The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has just shown off a special piece of race equipment. Jimmie Johnson has revealed the helmet that he will wear during his inaugural Indy 500, which he and Blake Shelton created to support the American Legion.
Johnson showed off the new lid during a May 25 appearance on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” He first explained the differences between NASCAR Cup Series cars and those in the IndyCar Series before detailing what he sees while driving around 240 mph. Johnson’s younger daughter, Lydia, then crashed the interview to showcase the new helmet.
As Johnson explained, there were some special touches added to this red, white, and blue Indy 500 helmet. One side featured Blake Shelton’s brother and his father in their uniforms. The other side had Johnson’s grandfather in his uniform. Jets also flew across the top of the helmet.
As Johnson explained, he and Shelton came up with the design, but they turned to an expert to bring it to life. Troy Lee Designs, one of the top custom helmet design companies in existence, made the ideas a reality and set the stage for Johnson’s first Indy 500 start. TLD has a sizable customer base featuring competitors from motocross and mountain biking, but the company has also worked with Austin Cindric.
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One Idea Did Not Make the Final Design
The helmet featured special touches that had ties to both Johnson and Shelton. The photos of their family members with military service were obviously the most important. Though there was one request that did not make the cut.
“Really, you will appreciate this a lot,” Johnson told Fallon. “Blake wanted to sew in a mullet into the back of the helmet. That was like the one thing that he really wanted in the helmet. … He was like, ‘Man, it will be so cool. We’ll put a mullet in the back, you’ll put your helmet on.”
The helmet on display during “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” did not have a mullet as Shelton requested. The expectation is that the wig will not drape down over the back of Johnson’s firesuit. However, the seven-time Cup Series champion noted that Shelton will be in attendance at the Indy 500 on May 29, so “we will see what happens.”
Johnson Will Put the Helmet on Display Early
The future Hall of Famer will showcase the helmet as he climbs into his No. 48 Honda and prepares for the prestigious race. He will line up near the front of the pack after reaching the top-12 in qualifying.
Johnson will line up on the fourth row for the Indy 500 after posting a qualifying speed of 231.264 mph as his four-lap average. He will start the race next to Will Power and Takuma Sato. Meanwhile, Johnson’s teammate Scott Dixon will start from the pole after posting a four-lap average of 234.046 mph.
Starting on the fourth row does not mean that Johnson is automatically out of contention for the Indy 500 win. Alexander Rossi achieved this feat in 2016 after starting 11th overall in the lineup. Tony Kanaan also did so in 2013 after starting 12th.
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