Graveyard Ghosts: Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet Impala

Ron Lemasters | 4/30/2018

News Racecar Graveyard

This week's addition to the Racecar Graveyard takes us back to 2012, when Jimmie Johnson's Daytona 500 ended after just one lap.

Driver: Jimmie Johnson

Car: No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet Impala

Track: Daytona International Speedway (Feb. 27, 2012)

Bio: Seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson found himself in the one spot that stock-car drivers never want to be in at Daytona International Speedway...or any track, for that matter. He was sideways to the field, driver’s door facing the oncoming traffic, with no ability to get out of the way.

This week’s Racecar Graveyard denizen had lost its ability to do anything other than obey the laws of physics after getting turned into the outside wall just one lap and 600 feet into the running of the Daytona 500 in 2012. You remember that race, right? It was the same rain-delayed event (run on a Monday) in which another resident of the Graveyard, Juan Pablo Montoya’s No. 42 Chevrolet, obliterated the jet dryer after breaking a truck arm on lap 160.

Johnson was right on Regan Smith’s bumper after crossing the start/finish line to complete the first lap of the rain-delayed race when it all went sideways. Johnson drifted high for the run to Turn 1 to pass the struggling Smith—with Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s car tucked underneath Smith’s car. Elliott Sadler, on Johnson’s bumper, tapped the Lowe’s Chevrolet slightly (you’ll have that in big-time restrictor-plate racing) and that was the catalyst. Johnson got loose from the contact, corrected to the right and hit the outside wall at full song...with the entire field right behind him.

Bouncing off the wall, Johnson’s car turned sideways as it slid toward the infield grass. In the pack, drivers were going this way and that to miss the then five-time champion’s wounded mount. Danica Patrick, trying to get to the low side, clipped David Ragan’s Ford and turned him slightly to the right, and Ragan’s car slammed Johnson’s left-front just in front of the driver’s door at better than 170 miles per hour.

Johnson, hands off the wheel and along for the ride, rode out the impact and when it finally stopped spinning, unlatched the safety net. He was clearly winded from the impact, but otherwise OK other than bumps and bruises. The car, however, was not in good shape, as you can see from the fact that it no longer had a usable front clip. The rest of the car was relatively undamaged.

The car was retired for crash damage, but would have likely been switched out the following year anyway when NASCAR introduced the Gen-6 car. It found its way to Mooresville with several of its sisters, where it serves as a forest-dwelling coral reef of sorts for the flora that decorates the Racecar Graveyard.