|KING OF THE QUEEN CITY: Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson will make his final two starts on the Charlotte Motor Speedway oval on May 24 and 27. With eight total victories there – half of them coming in the marathon 600-mile race – he is the track’s all-time wins leader. In Cup competition, Johnson has led 1,930 total laps (second all-time to Bobby Allison) and posted three pole positions, 16 top-five finishes and 22 top-10s there.
DO IT FOR DEANS: This weekend, Johnson’s No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE will feature the name of Army Cpl. Patrick Deans on the windshield. A native of Winter Garden, Florida, Deans served in the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team based in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. He died in action on Dec. 12, 2010, in Afghanistan when a suicide bomber attacked his unit, killing five other soldiers and wounding 11. Posthumously, Deans received the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star, Iraq Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star, and the Combat Infantryman Badge. He died two days before his 23rd birthday.
HERO PREVIEW: Last week, Johnson and primary sponsor Ally gave troops stationed in North Carolina a sneak peek at the special No. 48 paint scheme the driver will race in the Memorial Day weekend event at Charlotte as part of the NASCAR Salutes and 600 Miles of Remembrance tributes to military heroes. Johnson interacted with 16 representatives of the Air Force, Coast Guard, Army, Air National Guard and USO during a video conference. The seven-time NASCAR champion thanked the troops for their sacrifice, answered questions and previewed the olive drab-colored paint scheme. During the virtual gathering, Johnson was joined by David Shevsky, chief operating officer for Ally Auto Finance, to announce a $20,000 donation to the USO of North Carolina’s Protect the Force 2020 initiative to support military families facing additional difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Johnson and Ally are each donating $10,000 to the USO’s charitable fund.
SINGLING OUT THE 600: With a fifth win on Sunday, Johnson would tie NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip for the most ever in the Charlotte 600. Johnson’s total of 1,030 laps led in the race is third all-time behind two Hall of Famers: David Pearson (1,252) and Allison (1,176).
DOUBLE TROUBLE: With four on his resumé, Johnson has twice as many Charlotte 600 wins as the next active drivers. Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick each have two.
BROKEN RECORD: Johnson, 44, has won an all-time best eight points-paying races on the Charlotte Motor Speedway oval. He has also gone to victory lane four times in the NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte, the most in history.
1.5-MILE MASTER: With a total of 28, Johnson is the all-time leader in NASCAR Cup Series wins on 1.5-mile intermediate tracks – with 11 more than his closest competitor. On 1.5-milers, he holds the all-time records for top-five finishes (76), top-10s (117) and laps led (5,877). His average finish of 11.67 is the best of all drivers with more than 25 starts. He also has 14 pole positions (fourth all-time) and 18 runner-up finishes (tied with Harvick for the most) on mile-and-a-half tracks.
CROWN JEWELS: The Memorial Day weekend race at Charlotte is considered one of the four crown jewels of NASCAR alongside the DAYTONA 500, the Southern 500 at Darlington and the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis. Johnson, who has 12 crown jewel wins, is one of only four drivers with a career grand slam. The others are Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt and Harvick.
NOT ‘TOO TOUGH’: At Darlington Raceway on Wednesday night, Johnson drove through the field from a 37th-place starting position to finish eighth and capture the third top-10 of the season for the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet team. He and crew chief Cliff Daniels were on a mission after an early exit in the Sunday, May 17 event at Darlington when the team was involved in an accident while leading the race. Johnson is a three-time winner at the track “Too Tough to Tame.”
HELMET OF HOPE TO ADDRESS COVID-19: Now in its 13th year, the Jimmie Johnson Foundation’s Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope program assists non-profits that directly support K-12 public education. In 2020, non-profits that provide services to school-age students who have been directly impacted by the COVID-19 crisis are also eligible to be nominated. Until 3 p.m. ET on Friday, June 5, individuals 18 and older can nominate qualified organizations to receive a $25,000 grant, a Blue Bunny Ice Cream party and their logo featured on Johnson’s helmet during a 2020 NASCAR Cup Series race. A total of five organizations will be selected as 2020 Helmet of Hope grant recipients. Since the Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope program launched in 2008, more than $1.3 million has been awarded to 121 charities. Visit helmetofhope.org to nominate a charity.