Victory Lane recognition, Jimmie Johnson Drive road renaming, more among honors for 11-time Dover winner
Dover International Speedway this weekend unveiled additional permanent recognitions for the most accomplished driver in its long history as Jimmie Johnson makes his final trip to the Monster Mile as a full-time NASCAR Cup Series driver. Johnson stopped by to visit a few of the recognitions today.
Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports, is recognized in several locations around the track this weekend. Highlights included:
- A permanent recognition on Dover’s Victory Lane, honoring Johnson as "The Monster Mile Master." The display recognizes his 11 wins and lists each of his Dover triumphs.
- A road outside the frontstretch grandstands, previously known as Finish Line Drive, has been renamed Jimmie Johnson Drive.
- On Sunday, Aug. 23, 11 huge Jimmie Johnson heads will be on display in the grandstands, one for each of his record 11 Dover victories (and a 12th one in reserve if he wins Saturday’s "Drydene 311" NASCAR Cup Series race).
- A billboard overlooking Turn 2 proclaims "Thanks, Jimmie."
The recognitions complement the previously announced efforts of Johnson’s primary sponsor Ally. Ally, a leading digital financial-services company, is the presenting sponsor of the Monster Monument at Victory Plaza and the Monster Bridge suite complex overlooking Turn 3. On Aug. 11, the No. 48 Ally car was installed into the waiting hand of the Monster Monument at Victory Plaza, presented by Ally.
"Jimmie Johnson has been The Monster Mile’s greatest champion through the years," said Mike Tatoian, Dover International Speedway’s president and CEO. "As he says farewell to a full-time schedule in the NASCAR Cup Series it is fitting that we celebrate his legacy and memories he gave to thousands of fans here at Dover. He’s been a great ambassador for the sport and for Dover and we can’t thank him enough.
"And we couldn’t think of two better areas of our property to permanently honor Johnson – outside of Victory Lane, which has become his home-away-from-home throughout his career, and by renaming the road previously known as Finish Line Drive – now forever known as Jimmie Johnson Drive."
Johnson’s first racing experience at Dover came in 1999, as part of the ASA National Tour. From there, Johnson never looked back at Dover when he entered the NASCAR Cup Series, sweeping two Dover events in his rookie year in 2002, completing another sweep in 2009 and gaining momentum for many of his seven NASCAR Cup Series championship runs.
"I was able to win there twice in my rookie year and really get the momentum I needed to start my career," Johnson said. "The fall race has always been a great springboard for me on my championship years to put me in a position to win a championship. I’m really thankful that Dover is on the schedule and where it has been placed on the schedule, especially in the playoff era, has served me very well."
Johnson will race in the "Drydene 311" NASCAR Cup Series races on Saturday, Aug. 22 and Sunday, Aug. 23 as part of the "Drydene Doubleheader Weekend," featuring back-to-back NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Cup Series races as he attempts to add to his record Dover victory total.
Johnson comes into this weekend on the edge of making the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, with only three more regular season races remaining before the final cutoff. While he did leave the door open for a possible return behind the wheel at the Monster Mile, Johnson recognizes this weekend is special as he makes one final push for a NASCAR Cup Series title.
"Just a big thank you to all the fans for their support," Johnson said. "I’m not sure this will be my last time to Dover. If it is, just thank you for the memories and the support. The track has meant so much to me. I love that area as well. I really enjoyed my time cycling or going out to eat at the various restaurants around town. So, thank you for welcoming me to your area and I’ve truly enjoyed all the success that I’ve had there."
Dedicated in 2008, the Monster Monument in Victory Plaza, presented by Ally, stands 46-feet tall and holds a full-scale stock car in the monster’s right hand, which now features Johnson’s No. 48 car. The base of the monument pays tribute to every race winner at Dover International Speedway and features larger dedications to legendary drivers who are recognized for their special accomplishments earned on the world’s fastest one-mile oval. In just more than a decade, the Monster Monument at Victory Plaza presented by Ally has become the unmistakable symbol for Dover International Speedway throughout the sports and entertainment landscape.
Opened in 2004, USA Today has called the Ally Monster Bridge the best seats in NASCAR. Sitting 29 feet above the entrance to Turn 3, Dover International Speedway’s Ally Monster Bridge offers "The Most Exciting Seat in Sports" to NASCAR fans. Several of the 56 seats are autographed by past Dover winners, including Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Mark Martin, Ryan Newman and Martin Truex Jr.