Jimmie Johnson to Drive Cadillac CTS-V in Charlotte SPEED GT Race
Reigning NASCAR Nextel Cup champion Jimmie Johnson will drive Team Cadillac’s No. 16 CTS-V in the SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on Thursday night, May 24, 2007. The 50-minute race, the fourth round of the 10-race SPEED GT series, will take place on the track’s 1.5-mile banked oval with modifications to introduce road racing elements to the course. The SPEED GT race will follow NASCAR Nextel Cup qualifying for the Coca-Cola 600.
"I’ve driven thousands of laps at Lowe’s Motor Speedway and enjoyed success there, but it’s going to be a new experience for me to turn right as well as left when I race in the SPEED GT event in Charlotte," said Johnson. "I’ve always enjoyed driving different kinds of vehicles, so I’m looking forward to racing against sports cars with the Cadillac CTS-V sedan.
"When I tested with Team Cadillac on the Sebring road course in February, I discovered that the Cadillac CTS-V race car’s handling and braking are similar to the setups we use in NASCAR Nextel Cup road races," Johnson continued. "I’m hoping that my experience at Lowe’s Motor Speedway will benefit the team because we only have one day to practice, qualify and race. I really enjoyed working with the Team Cadillac crew and my teammates Andy Pilgrim and Lawson Aschenbach during the test, and I think we’ll be able to get our CTS-V race cars up to speed quickly on both the oval and the road course sections at Lowe’s Motor Speedway."
Johnson is one of America’s most versatile racers. He’s raced motorcycles, off-road trucks, ASA stock cars, and Daytona Prototypes. Johnson is scheduled to participate in a one-day SCCA Pro Racing test at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on March 19 before making his SPEED GT debut in May.
"As we’ve been reinventing and rebuilding the Cadillac brand over the past several years, we’ve made the conscious strategic decision to align Cadillac with the best of the best in everything we do," said Cadillac general manager Jim Taylor. "We’ll have the past two SPEED GT champions, Andy and Lawson, for the full 2007 season, and we’re absolutely thrilled to have 2006 NASCAR Nextel Cup champion Jimmie Johnson drive our third CTS-V in the upcoming Charlotte race."
The Cadillac CTS-V race cars that compete in the SPEED GT championship are based on the production Cadillac CTS-V performance luxury sedan. The Cadillac CTS-V race cars have a base weight of 3100 pounds and are powered by 6.0-liter fuel-injected GM small-block V-8s that produce 500 horsepower with a series-mandated intake restrictor. All cars in the SPEED GT race on shaved Toyo street tires.
"We’re proud to have Jimmie as a member of the GM family, and we appreciate the cooperation between Chevrolet, Cadillac, GM Racing and Hendrick Motorsports that made this program possible," said Steve Wesoloski, GM Road Racing Group manager. "This is a great opportunity to have the defending NASCAR Nextel Cup champion compete in one of our GM road racing programs, and it will certainly put the SPEED World Challenge Series in the spotlight."
Since entering the SPEED GT series in 2004, Team Cadillac has won nine races and seven poles, and swept the manufacturers and drivers championships in 2005. The 2007 SPEED World Challenge GT series will kick off at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Fla., on March 16, 2007.