tried to stay out of the conversation over who is the best NASCAR driver of all time and said that the argument would truly begin when he hung up his helmet.

This morning, he continued to take that tack in his conversation with Patrick while additionally noting that he doesn’t know how he would’ve fared head-to-head against Petty and Earnhardt in their respective eras.

“They’re both extremely talented and dominated their eras and time,” Johnson said of The King and The Intimidator.

But in addition to being part of that racing-centric debate, Johnson and his achievements are now being stacked up against decorated champions from other sports, such as Michael Jordan in basketball and Joe Montana in football.

When Patrick asked Johnson about how his domination in racing compares to his stick-and-ball counterparts, Johnson chose to look at the similarities between the two sides.

“There are some elements that are similar but are hard to see,” Johnson said. “We do have that one-on-one battle that takes place between drivers on track, and there are things we can definitely do in the race car from a little physical contact, just getting into someone’s head and racing them real hard in getting by.

“But in the end, the win total is really what does it and also, those championships. There are some similarities if you dig in and think about it some. It’s there for sure.”

MRTI: Keith Donegan earns Mazda Shootout Scholarship

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Dublin, Ireland’s Keith Donegan claimed a $200K scholarship from Mazda after emerging victorious at the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. The 20-year-old Donegan earned an at-large nomination for the scholarship based on his performance at this year’s Formula Ford Festival, in which he finished second in the final, and emerged from a pack of 17 drivers from across the globe to claim the scholarship.

“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said an emotional Donegan, who earlier in his career actually spent two years away from racing as he focused on academics. “The weekend was really good and I enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Mazda and Cooper Tires and everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy. I enjoyed every moment. Throughout the weekend we were consistent and I kept the small things in check. I didn’t make any stupid mistakes and kept my head cool and that really paid off in the end.”

The two-day shootout was held at the Bondurant Racing School in Arizona and saw the nominated drivers tackle the school’s 1.6-mile circuit in Formula Mazda race cars before facing on and off-track assessments. Donegan was selected by a panel of judges that included former driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series TV analyst Scott Goodyear, Mazda drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, and Jonathan Bomarito, as well as Victor Franzoni – the current champion of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – and Oliver Askew, the current champion of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.

Donegan was humbled to be in the presence of drivers who have won scholarships and championships previously, and added that he is grateful to have the opportunity to continue his racing career.

“You see all these champions here today that will go on to great things in the future and I’m sure the names you see here today aren’t going to disappear,” Donegan added. “They will be back up there and I’m sure I will be racing them again some day. It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given and for Mazda to provide that for any young driver. It just gives that bit of motivation that you need because the [U.S.] is where you need to go to become a professional these days. It is such a boost to my career.”

Donegan is now slated to join the 2018 USF2000 championship, with further announcements regarding the team with whom he’ll be racing to come in the future.

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