Sprint Cup - Johnson Kentucky Preview
HUNTERSVILLE, Jun. 27, 2012: It is not a stretch to say that the blue featured on Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet has some championships associated with it. That blue is, of course, the iconic blue associated with primary sponsor Lowe’s. However, there may be some crossover basketball fans who claim otherwise this weekend when the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series visits Kentucky Speedway in Sparta.
That’s because blue is also associated with the University of Kentucky Wildcats, who won the 2012 NCAA men’s national basketball title by defeating the University of Kansas Jayhawks, who are also associated with blue and national championships.Championships aside, race fans, no matter where they are from, will get a chance to see the iconic Lowe’s blue Chevrolet in action at the 1.5-mile tri-oval. This time, however, it’s with a somewhat different look. The base color for Johnson’s car this weekend is called “Dover White” with blue racing stripes. It’s the second in a series of new color combinations for the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet in a tribute to the American muscle car. Johnson ran a “Mountain Green” paint scheme at Kansas in April. These special schemes play off the primary paint schemes for the Lowe’s and Kobalt Tools cars that were inspired by the first-generation Chevy Camaros with racing stripes.
While the new scheme is sure to be popular with the Kentucky-area fans, Johnson is hoping the result is much like the one the Wildcats enjoyed the first Monday in April – a win. It would take him one step closer to one of his goals, winning at every track on the Sprint Cup circuit. Kentucky is one of five tracks where Johnson has failed to visit victory lane. Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International and Homestead-Miami Speedway are the others.
The five-time Sprint Cup champion did come close during the series’ first visit to Kentucky in 2011, when he earned a solid third-place run. He says he is looking forward to his second visit to the “bumpy, rough” track. And while adding to his current run of five top-five finishes in six races or, better yet, a visit to victory lane, if possible, fans of the No. 48 car will have to wait until November to see if the Lowe’s blue turns out to be championship blue once again this year.
Johnson’s Kentucky Sprint Cup Race Notes of Interest:
· Started fifth and finished third in the series’ inaugural visit to Kentucky in 2011.
· Sprint Cup’s second-best driver rating (119.8 average of a possible 150 points).
· Johnson remains fourth in the driver standings after his fifth-place finish last weekend on the road course in Sonoma, Calif. He reduced his points deficit to 25 points behind series leader Matt Kenseth after starting the season at a career-tying low of 37th at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.
News and Notes – Kentucky:
· Johnson will pilot the No. 48 Lowe’s “Dover White” Chevrolet at Kentucky.
Ø Chevrolet owners may have the same color car as the one Johnson is driving at Kentucky. The color “Dover White” was used by Chevrolet for one model year – 1969. The same color was used by Chevrolet from 1971 to 1978 but under the name “Antique White.”
Sixth Annual Jimmie Johnson Foundation Golf Tournament
· The Sixth Annual Jimmie Johnson Foundation Golf Tournament and Dinner Auction held last week in the San Diego area raised more than $650,000. Money raised goes toward funding the Jimmie Johnson Foundation/Lowe’s Toolbox for Education Champions Grants that are awarded to K-12 public schools in the areas where Chandra and Jimmie Johnson grew up (Muskogee, Okla., and the San Diego, Calif., area, respectively) and currently reside (Charlotte, N.C.).
Ø The tournament has raised more than $500,000 each year and has awarded more than $2 million in grants. The tournament also funded construction of four houses for Habitat for Humanity in El Cajon, Calif.
Fans Can See Johnson at Upcoming Races
· Fans celebrating the July 4 weekend at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway can see Johnson on race day. The “48 Experience” includes a fan forum prior to the race on July 7. The adult package is $48, with kids 12 and under only $10. For more information, visit www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com/48.
· The “Jimmie Johnson New Hampshire Motor Speedway Ticket Package” includes two free tickets (one adult, one child) for the events on July 14, the day before the race, as well as two $48 tickets for the LENOX Industrial Tools 301 on July 15, including access to a pre-race question-and-answer session with Johnson. Visit http://bit.ly/KR6gE1l for more information.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, Driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s “Dover White” Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports:
What is the most challenging part about racing at Kentucky?
“Really, how rough the track is. My first laps there from the test session last year when we went, I felt like the bumps were going to make the car lose grip and spin out and be out of control. But there is so much grip there that, even with as rough and as bumpy as it is, you stand on the gas and carry a ton of speed and just bounce around. Those are the things I had to overcome when I got on the track last year.”
Is that what sets it apart from other 1.5-mile tracks?
“Yes. It’s the roughest and fastest track we go to. Well, Atlanta is fast, but there are big swells and I still don’t feel like we’re driving as hard at Atlanta as we are at Kentucky. At Kentucky, you’re driving it like a freshly repaved track. You have high frequency bumps and banking doing weird things. It’s a fun track for those reasons and it has a lot of character to it.”
How do you think the track is going to change from last year to this year?
“Well, the track was already really bumpy and rough. They haven’t resurfaced it or anything and I hope they don’t because we like those types of tracks. I would assume those bumps will get a little bit bigger and the grip will go down just a touch.”