Battle of superheroes set for Fontana

Jimmie Johnson (L), driver of the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet, talks to Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Jimmie Johnson (L), driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, talks to Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

AVONDALE, Ariz. –Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. will square off next weekend at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., with the liveries of rival superheroes Superman and Batman prominently displayed on the hoods of their cars.

As part of a promotion for the film “Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice,” Johnson’s No. 48 Chevrolet will feature the large, unmistakable Superman “S” in the primary sponsorship position. Earnhardt’s No. 88 Chevy features Batman above the primary sponsor Nationwide Insurance’s logo.

The choice of Johnson as Superman is appropriate. During his run of five straight championship from 2006 through 2010, he earned that very nickname.

“I didn’t have a say, but I was very happy to end up with Superman,” Johnson said on Friday at Phoenix International Raceway. “I think Mark Martin called me that years ago, and some have used that reference in a nickname from time to time.

“I feel like it was much more fitting than Batman. Superman is going to kick Batman’s butt—bottom line.”

Earnhardt may have something to say about Johnson’s assertion. The association with Batman has been serendipitous for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ perennial most popular driver.

When Earnhardt drove a Batman-themed car promoting “The Dark Knight Rises” at Michigan in 2012, he broke a 143-race drought, winning for the first time since 2008.

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