One Hot Night and Lightning Strikes
When NASCAR, Humpy Wheeler, and R.J. Reynolds created a 70 lap shootout for $200,000 in 1985, they created a NASCAR staple that has forged some of the sport’s greatest moments. 20 years ago Jeff Gordon’s Hendrick Chevy, the infamous “T-Rex” No. 24, was so fast it was outlawed after it dominated like few cars ever have. And who could forget the “Pass in the Grass” – 30 years ago this year.
This year, the race is throwing it back 25 years to “One Hot Night” in 1992 – a perfect name for a night which is now the stuff of legend. In the first race under the lights at a track as big as Charlotte, Dale Earnhardt, Kyle Petty, and Davey Allison all duked it out on the last lap for the big no-points paycheck…
As the winningest driver in All Star history, Jimmie has four favorite memories of his own. In 2003, he won the final running of “The Winston” one week before he won his first Coca-Cola 600 in the popular “Power of Pride” Lowe’s Chevy. Then he won the All Star Race in 2006 in route to his first Championship. He notched wins three and a record four in 2012 and 2013. While it’s hard to pick one, 2012 certainly stands out for a number of reasons…
All four of Johnson’s triumphs have come under four different race formats. 2012 was perhaps the most unusual, with the winners of the first four segments being the first four on pit lane before the final ten lap shootout for a million bucks. Johnson started sixth, and end of end of the first 20 lap segment he led the field. This is where crew chief Chad Knaus made a strange call: he had Jimmie take the No. 48 to the rear, where he just rode around for the next 60 laps at a relative snail’s pace. Then out of nowhere, the Lowe’s Chevy was back at the head end of the field to begin the final 10 laps! In usual Team No. 48 fashion, Jimmie and Chad had pulled a fast one on the field!
When he crossed the finish line, Johnson tied Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon with three wins – the most in the race’s history. But it was what happened next that took the celebrations to the next level. Check out the final ten laps and unforgettable victory celebrations in the video below…
As Rick Hendrick greeted his winning driver on pit road, Johnson told him to “Get in!” The spur of the moment ride down the front stretch, with Hendrick holding on for dear life as he waved to the roaring crowd, is definitely our favorite All Star moment.
This race was also the premiere of the lightning bolt on the nose of the No. 48 Chevy. If you look closely in the picture above, you can see it on the small piece of grille tape. Affixed during a pit stop, the lightning bolt proved to be good luck, and has become somewhat of a Team Lowe’s tradition. The following year the lightning struck again as Johnson won his record fourth All Star race with his special piece of go-fast grille tape.
This year’s All Star format has thrown yet another variable into the mix with the brand new Goodyear option soft (and fast!) tires. Team Lowe’s has always been able to adapt to changing formats in the past, and they have the stats on their side! They are powered by the winningest All Star manufacturer in Chevrolet, the winningest All Star team in Hendrick Motorsports, and have the winningest All Star driver behind the wheel. Tune in to Fox Sports 1 on Saturday at 8 PM ET to see this Jimmie battle for a fifth win in this year’s edition of “One Hot Night.”