As NASCAR hits its West Coast swing, seven-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson stopped into the Valley of the Sun today to visit with 970 young and vibrant fans at Estrella Vista STEM Academy in Avondale, AZ, ahead of the TicketGuardian 500 at ISM Raceway.

Johnson spent the afternoon speaking to students on the importance of technology in motorsports and the career opportunities it can afford. Johnson’s visit helped kick off a month-long “Technology in Careers” program at Estrella Vista, an elementary school tailoring its K-8 curriculum to focus on technology and engineering. Afterwards, Johnson took questions from the students, gave away autographed prizes and got an up-close look at what some of the students are working on in their classrooms.

“Our world of racing and STEM just go hand in hand so there’s a natural tie,” Johnson said. “I also find that whenever I’m around kids, I get pulled into their excitement, and the excitement we created here was pretty special. Then they’re going home and taking that excitement to their families. That’s special to me and it was a lot of fun.”

In addition to the assembly and classroom activities, ISM Raceway and Johnson gave every student a free junior ticket to the TicketGuardian 500 on March 10. Students also received ISM Raceway swag such as diecast cars, t-shirts and hats, and all 32 teachers in the school were given four tickets and four INfield access wristbands to reward their top-performing students.

“We’re thrilled to be able to connect with our youngest fans and our local community here in the West Valley,” said Julie Giese, ISM Raceway president. “These students are the future of our fan base and to be able to bring a seven-time NASCAR champion into their school is exciting for these students and the community.”

Johnson will return to the Valley next weekend for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series TicketGuardian 500 on March 10 at ISM Raceway. Tickets are available online at ISMRaceway.com, by phone at 1-866-408-RACE (7223), or in person at the ISM Raceway ticket office.