JOINS DRIVERS JON FOGARTY, ALEX GURNEY AND JIMMY VASSER IN CHAMPION GAINSCO/BOB STALLINGS CAR SPONSORED BY LOWE'S MOORESVILLE, N.C. -- Two-time Nextel Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, defending Grand-Am Rolex Series champion GAINSCO/Bob ...
JOINS DRIVERS JON FOGARTY, ALEX GURNEY AND JIMMY VASSER IN CHAMPION GAINSCO/BOB STALLINGS CAR SPONSORED BY LOWE'S
MOORESVILLE, N.C. -- Two-time Nextel Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, defending Grand-Am Rolex Series champion GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing and Lowe's Home Improvement will join forces for the 46th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona at Daytona International Speedway on Jan. 26-27.
Johnson will co-drive with defending Daytona Prototype champions Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty, plus 1996 Champ Car champion Jimmy Vasser in the No. 99 Lowe's/GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac-Riley in America's premiere sports car race.
"This is going to be a lot of fun," Johnson said. "I really want to win the Rolex 24 and have tried a couple of times. I think joining this team will give me the best shot ever. What these guys were able to do last season was amazing. I have nothing but the highest respect for this team, drivers and the Rolex Series and hope I can celebrate with them when we roll the Lowe's/GAINSCO car into victory lane."
The team began testing on Nov. 14 at Daytona International Speedway in preparation for the race. Fogarty and Gurney won the pole at this race in 2006 then went on to win the July race at Daytona and the series championship. Team owner Bob Stallings is anxious to begin defending his team's 2007 championship title.
"We plan to take on all comers and there's no better place to start than at the world's most prestigious endurance race," Stallings said. "Jimmie is not only a great driver, but a terrific guy, and I'm especially thrilled that he's joining the GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing family. I believe that, with this incredible lineup, we have more than a fair chance of capturing one of the most elite titles in motorsports -- winners of the Rolex 24 at Daytona."
Johnson, 32, earned his second NASCAR Nextel Cup title in 2007 capping a season that saw him earn 10 victories for Hendrick Motorsports. Johnson owns 33 NEXTEL Cup victories -- the 18th most of any driver. The El Cajon, Calif. native has competed three times in the Rolex 24 at Daytona. He finished second in 2005 and 28th in 2004 driving for Howard-Boss Motorsports and 36th for the Riley-Matthews team last year.
"I have said this before and don't mind telling everyone again. One of the coolest things I have ever done in my career is watching the sun come up over the Daytona International Speedway at daybreak from behind the wheel of a prototype. That was such a beautiful sight and such a peaceful, cool feeling. I'm going to make sure I am in the car when the sun comes up this year."
The normally red painted No. 99 will also carry the blue and silver Lowe's paint scheme similar to paint scheme Johnson drives each weekend in Nextel Cup racing. The team will participate in the traditional three-day Rolex 24 test on Jan. 4-6.
"At our November test the car was really amazing. I could run within a tenth of a second of the best times and through the infield, we were great. This will be a fun weekend, but we are taking this very seriously. I want the trophy."
Bob Gfeller, senior vice president of marketing and advertising at Lowe's, said Johnson's appearance in the sports car race marks the third consecutive year a Lowe's car will compete on the road course in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
"We are very pleased to be part of this race once again," Gfeller said. "Everyone knows of our involvement and success in NASCAR and in recent history we have also taken an active role in sports car racing. Our customers and employees love all types of racing and we feel proud to have a place in this exciting event, and to have this opportunity to support Jimmie in his quest for another win."