10:39 PM EDT, July 29, 2012
SPEEDWAY - A futile effort was underway not long after he put his knees on the purple pillows.
Looking down at the row of bricks following his fourth victory at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Jimmie Johnson wanted to make sure this would truly be a unique kiss.
Between the driver and his wife Chandra was the couple's two-year old daughter Genevieve, who they hoped would join them in giving a smooch to the most famous start/finish line in all of motorsports.
But kiss after kiss, sporting a different sponsor hat each time, ovatures from the couple produced constant refusals from Genevieve-who would get only part of the way down before saying no.
"She's a very cautious girl," said Johnson of his first child. "Maybe another few photos she would have warmed up to it, but she wasn't into it."
In the end, it was the only thing that the driver didn't have control of during 400 laps to remember.
Johnson held the lead for 99 out of the 160 laps that encompassed the 19th running of the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at the venue, capturing his fourth career victory in Indianapolis.
"I'm able to join racing legends, my heroes, people I've looked up to my entire life, so to join them is a huge, huge honor," said Johnson of winning a fourth race.
It puts him with teammate Jeff Gordon, Indianapolis 500winners AJ Foyt, Al Unserand Rick Mears along with Formula One's Michael Schumacher as those with a quartet of victories. Joining that club wasn't much of a question in one of the more dominant performances in the race's history.
Johnson grabbed the lead at multiple points in the race and often pulled out to a 2-3 second lead when he did. When he got it back with 29 laps to go, the No. 48 never let it get close, opening up his lead over Kyle Busch to nearly five seconds before crossing the bricks for the victory.
When asked afterwords about the dominance, Johnson said it had to do somewhat with Jeff Gordon and Brad Keselowski being towards the back of the top ten.
"Jimmie said it was the best car he'd ever had here, and I've seen him put on quite a show here before," said team owner Rick Hendrick of the No. 48.
A magic car indeed brought the magic number for wins at the speedway for Johnson. Most historically significant is the fact that he joins Mears in that category for wins in Indianapolis. Growing up in California, Johnson has often mentioned Mears as an idol and inspiration for him starting his own racing career.
"I do remember watching television trying to watch him race, and I remember his fire out here on the front stretch," said Johnson of Mears. "I remember a few of his wins. It's cool to be here on this track doing the same thing."
From crossing the finish first to kissing the bricks-even if all didn't want to participate.