With the season over, two of NASCAR’s top pilots found some time yesterday to enjoy another Sunday tradition.
Six-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson was entrusted with an important pre-game role for the Carolina Panthers in their tilt yesterday with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Panthers’ motto is “Keep Pounding,” which dates back to an emotional speech from Panthers defensive coach and ex-linebacker Sam Mills to his players before a 2004 playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys.
The speech took place while Mills was battling intestinal cancer. He succumbed to the disease in 2005 at the age of 45, but his message endures.
It’s represented in the Panthers’ various cancer research initiatives, and before every Panthers game, a honorary drummer beats a large drum with the “Keep Pounding” name on it four times (signifying the four quarters of a game).
Yesterday, the honor went to Johnson:
Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne was cheering on his Seattle Seahawks as they dueled with the San Francisco 49ers.
The ‘Hawks ultimately won the NFC West battle at CenturyLink Field, and afterwards, Kahne and his crew met up with quarterback Russell Wilson to celebrate.