Five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson found himself in familiar territory in 2012, as he once again battled for the title of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion. It wasn’t until near the end of the final race at Homestead-Miami Speedway that a failed part derailed his quest for what California native Johnson and his fans affectionately dubbed a “six pack.”
But a sixth title wasn’t to be as Johnson slid to third in the final standings, Clint Bowyer besting him by one point for second place. But Johnson still produced his 11th consecutive top-10 finish in the standings. He also continued his streak of winning multiple races in each of those seasons.
Johnson scored five wins in 2012, bringing his career total to 60. The total places him eighth on the all-time wins list, trailing Dale Earnhardt, who is seventh with 76 wins. He is second to Jeff Gordon (87) among active drivers.
Those wins included an historic victory in May at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, where Johnson delivered the 200th win for Hendrick Motorsports. That was followed by the non-points victory in May at the Sprint All-Star race, and the No. 48 pit crew also won the Sprint pit crew competition. He also recorded a seventh career victory in June at Dover (Del.) International Speedway, tying him with NASCAR legends Bobby Allison and Richard Petty for most career Sprint Cup victories at the 1-mile concrete oval.
Another record-tying win followed in July at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where Johnson scored his fourth Brickyard 400 win. The victory tied him with Jeff Gordon as the winningest driver in the famed race, with four victories apiece. Johnson and Gordon also are tied for second on the all-time Indianapolis Motor Speedway win list with four-time Indianapolis 500 winners A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears. Seven-time Formula One champion Michael Schumacher is the track’s all-time leader with five United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis victories.
Johnson’s next victory was well-timed. Battling Brad Keselowski for the championship, Johnson started from the pole and emerged victorious in October at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. The finish put him atop the points standing with just three races to go. Déjà vu occurred the following weekend at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth as Johnson started from the pole again and, in one of the grittiest finishes in Chase history, held off Keselowski for his fifth win of the season. His second win of the 2012 Chase also padded his Chase win total to 22, a record among drivers.
His two Chase poles were preceded by poles in June at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta and in September at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. He also produced 18 top-five and 24 top-10 finishes, giving him the top driver rating in the series. He also topped all drivers in 11 of 12 key statistical categories in NASCAR’s loop data, which is used to measure statistics such fastest laps run and average green flag speed.
Personally, Johnson and his wife, Chandra, delved for the first time into the world of book publishing. In 2012, they self-published, “On The Road,” a candid, photographic look at Johnson’s life during the 10 weeks of the 2011 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Demand for “On The Road” proved strong, and a second edition was ordered. Johnson also entered into an exclusive partnership with leading book retailer Amazon to offer an electronic version of “On The Road” for its Kindle Fire.
The couple also continued its work with the Jimmie Johnson Foundation. More than $5.6 million has been contributed since the foundation’s inception in 2006.
Sprint Cup Series Career
In 2013, Johnson enters his 12th full year of Sprint Cup competition with 399 Sprint Cup starts and a record that includes 60 wins, 29 poles, 166 top-five and 248 top-10 finishes. He also ran three Sprint Cup Series races for Hendrick Motorsports in 2001. He is the only driver in NASCAR history to win five consecutive championships.
Johnson, who joins Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt as drivers with five or more championships, needed 327 races to win his fifth title. Petty took 655 events, while Earnhardt required 390.
His 2010 run to the championship was one for the record books as Johnson became the first driver in the seven-year history of the Chase to overcome a points deficit in the season finale. He was only the third driver since 1975 to do so in any format as he went on to beat Denny Hamlin by 39 points.
Johnson was named Driver of the Year in 2010 for the fourth time in his career, joining Jeff Gordon as the only other four-time winner of the prestigious award.
Johnson’s name was officially etched in the record books in 2009, when he beat teammate Mark Martin for the championship by 141 points. Johnson became the first driver to win four consecutive Sprint Cup titles, breaking the record of three held by one of his favorite childhood drivers, Cale Yarborough.
He also became the first racecar driver to be named Male Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press in the organization’s 78-year history.
Johnson won his first three championships in dominant fashion. In 2006, he clinched his first title by finishing 56 points ahead of runner-up Matt Kenseth. He followed that in dramatic fashion with a 77-point win over teammate Gordon in 2007. His third championship came in 2008 when he outscored Carl Edwards by 69 points.
The Early Years
While Johnson’s success on and off the track has come in a relatively short amount of time, it took years of hard work, dedication and help from a variety of people to get there.
With the support of his family, Johnson’s racing career started on 50cc motorcycles at age 5. His father, Gary, worked for a tire company, and his mother, Cathy, drove a school bus. With Jimmie and younger brothers Jarit and Jessie in tow, the family spent most of its weekends camping and doing what it loved – racing. During race weekends, it wasn’t unusual to see Johnson’s dad preparing the tracks for racing and his mom running the concession stand.
Johnson was successful on motorcycles at an early age. By the time he was 8, he won the 60cc class championship despite blowing out his knee with several races remaining in the season.
From motorcycles, Johnson graduated to the Mickey Thompson Entertainment Group (MTEG) Stadium Racing Series, where he won more awards. A 1993 meeting arranged by his mentor, supercross champion Rick Johnson (no relation), proved fortuitous for the eager driver.
While racing at the Los Angeles Coliseum, Rick Johnson introduced his young protégé to the executive director of GM Racing, Herb Fishel. The protégé lived up to his billing, impressing Fishel with his driving ability and business acumen.
Fishel kept his eye on Johnson that year. He later walked into an off-road racing team meeting and threw a picture of Johnson on the table informing the team that Johnson was the man they needed to drive their car.
Johnson seized the opportunity, spending the next few years driving buggies and trucks in off-road stadium and desert races. Johnson also improved his ability to connect with fans and potential sponsors by reporting for ESPN in the Short Course Off-Road Drivers Association Series (SODA).
In 1995, the work paid off in another way as Johnson met his future car owners Stan and Randy Herzog while working in the series. The following year, Johnson began driving the brothers’ off-road truck. After two years, Johnson was ready for the next opportunity and crafted a proposal, taking it to his friend Fishel. An impressed Fishel gave the owners and their ambitious driver a shot. In 1998, Johnson climbed behind the wheel of an American Speed Association (ASA) car for his first taste of pavement racing, and he never looked back.
His ASA victories paved the way for his move to NASCAR – initially in the Nationwide Series – where his winning ways continued, ultimately in the form of his five consecutive Sprint Cup championships.
The Jimmie Johnson Foundation
Johnson’s impact isn’t limited to the racetrack. Johnson and his wife, Chandra, launched the Jimmie Johnson Foundation in 2006. The foundation is dedicated to helping children, families and communities in need. To date, more than $5.6 million has been contributed to various organizations.
The foundation focuses on funding K-12 public education, primarily through the Jimmie Johnson Foundation/Lowe’s Toolbox for Education Champions Grant program. Champions Grants have been awarded to 63 school projects located in California, Oklahoma and North Carolina, where the Johnsons grew up and currently reside. Grant projects include science and technology, fitness programs, trade-based programs, school improvements, language and literary programs and the arts.
In partnership with Samsung and Lowe’s, the foundation also runs the Team Up For Technology program, a $48,000 technology makeover open to K-12 public schools nationwide.
In addition, the foundation selects 12 charities each year to be featured on Johnson’s Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope. These charities are selected from nominations made by fans and media members nationwide. Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope charities receive a grant of $10,000, a Blue Bunny ice cream party and national exposure on the helmet worn for a select Sprint Cup race.
Past foundation partnerships include working with San Diego Habitat for Humanity to construct four homes on Foundation Lane in El Cajon, Calif., Johnson’s hometown, and building Jimmie Johnson’s Victory Lanes, a four-lane bowling center for campers at Pattie and Kyle Petty’s Victory Junction in Randleman, N.C. In addition, in partnership with teammates Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. and team owner Rick Hendrick, Chandra and Jimmie Johnson pledged their support to build the Toddler Playroom at the Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte.
The foundation continues to work with the Hendrick Marrrow Program, Make-A-Wish and Project L.I.F.T. The foundation’s signature fundraiser is the Jimmie Johnson Foundation Golf Tournament, held each June in San Diego. Since its inception, the tournament has raised more than $2.6 million.
Date of BirthSep 17, 1975
HometownEl Cajon, Calif.
Current ResidenceCharlotte, N.C.
ChildrenDaughter Genevieve Marie
02/15/2014 No. 48 Team Next Race Paint Scheme