HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (June 27, 2012) – It is not a stretch to say that the blue featured on Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet has some championships associated with it. That blue is, of course, the iconic blue associated with primary sponsor Lowe’s. However, there may be some crossover basketball fans who claim otherwise this weekend when the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series visits Kentucky Speedway in Sparta.
That’s because blue is also associated with the University of Kentucky Wildcats, who won the 2012 NCAA men’s national basketball title by defeating the University of Kansas Jayhawks, who are also associated with blue and national championships.
Championships aside, race fans, no matter where they are from, will get a chance to see the iconic Lowe’s blue Chevrolet in action at the 1.5-mile tri-oval. This time, however, it’s with a somewhat different look. The base color for Johnson’s car this weekend is called “Dover White” with blue racing stripes. It’s the second in a series of new color combinations for the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet in a tribute to the American muscle car. Johnson ran a “Mountain Green” paint scheme at Kansas in April. These special schemes play off the primary paint schemes for the Lowe’s and Kobalt Tools cars that were inspired by the first-generation Chevy Camaros with racing stripes.
While the new scheme is sure to be popular with the Kentucky-area fans, Johnson is hoping the result is much like the one the Wildcats enjoyed the first Monday in April – a win. It would take him one step closer to one of his goals, winning at every track on the Sprint Cup circuit. Kentucky is one of five tracks where Johnson has failed to visit victory lane. Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International and Homestead-Miami Speedway are the others.
The five-time Sprint Cup champion did come close during the series’ first visit to Kentucky in 2011, when he earned a solid third-place run. He says he is looking forward to his second visit to the “bumpy, rough” track. And while adding to his current run of five top-five finishes in six races or, better yet, a visit to victory lane, if possible, fans of the No. 48 car will have to wait until November to see if the Lowe’s blue turns out to be championship blue once again this year.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, Driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s “Dover White” Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports:
What is the most challenging part about racing at Kentucky?
“Really, how rough the track is. My first laps there from the test session last year when we went, I felt like the bumps were going to make the car lose grip and spin out and be out of control. But there is so much grip there that, even with as rough and as bumpy as it is, you stand on the gas and carry a ton of speed and just bounce around. Those are the things I had to overcome when I got on the track last year.”
Is that what sets it apart from other 1.5-mile tracks?
“Yes. It’s the roughest and fastest track we go to. Well, Atlanta is fast, but there are big swells and I still don’t feel like we’re driving as hard at Atlanta as we are at Kentucky. At Kentucky, you’re driving it like a freshly repaved track. You have high frequency bumps and banking doing weird things. It’s a fun track for those reasons and it has a lot of character to it.”
How do you think the track is going to change from last year to this year?
“Well, the track was already really bumpy and rough. They haven’t resurfaced it or anything and I hope they don’t because we like those types of tracks. I would assume those bumps will get a little bit bigger and the grip will go down just a touch.”
Source: Jimmie Johnson media