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Warner Hodgdon (1982–85)
|Base||Ronda, North Carolina, United States|
|Series||NASCAR Winston Cup Series|
|Race drivers||Bobby Isaac|
A. J. Foyt
McDonald's Maxwell House Coffee
|Drivers' Championships||6 (1976, 1977, 1978. 1981, 1982, 1985)|
Junior Johnson & Associates (formerly Johnson Hodgdon Racing) was a NASCAR team that ran in the Winston Cup Series from 1953 to 1995. The team was run by former driver Junior Johnson and was best known for fielding cars for legendary talents such as Cale Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip, Neil Bonnett, Terry Labonte, Bill Elliott, Geoffrey Bodine, and Sterling Marlin.
Johnson's team started out in 1953 with him driving a No. 75 Oldsmobile at the Southern 500. The team was inactive for nearly a decade, but returned in the 1960s. Johnson scored 13 wins in 1965, and A. J. Foyt, Bobby Issac, Gordon Johncock, and Curtis Turner drove for Johnson the following year with no wins. Darel Dieringer scored 6 poles and one win at North Wilkesboro Speedway. LeeRoy Yarbrough joined Johnson in 1968, starting slowly but winning at Atlanta and Trenton. 1969 would be far more successful, as Yarbrough not only won that year's Daytona 500, but winning the Rebel 400 and the World 600, becoming the first driver to win NASCAR's "Triple Crown". Yarbrough added 4 more wins to his season total. With the manufacturer withdrawal in 1970, Johnson scaled back operations, fielding the No. 98 for one race drives for Donnie Allison at North Wilkesboro, Fred Lorenzen at Darlington, and David Pearson at Martinsville. Yarbrough returned later that year, winning at Charlotte. Yarbrough and Johnson entered only 4 events the following year, and remained inactive for two years.
In 1974, Johnson's team was revived when Canadian rookie Earl Ross left Allan Brooke's operation. He was later joined by Cale Yarborough. Ross would win at Martinsville and claim ROTY honors, while Yarborough scored 4 wins. Ross left Johnson's team after 1974, with Yarborough staying on. Tyson Foods replaced Carling as primary sponsor in 1975, and Yarborough would score three consecutive championships with Johnson from 1976 to 1978. Cale nearly won the 1979 Daytona 500, but was involved in a confrontation between himself and the Allison brothers on the final lap. After 1980, Cale wanted to cut back on his schedule to spend time with his family so he and Junior parted ways after that year. Cale recommended Darrell Waltrip, who came over from DiGard Motorsports with Mountain Dew, along with crew chief Tim Brewer. Johnson and Waltrip grabbed 12 victories and the 1981 championship. After Brewer moved on to other ventures, jackman Jeff Hammond stepped up to crew chief, grabbing 12 more wins and holding off Bobby Allison for the 1982 Championship. Additionally, Johnson sold 50% of his business to California investor Warner W. Hodgdon in 1982, forming Johnson Hodgdon Racing until 1985..
For 1983, the team changed sponsors to Pepsi. Waltrip did not start off the season well, having a hard crash at the Daytona 500. Waltrip and Allison once again dueled for the Winston Cup championship. Waltrip got up to 2nd in points by Michigan, and despite grabbing wins at Bristol and North Wilkesboro late in the season, was unable to catch Allison and DiGard for the championship.
In order to win the championship in 1984, Johnson gained new sponsorship Anheuser-Busch through its Budweiser brand, and once again expanded to 2 cars. The No. 11 driven by Waltrip and the No. 12 driven by Neil Bonnett and crew chiefed by Doug Richert. The duo were a dominant force, scoring 16 wins between 1984 and 1986, with Darrell winning the 1985 championship. However, Bonnett left after 1986 for RahMoc Enterprises while Waltrip, concerned about his own lifestyle, asked Johnson for a raise and was fired the same year, departing for Hendrick Motorsports along with Hammond. Johnson would downsize to only the 11 for 1987, running with Terry Labonte. Though Brewer returned to the team as crew chief, Labonte scored only 4 wins between 1987 and 1989. Labonte departed for the Precision Products Racing team for the 1990 season after planning to run his own independent team.
In 1990, Junior Johnson, owner of one of the top NASCAR teams, approached Alan Kulwicki at the beginning of the 1990 season to try to get him to replace Terry Labonte in the No. 11 Budweiser Ford. Kulwicki declined, stating that he was more interested in running his own team.
Before the 1991 season, Zerex ended their sponsorship of Kulwicki's team. Junior Johnson came calling again. Kulwicki turned down Johnson's $1 million offer thinking that he had secured a sponsorship deal with Maxwell House Coffee. Johnson then went to Maxwell House himself and obtained the sponsorship for his new car, which Sterling Marlin was hired to drive instead.
For 1990, Geoffrey Bodine joined Johnson from Hendrick Motorsports for 1990 and 1991. Bodine finished 3rd in points in 1990 with 3 wins. In 1991, Johnson revived his second car, the No. 22 with Sterling Marlin behind the wheel with Maxwell House sponsoring. However, Bodine finished a dismal 14th in points while Marlin finished seventh with no victories. Bodine departed Johnson's team for Bud Moore Engineering and was replaced by 1988 champion Bill Elliott for 1992. Elliott and Johnson won 5 races that year, but lost the championship by 10 points to Alan Kulwicki. Marlin left Johnson's team for Stavola Brothers Racing after the 1992 season. Elliott stayed on with the No. 11 team, while the No. 22 became the No. 27 and hired Hut Stricklin with sponsorship from McDonald's. Elliott and Stricklin were both winless in 1993.
Despite the dismal 1993 season, Elliott returned for 1994, and Johnson replaced Stricklin with Jimmy Spencer. Spencer would grab 2 wins that year, including a 1-2 with Elliott at the Pepsi 400, while road racer Tommy Kendall and Jeff Green drove one race each. Elliott would return to victory lane that year at Darlington, but left Johnson at season's end to form his own team. Johnson hired Geoff's brother Brett Bodine to drive the No. 11 in 1995 with Lowe's. Loy Allen drove the #27 with sponsorship from Hooters which he bought with him from Tri-Star Motorsport’s Elton Sawyer drove the 27 with Hooters for 20 races for Rookie of the Year honors, while Jimmy Horton and Greg Sacks drove the car for one race each. The organization struggled, managing only 2 top-10s with Bodine.
Johnson eventually sold off both cars for 1996, the No. 11 sticking with Brett Bodine to form Brett Bodine Racing, and the No. 27 team with Sawyer would be bought out by attorney David Blair to form David Blair Motorsports.
Team Statistics (Modern Era)
Car No. 11 results
Car No. 27 results
- Smith, Walt. "Junior Johnson and Darrell Waltrip have formed NASCAR's most elite team". UPI. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
- Golenbock, Peter (1998). The Last Lap. Macmillan. pp. 345–362. ISBN 0-02-862147-6.