In a blink-and-you-missed it cameo on Superstore, NASCAR champ Jimmie Johnson proved that even professional race car drivers might want to zip down the aisles of a big box store. During last week’s episode, “Election Day,” Johnson was shown racing with a child whom he not-so-kindly cut off, leaving his young companion in the dust.
In a blog post for Entertainment Weekly, Johnson revealed his child actor co-star, Leonardo Negrete, was not only professional, but a tad serious. Luckily, he could take direction and nailed the scene with the famous sports star.
“Leo, the child actor, was hilarious. He was so serious about his role. One of the directors would say, ‘Leo, smile,’ and he would smile on cue – but only then. My scene involved rolling up on this kid who was just putting down the aisle of Cloud 9 in his toy car; I come up in my toy car and cut him off for fun. We messed some stuff up in the process (apologies to the crew who had to pick up all the balls we knocked over!).”
Johnson’s cameo comes just as he’s at the head of the pack in the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup. In analyzing the competition, USA Today quoted Johnson’s teammate, Denny Hamlin, who spoke back in 2013 of Johnson’s dominance in the sport.
“Unfortunately, we’re racing during the Jimmie Johnson era. We’re just unlucky in that sense. I think being out there and racing with him, I can say that I think he’s the best that there ever was. He’s racing against competition that is tougher than this sport’s ever seen.”
Despite his dominance on the NASCAR circuit, Johnson felt some nerves when he arrived on the set of Superstore. He had learned from a previous television cameo that it was a big departure from his day job. The powers-that-be behind the NBC sitcom impressed him, however, by spelling his name right: “Jimmie,” not “Jimmy.” He was rewarded at the end of the day with an In-and-Out burger in his trailer.
On Sunday, Johnson was racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Texas, which was delayed several hours because of rain. Associated Press reported that Johnson started 19th and was already guaranteed a slot in the series championship. He won the last four fall races in the state. Johnson’s Superstore cameo happened as he and teammate Chase Elliott were in Los Angeles to promote the 10-race playoff system in NASCAR.
While the Jimmie Johnson cameo was a highlight of “Election Day,” according to a review by A.V. Club, it was only the second-best “life in a big box store” interstitial, behind the woman who used a polling booth as a changing room. The episode overall was graded A- by the site, which had high praise for the distinct plot lines of Glenn and Dina’s skirting of election fraud, Mateo’s hunt for an “I Voted” sticker to to hide his undocumented status, and Amy and Jonah’s work flirtation that seemed to go a bit deeper than in previous weeks, despite the thorny issues of Amy’s husband and Jonah’s just-revealed new relationship. As A.V. Club noted, the episode was a clever take on the election campaign that did not actually directly reference the real-life contest.
In September, Ben Feldman, who plays Jonah, told Vox as part of a cast interview that he enjoyed the show’s exploration of the experiences of many characters, not just those from privileged backgrounds.
“If you want a show about filthy rich privileged people, there’s a billion of those. If you want a show about aliens that have taken over Earth, there are a million of those, too. I like being connected to what’s going on in the real world.”
Superstore airs Thursday nights on NBC.
[Featured Image by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images]