Jimmie Johnson ditches vanilla label during IndyCar debut

FILE - Jimmie Johnson speaks about joining the team of Chip Ganassi for the IndyCar series at a press conference during the IndyCar race weekend in St. Petersburg, Fla., in this Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, file photo. Jimmie Johnson, with wisps of gray in his beard, is a 45-year-old rookie in the IndyCar Series ready to reintroduce himself. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson, File)
FILE - Jimmie Johnson speaks about joining the team of Chip Ganassi for the IndyCar series at a press conference during the IndyCar race weekend in St. Petersburg, Fla., in this Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, file photo. Jimmie Johnson, with wisps of gray in his beard, is a 45-year-old rookie in the IndyCar Series ready to reintroduce himself. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson, File) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Jimmie Johnson, with wisps of gray in his beard, is a 45-year-old rookie in the IndyCar Series ready to reintroduce himself.

He's a windbag, a craft-o-maniac, a guy who goes, is really into eggs and keeps things fresh.

Those are just some of the labels Carvana has tagged Johnson with in a series of seven spots highlighting the online car dealer's first partnership with a professional athlete. The seven-time NASCAR champion begins his official transition to IndyCar this weekend with Sunday's season opening race at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama with three ads debuting during the NBC broadcast.

This won't be the vanilla version of Johnson fans became accustomed to during 19 Cup Series seasons driving for buttoned-up Hendrick Motorsports. Those who know Johnson away from his day job have always decried his image, insisting he's actually a hard-partying daredevil who never shies away from a bad idea.

Carvana, which is new to motorsports with its Johnson sponsorship and has a light sports marketing portfolio, decided to use Johnson's true personality in making its ad campaign for the IndyCar season. It hired The Malloy Brothers for the spots and Johnson already knew both Brendan Malloy and Emmett Malloy through other connections.

He was comfortable when the Malloys came to him about using a laxative to demonstrate how quickly Carvana can complete a car sale, or eating seven hard-boiled eggs for the seven-day test it out policy. Johnson even bedazzled a pair of jeans to demonstrate personalized financing options.

So who is this loose and easy-going Johnson? Same guy he always was.

“You know, this is just what I've figured in my own head and I've got nothing to back it up, but I've given people a reason to hate me for so many years, right?” Johnson said in an interview with The Associated Press.