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JIMMIE JOHNSON DARLINGTON RACE PREVIEW
PAINT SCHEME: Kobalt
VENUE: Darlington Raceway (1.366-mile oval) in Darlington, S.C.
EVENT: 8 of 36
POINTS POSITION: 7th
TUNE IN: Saturday, April 12 at 6 p.m. on FOX/ MRN Radio
SEASON-TO-DATE: Jimmie Johnson leads all drivers this season with 493 laps led. The driver of the No. 48 Kobalt Chevrolet SS has the second-best driver rating, with a score of 106.6 after seven NASCAR Sprint Cup events this season.
AT DARLINGTON: In 15 Cup starts at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, Johnson has three wins, eight top-five finishes and 11 top-10s. He has an average finish of 8.8, which ranks second-best among active competitors at the 1.366-mile oval. Most recently, Johnson started second and finished fourth in the May 2013 Darlington event. Johnson scored the 200th win for owner Rick Hendrick on May 12, 2012, after leading 134 laps en route to Victory Lane at Darlington.
LOOP DATA: Johnson has the Cup Series’ fourth-best average running position (9.9) during the past nine years at Darlington, according to NASCAR’s loop data statistics. He also ranks fourth with 316 laps led during that timeframe at the 1.366-mile oval.
DRIVER RATING: Johnson has the fourth-highest driver rating at Darlington with a score of 107.5 during the past nine years. The driver rating is a formula that combines wins, top-15 finishes, average running position while on the lead lap, average speed under green, fastest lap, most laps led and lead-lap finishes. The maximum a driver can earn in each race is 150 points. The driver rating number is used pre-race as a prediction tool and post-race as a performance evaluator.
CHASSIS CHOICES: Crew chief Chad Knaus has selected Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 48-824 for Saturday night’s race. Johnson drove this car to a sixth-place finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March. The backup car is Chassis No. 48-784 which Johnson most recently raced last season at Michigan International Speedway in June.
#TEAMJJF WELLNESS CHALLENGE: The first event of the Jimmie Johnson Foundation Wellness Challenge is the JJF5K on April 27 in Huntersville, N.C. For more information or to sign up, visit http://jjfwellnesschallenge.racesonline.com/. Johnson and his wife Chandra launched the Jimmie Johnson Foundation in February 2006. The mission of the foundation is to assist children, families, and communities in need throughout the United States. For additional information on the Jimmie Johnson Foundation, visit www.JimmieJohnsonFoundation.org.
BLUE BUNNY HELMET OF HOPE: Nominations for the Jimmie Johnson Foundation’s Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope campaign closed on April 4. The 10 semifinalists will be announced next week, and then the public will vote from April 17-24 to determine the final five recipients. The five winners each will receive a $25,000 grant, a Blue Bunny ice cream party and special recognition on Johnson’s race helmet for the event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope campaign supports education-focused charities and organizations supporting K-12 public education, including Parent/Teacher Associations.
HENDRICK AT DARLINGTON: In 51 events (158 starts) at Darlington Raceway, Hendrick Motorsports has earned 14 wins, 42 top-five finishes and 68 top-10s. Johnson most recently won at the historic track on May 12, 2012, to claim Hendrick Motorsports’ 200th Sprint Cup victory. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with seven wins, 19 top-five finishes, 22 top-10s, a 6.8 average start and 1,736 laps led at the 1.366-mile oval. Kasey Kahne leads all active drivers there with four pole positions.
30TH ANNIVERSARY: In 2014, Hendrick Motorsports is celebrating its 30th anniversary in NASCAR. The organization began in 1984 with five employees and 5,000 square feet of work space. It has grown to more than 500 employees with a 430,000-square-foot facility that sits on 140 acres. Driver Geoff Bodine won the Martinsville (Va.) Speedway spring race on April 29, 1984, marking Hendrick Motorsports’ first victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
30TH SWEEPSTAKES: To celebrate its 30th anniversary, Hendrick Motorsports is giving away 30 prizes in 30 days from March 27 to April 25. The sweepstakes launched at www.30years.HendrickMotorsports.com. In addition to 30 daily prizes, fans can enter to win one of the four grand prizes: the special-edition 30th anniversary firesuits worn by Hendrick Motorsports drivers Kahne, Gordon, Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. recently at Martinsville Speedway.
JIMMIE JOHNSON ON DARLINGTON: “Darlington has been a great track for us over the years. The most memorable was winning the 200th for Hendrick Motorsports a few years ago. From a track standpoint, Darlington has character so track position and strategy will be pretty important. There is a ton of history and a great race for the fans to watch. It’s a high speed track – it’s one of my favorites. Texas was disappointing for us. We had such a fast car and had some bad luck so I’m looking forward to this weekend and getting back after it.”