Thursday, January 31, 2013

Johnson to run Phoenix race for JR Motorsports

Jimmie Johnson's last Nationwide race was August 2011 at Watkins Glen. He finished second.
Credit: Skirts and Scuffs
Five-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson will return to the Nationwide Series for one race in 2013. Johnson will pilot the No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet for JR Motorsports in the March 2 event at Phoenix International Raceway.

The last time Johnson competed in the Nationwide Series, he finished second in a JR Motorsports car at Watkins Glen in August 2011. JRM is owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr., Johnson’s teammate at Hendrick Motorsports.

“I appreciate Junior letting me run one of his cars,” Johnson said in a team press release. “My goal is to make my team owner so proud that, perhaps, he’ll invite me back more often than once every two years.”

The arrangement is mutually beneficial for Johnson and Earnhardt Jr.

Earnhardt Jr.’s Nationwide team will be collaborating more with the highly successful HMS to improve JRM’s performance on the track. With Johnson and another Hendrick teammate, Kasey Kahne, behind the wheel of the No. 5 car this season, the feedback from two Sprint Cup drivers only serves to aid the organization.

As for Johnson, the driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet in Sprint Cup gets more seat time on the Phoenix track’s new surface. The 1-mile oval, where Johnson has four wins on the old surface, was reconfigured and repaved in 2011.

“This a great opportunity for me to get more familiar with the new configuration at PIR,” Johnson said. “Not only do we race there twice in Cup, but both races are in crucial spots on the schedule for Team Lowe’s Racing. I appreciate JR Motorsports and Great Clips giving me this opportunity, and I hope to not disappoint my team owner.”

Kahne and Brad Sweet will share the wheel of the No. 5 JRM car in 2013. Great Clips originally signed on for a 28-race sponsorship at JRM, with Kahne and Sweet to split 27 races. But with Johnson in the seat at Phoenix, Sweet will now pilot the No. 5 at the June 15 event at Michigan International Speedway. This bumps Great Clips’ commitment to 29 races.

Earnhardt Jr. will run the No. 88 JRM Chevrolet sponsored by Great Clips in the May 4 Nationwide race at Talladega.

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