JR Motorsports lures five-time Cup champ for Phoenix race
Five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson will drive in one NASCAR Nationwide Series race for JR Motorsports in 2013.
Johnson, who last raced in the Nationwide Series in 2011, will pilot the No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet in the Bashas’ Supermarkets 200 at Phoenix International Raceway on March 2, team owner Kelley Earnhardt Miller announced Thursday.
“I appreciate Junior letting me run one of his cars,” Johnson said of his Hendrick Motorsports teammate and JR Motorsports owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. “My goal is to make my team owner so proud that, perhaps, he’ll invite me back more often than once every two years. In all seriousness, this is a great opportunity for me to get more familiar with the new configuration at PIR.”
Johnson’s one Nationwide race in 2011 was also with JRM, and it resulted in a second-place finish at Watkins Glen International. Johnson has four career wins at Phoenix, all on the Sprint Cup level.
In his NASCAR career, Johnson has 92 Nationwide starts. The majority, 64, came during his two full-time campaigns in 2000 and 2001. His lone Series victory came in 2001 at Chicagoland Speedway.
JR Motorsports has 10 Nationwide Series wins to its credit as an organization. The most recent was in the Series’ most recent race, when Regan Smith drove to victory in last year’s finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Great Clips has a 28-race sponsorship with JRM. In addition to Johnson, Earnhardt will drive the Great Clips-sponsored No. 88 car at Talladega Superspeeday in May. Kasey Kahne will also drive a handful of races in the No. 5.