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RIR Preview: Rising to the Challenge

SEASON-TO-DATE: After eight NASCAR Sprint Cup races this season, Jimmie Johnson owns the highest driver rating with a score of 106 and ranks fifth in the driver standings. His 501 laps led rank second just behind Kevin Harvick (515 laps led).

AT RICHMOND: In 24 Cup starts at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway, Johnson has three wins, five top-five finishes and eight top-10s. He has an average finish of 17.3. Johnson has started from the pole position twice at the 0.75-mile oval.

DRIVER RATING: Johnson has the 10th-highest driver rating at Richmond with a score of 88.5 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. 48-832 for this weekend at Richmond. Johnson most recently drove this car to a sixth-place finish at Phoenix International Raceway in March. The backup car is Chassis No. 48-806, which Johnson most recently raced to a fourth-place result at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in September 2013.

#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: The Jimmie Johnson Foundation recently announced the 10 semifinalists are eligible for a $25,000 grant. In all, five grants are available through the Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope program. A public vote will take place April 17 through 24 at www.helmetofhope.org to determine the five grant winners. The Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope program, which began in 2008, allows fans and consumers across the country to nominate not-for-profit (501c3) organizations that support K-12 public education. The 10 semifinalists are: Champions For Learning (Naples, Fla.); Communities in Schools Spokane (Spokane, Wash.); Crayons to Classrooms (Dayton, Ohio); HEART Tutoring (Charlotte, N.C.); LeMars Community Schools Foundation (LeMars, Iowa); MeckEd (Charlotte, N.C.); Partnership for Los Angeles Schools (Los Angeles); Reading Partners (Denver); Solar One (New York); Tucson Museum of Art Education Center (Tucson, Ariz.). For additional information and to vote for your favorite semifinalist, visit www.helmetofhope.org.

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 http://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 Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon, Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. recently at Martinsville Speedway.

HENDRICK AT RICHMOND: In 60 Cup events (190 starts) at Richmond, Hendrick Motorsports has 10 wins, 51 top-five finishes and 90 top-10s. Gordon leads all active, full-time drivers at the 0.75-mile short track with 16 top-five finishes, 26 top-10s, 1,464 laps led and an average starting position of 7.6. Johnson most recently went to Victory Lane there for the organization on Sept. 7, 2008.

JIMMIE JOHNSON, DRIVER, NO. 48 KOBALT CHEVROLET SS (ON RICHMOND.): “We have struggled a little at Richmond in the past so we hope this time around will be a better race as a whole for us. We’ve had fast race cars; our pit stops have been good and have been close to winning. Even though we haven’t won, it’s still a confidence booster that we are running well. The off-weekend was great for everyone, especially my guys, to recharge their batteries so we will be ready to roll at Richmond.”

CHAD KNAUS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 48 KOBALT CHEVROLET SS (ON RICHMOND.): “It’s a challenging weekend to say the least. We practice and qualify on Friday during the day, and then we come back and race Saturday night so it’s a challenging schedule for sure. The track is very temperature sensitive and during the day the groove is really wide, and then when the temperature drops at night the groove gets narrow so it’s hard to pass. Richmond has been hot and cold for the No. 48 team. We have had some success and also had some terrible performances. The majority of the races we have won have been when we came back from a rain delay situation and raced on Sundays.”

TAGS: Race News

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Jeff Gordon
Denny Hamlin
Ryan Newman
Jimmie Johnson
Started: 8th
Finished: 1st
November 15th, 2015
2:30 p.m. ET on NBC
Kobalt Hot Pass