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Continued: Car won't start, but Jimmie Johnson delivers during visit to school kids in his hometown

  • Article by: BERNIE WILSON , AP Sports Writer
  • Last update: June 18, 2013 - 7:20 PM

"It's so important, as we all know. As time goes on, physical education, the arts, these things start falling off the table due to budget constraints," Johnson said. "I'm happy to see that a lot of the grant requests that come in to us are around the arts and around physical education and we're trying to support those. There's such a void in public schools right now and we're just happy to make a difference. I love kids. It makes me smile from the inside out when I'm around kids, even at the race track or here at the school. They're so innocent, so honest, and I'm still a big kid at heart, too, so I really enjoy my time around kids."

Johnson had a modest upbringing in El Cajon and nearby Crest. His mother drove a school bus and his father operated heavy equipment. His dad worked in the racing community, which led to the son getting his start.

"It's nice to come back. I'm awfully close to home. I can kind of see the hill I grew up on just off there in the distance so it's really neat to come back," he said.

Johnson, who has a car dealership in San Diego, said he was a good student at Granite Hills High in El Cajon.

"I didn't get into a lot of trouble. The big carrot for me was racing. My parents were very smart, and my sponsors were, too, and I had to maintain a B average for school to have my outlet."

While in the San Diego area, Johnson will host the big fundraiser for his foundation, a dinner and auction on Wednesday night and his seventh-annual golf tournament on Thursday.

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