This week was already emotional for five time Sprint Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson. I mean it was emotional for everyone, the photos from Boston were both chilling and heartbreaking. But Johnson had a personal connection to the events, he had met one of the runners who was injured in Monday's bombing, Nicole Gross.
"I think everyone dealt with grief and sadness and shock," said Johnson. "She's a swim coach and works with a lot of people. That hit home for me, I was like wow I know who that is."
But as the story continued its bizarre and tragic twists and turns, it became even more personal for Johnson and his Hendrick Motorsports teammates. The MIT police officer that was killed, reportedly by the suspects, was the brother of an employee of the Hendrick Motorsports engine shop.
“In the last three hours, it has gone to a new level knowing a fellow teammate is directly involved with what took place in Boston,” said Johnson.
But of course, you didn't have to know a victim for this to hit close to home. NASCAR team owner Michael Waltrip ran in the Boston Marathon in 2000 and the cars that he owns, including the one driven by Kansas Native Clint Bowyer will carry a special paint scheme in honor of the victims of Monday's bombing.
"Just obviously remembering and saying we are thinking about you," said Bowyer. "We are all in this together in this country, and its been a sad week for all of us."
Bowyer says the days and weeks events are always on the drivers mind and it sometimes makes it hard to focus. He says Twitter actually had helped him stay connected with a busy schedule that doesn't always allow him to be in front of a TV.
"I mean this is my day job," said Bowyer. "If someone is going to work at the sales counter they are thinking about it, you can't help not think about it. It's just been a very tragic week."
Many drivers are honoring victims with special stickers or paint schemes including Stewart Haas Racing and Swan Racing. Roush Fenway Racing (yes the Boston Fenway group) has "B" strong stickers on their cars.
"I think it’s a little early to put all of the events that are going on in Boston in perspective," said Carl Edwards, who drives one of those Roush Fenway Fords. "I still can’t quite grasp what’s gone on and what all of the consequences of all of it are.
For my personal biggest concern today to be able to come to the race track and worry about qualifying a race car when other people are worried about losing their loved ones, we are very, very fortunate and I think it reminds me that every day you’ve got to thank a higher power that things are good for you and going well."