FONTANA RECAP: Jimmie Johnson led a race-high 104 laps last Sunday at Auto Club Speedway and was pacing the field with seven laps to go when he sustained a tire issue. Forced to make an unscheduled pit stop, Johnson returned to finish the fifth NASCAR Sprint Cup event of the year in 24th. He now ranks sixth in the driver standings.
SPRING IS CALLING: For the second week in a row, the Lowe’s spring bird and green accents will adorn the No. 48 Lowe’s Spring Is Calling Chevrolet SS to commemorate a busy season at the home improvement store.
AT MARTINSVILLE: With eight Cup wins at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, Johnson ranks tied for first with teammate Jeff Gordon among active drivers at the short track. Johnson also leads active drivers there with an average finish of 5.3. Overall, Johnson has three pole positions, eight wins, 17 top-five finishes and 21 top-10s in 24 Cup starts at the paper-clip oval.
LOOP DATA: Johnson has the Cup Series’ best average running position (5.829) during the last 18 races at Martinsville, according to NASCAR’s loop data statistics. He leads the competition during that timeframe with an average finish of 3.9. Last April, Johnson started on the pole and won the race after leading a career-best 346 of 500 laps.
DRIVER RATING: Johnson has the highest driver rating at Martinsville with a score of 124 during the past 18 events. 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. 48-749 which Johnson drove to Victory Lane last April at Martinsville. Johnson also raced this chassis to a fifth-place finish at the paper-clip shaped oval in October 2013. The backup car is Chassis No. 48-806 which Johnson raced last season at both events in New Hampshire.
HENDRICK BESTS AT MARTINSVILLE: Hendrick Motorsports has recorded its most wins, top-five finishes and top-10s at Martinsville. The organization has 21 victories there, with Gordon most recently reaching Victory Lane at the short track in October 2013. During that race, three Hendrick Motorsports drivers finished eighth or better to give the organization 110 career top-10s at Martinsville. That figure is a team-best for Hendrick and ranks as more than any other team has acquired at any Cup track in NASCAR history.
MARTINSVILLE DUO: Johnson and Gordon recorded victories at Martinsville in 2013 and remain tied for first among active drivers there with eight wins apiece at the paper-clip oval. Gordon leads active drivers at the Virginia short track in the following statistical categories: top-five finishes (27), top-10s (34) and laps led (3,593). Gordon also ranks first among active drivers with a 7.2 starting position.
HENDRICK SWEEPS: Hendrick Motorsports has swept the Cup events at Martinsville five times since entering its first race there in 1984. The organization has won three straight events at the short track on four occasions, including most recently when Johnson won in October 2012 and April 2013 followed by Gordon in October 2013. A win this weekend would mark the first four-peat for Hendrick Motorsports at the Virginia short track.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, DRIVER, NO. 48 LOWE’S SPRING IS CALLING CHEVROLET SS (ON MARTINSVILLE.): “Martinsville is one of those races on the schedule I always want to win. Last year we had great runs at Martinsville, and it would be an honor to win there once again for Hendrick Motorsports.”
JOHNSON: (ON HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS’ 30TH ANNIVERSARY.) “I know a lot of other successful businessmen but (team owner) Mr. (Rick) Hendrick is a car guy. People want to work for him, and they show up and do the best that they can. They treat our company like it’s theirs. That’s due to his personality and who he is as a man. That’s something to be proud of.”