Jimmie Johnson had said his first response to testing positive for the coronavirus was "anger."
After snapping his streak of 663 consecutive starts and missing his first career race during last week's event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the seven-time Cup Series champion is thrilled he's cleared to get back on the track this weekend, but that doesn't mean he's moved past the emotional toll the virus took on him.
Johnson and his wife, Chani, initially tested positive, though they showed no symptoms beyond what Chani originally believed were seasonal allergies. The confirmed cases led to fears for their safety, fears for the safety of their children and even more fear over having perhaps unknowingly spread the disease.
They still don't know what happened, with Johnson telling the Associated Press he's "frustrated" not to have all the facts after testing negative:
"My first response was just anger. I started cussing and used every cuss word that I knew of, and I think invented a few new ones. It was just so weird—the anger—because I've been asymptomatic. Anger hits. And then speculation in my mind. And then it's, 'Wait a second, there is nothing good that can come of this. No one knows. I don't know. It's just time to move on.'
"Then I got very excited and starting looking at the facts that I've only missed one race. I feel like I am more on the optimistic side of things and out of the dark headspace that I was in and moving in the right direction."
Johnson expects to race at Kentucky on Sunday.
In the meantime, he's been working out on his bike and continuing to stay vigilant with his health.
After meeting the threshold of testing negative twice in 24 hours, NASCAR reinstated the driver on Wednesday.
Even after dealing with a positive test first-hand, Johnson isn't sure how to improve the systems put in place by local, federal and NASCAR officials. As Johnson prepares to finish his final season as a full-time driver before heading into retirement, he's left with numerous questions moving forward.
"I don't know how to add clarity or advice in what changes need to take place," Johnson said. "I unfortunately feel that there's a lot to still be learned in the professional and medical field on this and I, like everyone else, are eagerly awaiting on that instruction and that knowledge, a vaccine, better testing, better screening."