Jimmie Johnson excels at driving fast around NASCAR tracks but there was something that slowed him down earlier this week.
Johnson had a mole on his right shoulder that was changing shape, a tell-tale sign that he had developed a form of skin cancer.
Johnson was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma and on Monday he underwent a four-hour procedure to have the cancerous tumor removed.
The bright side is Johnson didn’t have melanoma, the dreaded form of skin cancer that spreads throughout the body.
“Carcinoma doesn’t spread. It doesn’t go to the glands,” Johnson told reporters Friday at Pocono Raceway prior to this Sunday’s Pocono 400. “They just have to dig it out and you’re good to go. Once I understood that, my reaction to the ‘C’ word calmed down.”
Johnson grew up in a suburb of San Diego and was always outdoors in the sun. Too many times he suffered skin damage from the sun and at age 41, he received a hard lesson about the effects.
“I could vividly remember a lot of sunburns,” Johnson said. “That sun exposure on a mole, there’s just consequences.”
Johnson received 22 stitches to close the wound and went out for a bike ride on Wednesday and a run on Thursday. He said he won’t be hampered on race day.
“I’m not thinking about it,” Johnson said. “I have full movement and I’m ready to get on the race track.”
Johnson won last week’s race at Dover International Speedway for his 83rd career NASCAR win, which ties for sixth all-time with Cale Yarborough. His next victory will move him into a tie for fourth place with Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison.