HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. – Jimmie Johnson enters the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series weekend at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth as the defending winner – from the pole position – on the heels of last weekend’s race win at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway – also from the pole position. Johnson is first in the driver standings, six points ahead of second-place Brad Keselowski.
Another first from first this weekend would certainly add to a season that has already produced the latest handful of career highlights for Johnson, who started the year with his second victory in the Daytona 500, the sport’s biggest race. And after Sunday’s win at Martinsville, he may need to take out a deed on the track as he now owns the record for most wins among active drivers at the .526- mile oval.
Texas has been good to the five-time Sprint Cup champion. He owns the sport’s second-best driver rating at the 1.5-mile oval (103.5 average of a possible 150 points) and has two wins (November 2012 and 2007). However, the track has certainly produced its share of drama for Johnson and Team Lowe’s Racing. A lap-three accident in 2009 nearly took him out of the running for the championship but was averted thanks to an incredible repair job by the No. 48 crew to get him back on track and on his way to the title. Last year’s dramatic battle to the finish with Keselowski provided a thrilling end to Johnson’s race win, but Keselowski eventually won the championship trophy two weeks later.
There’s sure to be more drama in this weekend’s 334-lap event as everything is big in Texas, as the saying goes. Johnson and his team just hope the drama is another first from first that leaves him in first place in the standings.
Johnson’s Texas Quick Stats:
Two wins (November 2012 and 2007) in 19 starts.
One pole (November 2012).
Nine top-five finishes (47.4 percent) and 14 top-10s (73.7 percent) in 19 starts.
Average start is 8.8 and average finish is 9.3.
One DNF (Did Not Finish) – April 2007.
Has completed 6,153 of 6,357 laps (96.8 percent) and led 443.
Sprint Cup’s second-best driver rating (103.5 average of a possible 150 points).
Sprint Cup’s second-best in fastest laps run (370).
Driver, Team and Sponsor Notes
Jimmie Johnson will drive the Lowe’s “Dover White” Chevrolet SS at Texas. He last raced the paint scheme at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in August. It is part of the special racing-striped paint schemes that are a tribute to the American muscle car.
The color “Dover White” was used by Chevrolet for one model year in 1969.
Jimmie Johnson will draw the first two charities Friday for the Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope at Texas.
This year’s campaign runs during six Sprint Cup race weekends, beginning this weekend at Texas and culminating May 26 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.
Johnson draws two charities each week to be included on the helmet, for a total of 13 charities. (At the kick-off announcement, Make-A-Wish Iowa was selected as the first charity.)
The Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope program, which began in 2008, allows fans, consumers and media members across the country to nominate their favorite charity to receive a $10,000 grant, a Blue Bunny ice cream party, and special recognition on Johnson’s race helmet. Nominations are currently being accepted at www.HelmetOfHope.org.
To date, the program has contributed more than $430,000 to 61 different charities.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, Driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s “Dover White” Chevrolet SS for Hendrick Motorsports:
Do you feel good about where you are going into Texas? “Yeah, I feel good about it. We ran really well at Vegas, and California didn’t go as well as we wanted, but it’s a much different racetrack than what we have at Texas. I would say that Texas and Vegas are closer together than Texas and California. We’ll go there and see. We’re still learning this car on the big tracks. At Fontana, we were certainly trying some things, and are smarter leaving there, and I know that these guys will work hard and give me a great car this coming race.”
How does Texas rank for you compared to the other 1.5-mile tracks? “Well, the surface is a little bit older than places like Charlotte, Michigan and Kansas. I think you will see a lot of four-tire calls and that could make a difference in the race. It’s a fast track and it’s going to be challenging to keep the car underneath you and not get yourself in trouble. I really like the track. I think it’s really going to be another great race.”