Four-time defending Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson made sure 27 schools in California, North Carolina and Oklahoma had a nice Christmas by donating $922,000 to help with educational programs.
Included was a $100,000 donation to create a science, technology, engineering and mathematics laboratory at Emerald High School in El Cajon, Calif.; a $62,061 donation to the Ashley Park Elementary in Charlotte, N.C., to build a science lab; and, a $41,936 donation to Sadler Arts Academy in Muskogee, Okla., to build an outdoor classroom.
In all, the Jimmie Johnson Foundation gave $347,000 toward science and technology needs, $357,000 for outdoor classrooms, playgrounds and athletic facilities, and $27,000 for accelerated reading programs.
California was picked because it's Johnson's home state; North Carolina was picked because that's where he and his wife, Chandra , now live; Oklahoma was picked because that's Chandra's home state.
"It was amazing to review the proposals and read first hand about the pressing needs of our schools," Chandra Johnson said. "I am particularly excited about the programs in Oklahoma as this is our first opportunity to give back to my hometown."
Johnson attended two of the schools in El Cajon -- Greenfield Middle and Granite Hills. Greenfield got $31,572 for new lunchroom equipment; Granite Hills got $31,155 to make improvements to its football stadium.
ALL IN A ROW: Regan Smith will have a new competition director, car chief and crew chief for the new season.
Smith's No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet finished 27th in the Sprint Cup championship last season. Since then, the team went on a shopping spree to improve their front office.
Former Richard Petty Motorsports vice president Mark McArdle is the new competition director; Pete Rondeau , who was in charge of research and development at Petty, is the new car chief; and former Michael Waltrip Racing engineer Ryan Coniam is the new crew chief.
SHUTTING DOWN: A year ago CJM Racing hit the Nationwide Series at full speed. The team had it all -- engineering and mechanical support from Joe Gibbs Racing, a national sponsor and driver Scott Lagasse Jr.
Now the team is out of business.
Co-owners Tony and Bryan Mullet replaced Lagasse six months into the season although he was a rookie ranked among the top-10. That seemed to trigger a downward spiral that led to the team closing its doors.