Johnson a champ on and off track

Ask around and people will tell you Jimmie Johnson is the real deal, whether it's on the track as a three-time Cup champion or off it as a longtime friend, writes Marty Smith.

Updated: February 13, 2009, 10:35 PM ET
By Marty Smith | ESPN.com

It is a balmy Monday in February in South Florida, and a group of friends has descended upon a swanky Palm Beach residence to relax by the pool with some drinks and a game of full-contact charades -- guys against girls. Among them is Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, whose acting skill leaves plenty to be desired.

Wearing a polo shirt and glorified pajama pants, flip-flops and a three-month shadow, he is trying desperately to persuade the others to scream "Free Willy!" His wife, ...

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