Jimmie Johnson hoping to add another NASCAR All-Star trophy to his collection, this one from Bristol Motor Speedway
Jimmie Johnson has two victories at Bristol Motor Speedway on his impressive racing resume, but on Wednesday night, July 15, he would like to add another trophy from the tough all-concrete high-banked oval to his collection when he competes in the prestigious NASCAR All-Star Race for likely the final time in his stellar career.
Johnson is the winningest driver in the history of the NASCAR All-Star Race, winning it four times. Each of those victories came at Charlotte Motor Speedway, which has served as the home for the race in 34 of the 35 years that it has been contested.
When Johnson takes the green flag at Bristol in the four-stage special event that will feature 140 total laps, it will mark the first time the event will be held at a short track. And if past Bristol races are any indication, especially some of the ones that have been held at night, things might get just a little hectic.
With no championship points on the line, plus a $1 million payday, plus the challenge of navigating the World's Fastest Half-Mile and 19 of the sport's most talented drivers battling for the victory, the resulting formula could ultimately equal total chaos. The race stages will include a 55-lap opener, two 35-lap stages in the middle and a final go-for-broke 15-lap stage where only green flag laps will count.
"Bristol under the lights is exciting for all," Johnson said. "A mid-week event on TV will be great for the sport.
"This is really a huge payday," he continued. "Not that money matters, but it certainly doesn't hurt, and it helps you make some aggressive decisions out there."
Johnson earned All-Star victories in 2003, 2006, 2012 and 2013. He posted a season-best finish of third at Bristol's Food City Supermarket Heroes 500 in May and has won the Food City 500 two times in his career. After struggling a bit with Bristol's unique layout early in his career, he has figured out how to be successful at Thunder Valley.
"The All-Star race is fun, high energy," Johnson said. "There is a lot of money on the line to win, so there will be some chaos. I'd love to win the first All-Star race at Bristol. The No. 48 team likes a challenge and this will be a good one."
Johnson is pumped that the race will have spectators in the grandstands. The majority of Cup Series races this season during the COVID-19 pandemic have left the grandstands empty due to government mandates. Johnson is ready for NASCAR Nation to return to the track.
"Having fans in the stands will be great progress," Johnson said, "and I am proud of Steve Phelps (NASCAR president), NASCAR and the Smith family for making the call. Change is good, and change is progress."
Johnson says the All-Star Race is a blast every year and if you are able to win, he says the thrill meter gets pegged to max. He hopes he can keep his current trend of success going at Bristol and grab the win. He has finished in the top 10 in nine of his last 12 starts at Bristol. Combine that stat with his career average of a seventh place finish in 18 All-Star Race appearances and it could equal success.
"There is just so much excitement that comes with this race, and when you're able to win, the celebration that follows definitely leaves a mark and is a lot of fun," Johnson said. "But, it's been a few years. I would love to get back to Victory Lane, and, obviously, the payday is unlike anything we see in the sport in today's world.
All-Star eligibility includes 2019 or 2020 Cup Series winners; previous All-Star Race winners; or former Cup Series champions. In addition to Johnson, the other Cup Series drivers who are All-Star Race eligible include: Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Chase Elliot, Justin Haley, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Erik Jones, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman and Martin Truex Jr.
The action gets underway on Wednesday, July 15 with the NASCAR All-Star Open, a last-chance qualifier race for those drivers without a starting spot in the NASCAR All-Star Race. The two stage winners and the race winner of the NASCAR All-Star Open will advance into the NASCAR All-Star Race. The winner of the NASCAR All-Star Fan Vote, which is currently ongoing at NASCAR.com, also will earn a starting spot in the NASCAR All-Star Race. The Fan Vote closes at noon on Tuesday, July 14.
Live coverage of the NASCAR All-Star Open and NASCAR All-Star Race at Bristol Motor Speedway will be provided by FS1, MRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio starting at 7 p.m. (ET).
For ticket information, please visit www.bristolmotorspeedway.com/tickets/nascar-all-star-race.