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NASCAR Cup: Junior Johnson passes away

during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 22, 2010 in Concord, North Carolina.

By AMANDA VINCENT

NASCAR legend Robert Glenn Johnson Jr., better known as Junior Johnson, has passed away at the age of 88. Johnson’s health had been declining, and he entered hospice care earlier in the week.

Johnson, a native of North Wilkesboro, N.C., was among the first class of five individuals inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2010, and in 1998, he was selected as one of NASCAR’s 50 greatest drivers. He was successful as both a driver and a crew chief. As a driver at NASCAR’s top level between 1953 and 1966, Johnson won 50 times in 313 races, most among drivers without a championship, as he never competed in enough races in a single season to be a championship contender. As a NASCAR team owner, Johnson won 132 races and six championships, including three-straight titles with Cale Yarborough. His other three championships came with Darrell Waltrip as driver.

Johnson retired from NASCAR team ownership after the 1995 season. He also is attributed with leading R.J. Reynolds to NASCAR, resulting in Winston becoming the first title sponsor of NASCAR’s premier series.

Johnson was given the moniker of the “Last American Hero” in a 1965 Esquire magazine article. That article was the basis of a movie about Johnson by the same name in 1973. In 1986, he received a full presidential pardon from President Ronald Reagan, overturning a 1956 federal conviction for moonshining.

“Junior Johnson truly was the ‘Last American Hero.’ From his early days running moonshine through the end of his life, Junior wholly embodied the NASCAR spirit,” NASCAR Chairman and CEO Jim France said. “He was an inaugural NASCAR Hall of Famer, a nod to an extraordinary career as both a driver and team owner. Between his on-track accomplishments and his introduction of Winston to the sport, few have contributed to the success of NASCAR as Junior has. The entire NASCAR family is saddened by the loss of a true giant of our sport, and we offer our deepest condolences to Junior’s family and friends during this difficult time.”

Johnson is survived by wife Lisa, daughter Meredith and son Robert Glenn Johnson III.

“It is with great sadness that we share the passing of Junior Johnson on behalf of the Johnson family. First and foremost, everyone at the NASCAR Hall of Fame offers our most sincere condolences to Lisa, Robert, Meredith and the entire family,” NASCAR Hall of Fame Executive Director Winston Kelley said. “We have lost one of NASCAR’s true pioneers, innovators, competitors and an incredible mechanical and business mind. And, personally, I have lost one of my dearest friends. While we will miss Junior mightily, his legacy and memory will forever be remembered, preserved, celebrated and cherished at the NASCAR Hall of Fame and in the hearts and minds of race fans around the world. Please join us in remembering and celebrating Robert Glenn Johnson Jr. ”

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Posted by on December 21, 2019. Filed under Breaking News,Cup Series,Featured,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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