DOVER, Del. -- Five-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson was "shocked and floored" by the devastation he witnessed during a visit Thursday to tornado-ravaged Moore, Okla.
Johnson visited the town to distribute supplies to victims of the May 19-20 Oklahoma tornadoes in which two schools were destroyed and 24 lives were lost. He donated his winnings ($147,791) and Lowe's, the primary sponsor on Johnson's No. 48 Chevrolet, matched it for a total of $295,581 to the relief effort.
"Everyone says that television doesn't do it justice," Johnson said on Friday at Dover International Speedway. "To be able to go in person and see what damage a tornado can do, man, it really got my attention.
"There was a young boy who was in one of those schools. I can still see on his face and in his eyes the fear that he had."
The trip was made in conjunction with Lowe's and the Feed the Children initiative. Johnson was joined by his wife, Chani, who grew up in Muskogee, about 160 miles from Moore.
"I grew up where the ground shook in Southern California and was always petrified of tornadoes," Johnson said. "Marrying Chani and being in the beltway for tornadoes, I'm scared every time we go home to visit."
Johnson said finding a place with an in-ground shelter in which to stay will be a priority the next time he visits the area.
"[I] had to leave yesterday and get out of there as fast as we could because storms were coming," Johnson said. "It was odd, because I'm getting on a plane to fly out and I'm leaving my family behind. They're staying there with Chani's parents this weekend. I'm, 'Oh, my God. I'm so torn. I'm rushing out of here because something bad is coming, but I'm leaving my girls behind.'"
Johnson had to leave for Dover, where he's been extremely successful over the years, so his donated winnings to Moore could be substantial. Since the start of 2009, Johnson has led 1,681 laps at the Monster Mile, more than half the total laps run there in that time, and 1,201 more than any other driver. Johnson is the defending champion, taking home more than $319,000 a year ago, a seven-time winner at the one-mile track and winner of four of the eight races held there since 2009.
Johnson is still trying to decide how his foundation, which typically supports programs for children, will help Moore's recovery. And while his mind will be on getting to Victory Lane this weekend, the images of what he saw on Thursday will stick with him.
"It's multiple levels," Johnson said of the emotional impact the trip had. "You see a debris field and go, 'Wow! That's a car. There's a big beam from a building, and there's a refrigerator.' You see the big items. And then you look and there's a stuffed animal.
"It goes from like, 'Wow, look at that,' to 'there's a stuffed animal ... there's a kid involved.' That kind of brings that human element back in."
Information from ESPN Stats & Information was included in this story.