HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. – It was a long week for the driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet fielded by Hendrick Motorsports in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. And while there was certainly no rest for the wicked after the five-time champion won the Daytona 500 last Sunday, Johnson wouldn’t deny that it was wicked awesome and well worth the chaos that ensued.
Highlights of the week: visits to the Late Show with David Letterman and Good Morning America, cupcake making in Los Angeles, stops in Las Vegas, Dallas and New York, a contract extension with Johnson’s longstanding sponsor, Lowe’s, and a late-night video that went viral with the 48 crew dancing on the front stretch of Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and crew chief Chad Knaus popping wheelies on a dirt bike.
Now, a little rest is in order as Johnson gets back to his day job Friday morning at Phoenix International Raceway. His victory in the Great American Race has him atop the point standings. It’s a precarious hold, but one he looks to keep as he visits the mile oval in the Arizona desert.
Johnson’s record has been strong at Phoenix. He has 12 top-five finishes and 15 top-10s in 19 starts. But, in typical Team 48 fashion, he never wants to stop improving on those finishes. In fact, Johnson is slated for double duty in the No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet fielded by JR Motorsports in Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race.
Rest may have been at a premium after winning the sport’s premiere event, but there were enough awesome perks that Johnson is sure to say it was a wicked good time.
Driver, Team and Sponsor Notes
Hendrick Motorports and Lowe’s signed a two-year contract extension securing the full-season primary sponsorship of the No. 48 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team and five-time series champion Jimmie Johnson in 2014 and 2015.
Following his second career Daytona 500 win Sunday, Johnson went on a whirlwind tour organized by NASCAR that included stops in eight cities over four days.
Monday – Daytona 500 Champion’s Breakfast at the Daytona International Speedway Tours and Tickets office; flew to Charlotte for “car wash” at SPEED; flew to ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn., for another “car wash,” which included co-hosting a half hour of the evening SportsCenter broadcast. Radio interviews with The Jim Rome Show and The Dan Patrick Show. Ended the evening by flying to New York City in preparation for Tuesday’s media.
Tuesday – Started the day with an appearance on Good Morning America, followed by appearances on Morning Express with Robin Meade, CNN, Fox Business and the Late Show with David Letterman. Also visited the SiriusXM studios, where he joined several shows including a guest-hosting spot on The Spectrum. The appearance included Johnson picking some of his favorite songs from artists such as Jack Johnson, Neil Young, Avett Brothers and Mumford and Sons. The guest DJ session is scheduled to air Friday at 10 p.m. EST and will be rebroadcast at noon Saturday and 6 p.m. Sunday. Also talked with the Huffington Post, TMZ (not scheduled) and Fox Sports’ Jay Mohr Sports. Participated in the NASCAR media teleconference, as well as an online chat through Reddit called Ask Me Anything. Ended the day by flying to Dallas.
Wednesday – Attended a fan event for Texas Motor Speedway, which included media interviews with the local market. Then flew to Los Angeles for an event for Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. Ended the evening in Las Vegas with more than 5,000 Lowe’s store managers at the Lowe’s National Sales Meeting.
Thursday – Left Las Vegas and flew back to Los Angeles to conduct more media interviews, among them, Fox Sports’ Erin Andrews, and Good Day L.A. Johnson is scheduled at a Thursday-evening event in Phoenix hosted by the track and is then scheduled to drop the puck at the Phoenix Coyotes hockey game, where he was to appear in the game broadcast. He then was scheduled to go to the racetrack, where he is expected to promptly collapse and get some sleep in preparation for a weekend of Nationwide and Sprint Cup racing.
Johnson will drive the No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet fielded by JR Motorsports in Saturday’s Nationwide Series race at Phoenix. This is the second time he has driven for the organization owned by his teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. He finished second at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International in 2011. Knaus will call the race this weekend for Johnson.
Johnson’s Phoenix International Raceway Quick Stats:
Johnson has four wins at Phoenix International Raceway, including a sweep of both 2008 events, and one pole.
His most recent win came in November 2009. The win helped pave the way for his record-setting fourth consecutive championship.
Johnson has earned 12 top-five finishes and 15 top-10s in 19 starts.
His average start is 13.0 and average finish is 6.7. He has completed 5,966 of 6,005 laps (99.99 percent) and led 931 of them.
He has finished every race in which he’s competed at the mile oval.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, Driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS for Hendrick Motorsports:
Assess the start to the season and how do you see the No. 48 team over the course of the next few races? “Definitely a great start for the team. When we were sitting discussing things before the season started, we felt good about the 500, but we’re really excited for everything after the 500. So, very hopeful and excited that our No. 48 car will be really fast in Phoenix, Vegas, moving forward. I think it’s going to be a very strong year for us.”
How is the new track configuration, and will anything be different this time around? “I expect each time we go back that the groove will get a little wider. That just comes with age. The more the track ages, the more character it will get. It’s a great track and the reconfiguration is good. It just takes a little while once a track is repaved for things to start to age and the grooves to come in and the racing kind of evolves. We started to see it last year and I expect more of it again this time around.”
Why are you running the Nationwide race for Junior Motorsports in the No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet? “Honestly, we race at Phoenix twice a year and, the second time we come here, it’s typically been a pretty important race for us. With this new configuration, it couldn’t hurt to get a little more track time. I joked earlier that I don’t have the best Nationwide record. I just hope I don’t disappoint my team owner. He might not have me back.”