Updated at: 11/03/2012 10:36 AM
By STEPHEN HAWKINS
(AP) FORT WORTH, Texas - Jimmie Johnson knows being unable to get into his New York apartment is a small inconvenience compared to what so many others are going through in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.
"It’s impacted us in a small way, to many others in a much greater capacity," Johnson said Friday. "It’s a wild, wild deal up there. We’ve talked to our friends and the experiences they’ve had, and to know how many people through Manhattan and all the surrounding areas that are dealing with all the water issues, it’s a sad thing."
The Sprint Cup points leader is joining with his Hendrick Motorsports team and primary sponsor Lowe’s to donate to disaster relief and rebuilding efforts in communities affected by the storm.
Lowe’s has made a $1 million pledge, and will also match Johnson’s earnings at Texas Motor Speedway with a minimum donation of $250,000 to the American Red Cross. With a series-high purse of about $7 million this weekend, Sunday’s winner can earn about $500,000.
Johnson, who is the polesitter for the race, and Hendrick will together donate an additional $48,000.
NASCAR is offering an opportunity for fans to contribute to relief efforts through its website. The site also is hosting an online auction through Nov. 19, allowing fans to bid on autographed NASCAR memorabilia and at-track VIP experiences for the 2013 season.
New Jersey native Martin Truex Jr., who had family and friends affected by the storm, had a sticker on his No. 56 Toyota taking donations through his foundation’s website. Though his parents’ home wasn’t flooded, a tree fell on and crushed the first vehicle he owned, an old Jeep.
Truex is from Mayetta, N.J., which is about 30 miles north of Atlantic City.
The Manhattan apartment owned by Johnson and his wife, Chandra, isn’t their primary residence and they weren’t there during the storm. Johnson said the building was evacuated after the bottom two floors, which are underground, were flooded and the main lobby was damaged.
"Myself, Hendrick Motorsports and Lowe’s are proud and happy and more than willing to donate money to the disaster relief fund," Johnson said. "It’s something that Lowe’s is very passionate is about, and Hendrick Motorsports and myself certainly are going to join in and support and help spread the word and hopefully influence others to donate."
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)