Jimmie Johnson scored his seventh career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida on Sunday night. The paved journey to that championship began in 1997 at Southern National Motorsports Park in Lucama, North Carolina.
Johnson’s roots are deep in off road and Trophy Truck racing, but in 1997, Johnson made the move to asphalt racing prior to competing full-time in the American Speed Association (ASA) in 1998. In 2015, Johnson reflected on his first time in a stock car, posting an image of himself climbing out of Bud Gebben's ASA car at Southern National Motorsports Park in 1997 on Instagram.
Johnson, 41, from El Cajon, California started in three ASA races in 1997, scoring a seventh place finish at Southern National Motorsports Park – his first top-10 finish on asphalt. 19 years later, Johnson would hoist his seventh Sprint Cup championship trophy before a primetime audience in Homestead, Florida – joining only Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt as seven time series champions.
Earlier this season, Denny Hamlin, who won the Southern National Motorsports Park track championship in 2003, won the Daytona 500. Hamlin also won the Thanksgiving Classic in 2003 and went on to win it again in 2007.
Throughout the years, Southern National Motorsports Park has produced and seen many future superstars.
Next weekend, more potential future superstars will make their way to Southern National Motorsports Park for the three day, 12 race Thanksgiving Classic, which will be headlined by a 200 lap Late Model Stock Car race on Sunday, November 27th.