HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. – “Don’t give us none of your aggravation. We had it with your discipline. Saturday night’s all right for fighting, going to get a little action in.” The lyrics of “Saturday Night’s Alright” by legendary singer-songwriter Elton John provides a somewhat fitting preview of five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson and Team Lowe’s Racing’s fortunes at Richmond (Va.) International Speedway – a lot of aggravation and plenty of action.
Despite the fact that Johnson has three wins – September 2008 and April and September 2007 – at the three-quarter-mile D-shaped oval, it is one of his worst tracks on the circuit in driver rating, a NASCAR statistic that combines several key categories to determine a driver’s ranking. Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway is the only track where Johnson ranks worse.
Johnson also notes that while the April night races typically don’t favor Team Lowe’s Racing, their fortunes have turned somewhat in the last three spring events with three top-10 finishes. That doesn’t guarantee a good finish, but it is typical of the No. 48 team’s “Never stop improving” attitude on tracks that prove to be a little bit more of a challenge for them.
So while there is sure to be some aggravation and action at the tight .75-mile Richmond layout for Johnson and the other 42 other drivers, one thing is for sure – “Five-Time” will never stop fighting Saturday night to make it back to victory lane.
Johnson’s Richmond Quick Stats:
Three wins (September 2008 and April and September 2007) in 22 starts.
Two poles (September 2007 and 2002).
Five top-five finishes (22.7 percent) and eight top-10s (36.4 percent) in 22 starts.
Completed 8,297 of 8,803 laps (94.3 percent) and led 417.
Average start is 12.0 and average finish is 16.5.
One DNF (did not finish) – April 2005.
Sprint Cup’s ninth-best driver rating (90.4 average of a possible 150 points).
Richmond is Johnson’s second-worst track in driver rating, ahead of only Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.
Driver, Team and Sponsor Notes
Jimmie Johnson will drive the Lowe’s “Dover White” Chevrolet SS at Richmond. He last raced the paint scheme April 13 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. 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 for two more charities for the Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope program Friday at Kansas. Four charities – Against Abuse, Inc., Cincinnati Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Chelsea’s Hope and Me Fine Foundation – have been selected, so far.
This year’s campaign runs during six Sprint Cup race weekends. It began April 12 at Texas Motor Speedway and culminates 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:
Talk about racing at Richmond. “It’s a night race and we have struggled in night races at Richmond. The day races are usually good. So, if it rains out and we race on Sunday, I’m optimistic. Seriously, we’ve had a top-five car there the past few times, so I’d say we are holding our own there, now.”
Talk about your position in the points. “I’m proud of everyone at Hendrick Motorsports. Everyone has been performing well. I was a little surprised when I heard after the Kansas race what our gap was. But we have had a good year even with a little trouble at some tracks like Bristol. So, 37 points up on second place is pretty awesome. But there is a lot of racing left, even this weekend with Richmond. Anything can happen and that lead can go away quickly.”