Jimmie Johnson is no stranger to turning laps in Las Vegas, but Thursday's experience - his first on the famed High Roller - was certainly unique for the four-time winner of Las Vegas Motor Speedway's Kobalt 400.
Johnson, the six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, joined media and a select group of lucky fans for a few circuits around the world's largest observation wheel to promote the upcoming Kobalt 400, which returns to Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 8.
"First trip on the High Roller; the lap speeds weren't that high, but the altitude is certainly shocking," Johnson said of the views, some 550 feet above the Las Vegas Strip. "You start looking around and you realize you're really high up there."
Despite four Kobalt 400 wins on his resumé - a record among all drivers - Johnson knows that adding a coveted Kobalt wrench to his trophy case will be no easy task. But win or lose, he said he always enjoys racing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
"The track makes you step it up," he said. "(Turns) 3 and 4 sit in the sun all day, so it's going to be slick. You have to be smart about lane selection in Turn 1. And then the billboards provide a bunch of shade and give you a lot of grip. I love the fact that the track throws these challenges at you and it's not a cookie-cutter, chase-the-bottom, follow-the-leader track. You've got to show up and wheel it."
The Kobalt 400 is the main event of a packed racing weekend that kicks off with two nights of World of Outlaws racing at the Dirt Track on Wednesday, March 4 and Thursday, March 5. Stratosphere Pole Day follows on Friday, March 6 and the Boyd Gaming 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race is Saturday, March 7. Tickets for all events remain available at www.lvms.com or 1-800-644-4444. Fans also may purchase Neon Garage, Lucky 7 preferred parking and driver introduction passes, which will allow them closer access to all pre-race activities, including a performance by Craig Wayne Boyd.