At the race in February at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Jimmie Johnson started 18th and quickly moved into contention. He finished ninth and seventh in the first two stages and a two-tire stop gamble by crew chief Cliff Daniels saw Johnson finish the event in fifth place, recording his seventh top-five at the racetrack on the outskirts of “Sin City.”
LEADING THE PACK: As Johnson heads to Las Vegas for the final time in his NASCAR Cup Series career, he leads all current drivers with most wins at the 1.5-mile track with four. One of the most iconic races Johnson won at Vegas was the coveted 150th cup win for Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick. Once Johnson secured the checkered flag, all four Hendrick Motorsports teams and drivers went to the flamboyant victory lane to celebrate with Johnson and then-crew chief Chad Knaus. The duo posed with heavyweight belts, which was the track trophy at the time, and traditional Vegas showgirls.
A RIDE FIT FOR A ‘COUNT’: Ally Racing recently brought together Johnson, NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon and Las Vegas-based custom car personality Danny “The Count” Koker to share in their love for racing, music and cars. Koker, creator of the show “Counting Cars,” and Johnson filmed a four-episode content series showcasing the legends discussing car design and livery of the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet for the Las Vegas Motor Speedway event. The car was unveiled this week and Johnson will sport a Count Kustoms decal as a thank you to Koker. For more information and to watch the weekly episodes, go to AllyRacing.com.
BRISTOL HONORS JJ: Last weekend, Bristol Motor Speedway recognized the historic accomplishments Johnson, a winner of two Food City 500s at “The Last Great Colosseum,” with a 5K trail surrounding BMS property named in his honor. The “JJ 5K Trail at Bristol Motor Speedway,” located on the track property, is a 3.2-mile course and marked trail that highlights Johnson’s career accomplishments at Bristol and in the NASCAR Cup Series. It will open in 2021 and be available to all guests who are attending events at the iconic Northeast Tennessee venue. In addition to the trail, the track, in partnership with Trek (bicycles) and Food City, will also donate 48 bicycles in Johnson’s honor to children through Santa Pal in Bristol, Virginia, and other charities that receive support from BMS’ chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities. Johnson met with track president Jerry Caldwell before the race on Saturday to accept the honor.
HONORING A CANCER HERO: In conjunction with the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation, the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet will have a “Cancer Hero” whose name will ride along with Johnson on Sunday at Las Vegas. Rajean Lowenstein lived in Casselberry, Florida, and was nominated by her sister, Nida Diekmann. Lowenstein, a mother of four children, was diagnosed with brain cancer in 1994. She fought and survived for 13 years before passing away in 2007 at the age of 46. Diekmann described her sister as her hero and said, “She won the fight, cancer didn’t win. She accomplished what she wanted and, for that, she will forever be my hero.” Lowenstein battled hard and was able to see all four children graduate before she passed.
PIT CREW REMAINS STRONG: Heading into the 30th race of the 2020 season, the No. 48 pit crew are some of the top performers on pit road. The crew, consisting of veterans Calvin Teague, Brandon Harder and Kyle Tudor as well as Allen Stallings and Donnie Tasser, has averaged a 14.34 on pit road, which ranks 10th among all teams in the NASCAR Cup Series. Led by pit coach Jon Carvin, the No. 48 crew also pits for Justin Allgaier in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, who currently is third in the point standings with three wins this season.
Driver Jimmie Johnson on his favorite Las Vegas memories:
“Las Vegas has always been a great place to race. I have had some highs and lows there – which is fitting since it’s the gambling capital of the world. Winning the 150th for Hendrick Motorsports was one of the best memories over the years. I love to go out there and cycle on a Saturday afternoon and there are so many great places to experience the area close by the track. We didn’t have anything go our way last weekend in Bristol. It’s frustrating, but we have to stay optimistic. I feel in my heart we can win one of these last races. We just need some luck.”