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Jimmie Johnson Returns To Track Mourning Brother-In-Law

Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

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FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) – Jimmie Johnson returned to the race track Friday still mourning the loss of his brother-in-law in a California skydiving accident.

Jordan Janway died Sunday in San Diego County after apparently colliding with another parachutist during freefall, and then failing to open his parachute.

Janway was the 27-year-old brother of Johnson’s wife, Chandra.

“This week has been very difficult for the Janway family. It’s been so tough for myself to sit back and watch the people I love deal with so much pain,” Johnson said at Texas Motor Speedway. “Things are progressing and everybody is as good as you can hope. Last night, the family spent a lot of time telling stories about Jordan, and smiling a little bit, smiling instead of tears. The healing process has definitely started.”

The six-time champion opened his weekly media availability by thanking those who have reached out via various means to offer support since Monday, when Janway’s death was confirmed.

“I just wanted to come in and make a brief comment before we got busy racing, and then try to switch my mind into this racing reality and focus the next couple days on going racing and just go try to win a race,” he said.

Johnson had not had any time to consider running a tribute decal on his No. 48 Chevrolet or helmet, but said now that’s he’s at the track, he can consider a proper way to honor the free-spirited Janway.

“He was a very adventurous guy — base-jumping and parachuting and wearing the squirrel suits, like you see the guys flying along the cliff sides, that’s what he did,” Johnson said. “He’s in a lot of those videos shooting that footage. Tragic death, for sure. But he was doing something he loved. He was very passionate about it. Never met a stranger, very warm, caring young man.”

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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