Last night, three different worlds of auto racing came together on NBC's Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
Fallon, who gave the command to start the July 2009 race at Chicagoland Speedway, had former NASCAR and current IRL driver Dario Franchitti's wife Ashley Judd along with four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson on his late-night program.
Judd kindly reminded Fallon that Franchitti drove IRL, not F1 when he got the two confused and also played a funny clip of Franchitti cheating at a milk-chugging game when he appeared on the show recently. Johnson called Franchitti's move “innovative.”
Johnson and Judd both laughed at Fallon on his lack of knowledge of racing when Johnson discussed his upcoming participation in the Rolex 24, which Franchitti will also be in.
Fallon joked about Jeff Gordon making him nervous to give the command at the LifeLock.com 400, which was then played in the studio. Johnson let Fallon know that, despite anything Gordon may have said after the race, the drivers usually can't hear the command because they're inside their cars preparing for the race.
Fallon was relieved—and laughed.
Laughter was then combined with high-fives between Johnson and Fallon when Johnson said his car was bigger than Franchitti's, although he did explain the difference between the cars. Although Johnson's is bigger, Franchitti's is faster.
Fallon didn't care. He high-fived him for having the bigger car. Several times!
Fallon seriously noted Johnson is very media-friendly and jokingly brought out pictures of former drivers Buck Baker, Fonty Flock, and Red Byron as examples of those that might not have been so television-friendly in today's age.
This brought up the discussion of NASCAR drivers in the media, the fans that follow them, and how serious they are, including a fan that tattooed the No. 48 car on his neck.
Johnson also discussed his upcoming HBO 24/7 Road to Daytona series, which was actually filming the appearance, and will begin its four-episode run Jan. 26, as well as the upcoming birth of his first child.
The three of them—the fan, the wife, and the driver—then took to mini go-karts for a two lap race around the studio.
Judd was totally into the race and said, “I had two instructions from my husband. One was don't wear that dorky suit and two was take Jimmie Johnson OUT!”
Judd, who had changed into workout clothes while Fallon was in the bright yellow firesuit, took an early lead. Johnson tried to cause Fallon's kart to slip and slide by throwing items towards his direction.
As Judd was ready to cross the finish line, she slowed to wait for Johnson so she wouldn't completely demolish him. Johnson crashed Judd into the stage after finishing the race, followed by Fallon. Then all three crashed into the stage.
It was nice to see the camaraderie between Judd and Johnson, who even talked in “race code” to confuse Fallon (phrases like “going wide” and “full throttle” made his head spin).
It is not often we get to see a wife of a racer in their own interview, nevertheless interacting with a driver that isn't their husband. It was also nice to see a driver relaxed and having some fun, despite knowing their life is about to get crazy as can be, both personally and professionally.
For clips of the show, visit the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon website .