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It was a long week for the driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet fielded by Hendrick Motorsports in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. And while there was certainly no rest for the wicked after the five-time champion won the Daytona 500 last Sunday, Johnson wouldn’t deny that it was wicked awesome and well worth the chaos that ensued.
Highlights of the week: visits to the Late Show with David Letterman and Good Morning America, cupcake making in Los Angeles, stops in Las Vegas, Dallas and New York, a contract extension with Johnson’s longstanding sponsor, Lowe’s, and a late-night video that went viral with the 48 crew dancing on the front stretch of Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and crew chief Chad Knaus popping wheelies on a dirt bike.
Now, a little rest is in order as Johnson gets back to his day job Friday morning at Phoenix International Raceway. His victory in the Great American Race has him atop the point standings. It’s a precarious hold, but one he looks to keep as he visits the mile oval in the Arizona desert.
Johnson’s record has been strong at Phoenix. He has 12 top-five finishes and 15 top-10s in 19 starts. But, in typical Team 48 fashion, he never wants to stop improving on those finishes. In fact, Johnson is slated for double duty in the No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet fielded by JR Motorsports in Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race.
Rest may have been at a premium after winning the sport’s premiere event, but there were enough awesome perks that Johnson is sure to say it was a wicked good time.
Read below for Johnson's thoughts on the past week and Phoenix:
Assess the start to the season and how do you see the No. 48 team over the course of the next few races?
“Definitely a great start for the team. When we were sitting discussing things before the season started, we felt good about the 500, but we’re really excited for everything after the 500. So, very hopeful and excited that our No. 48 car will be really fast in Phoenix, Vegas, moving forward. I think it’s going to be a very strong year for us.”
How is the new track configuration, and will anything be different this time around?
“I expect each time we go back that the groove will get a little wider. That just comes with age. The more the track ages, the more character it will get. It’s a great track and the reconfiguration is good. It just takes a little while once a track is repaved for things to start to age and the grooves to come in and the racing kind of evolves. We started to see it last year and I expect more of it again this time around.”
Why are you running the Nationwide race for Junior Motorsports in the No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet?
“Honestly, we race at Phoenix twice a year and, the second time we come here, it’s typically been a pretty important race for us. With this new configuration, it couldn’t hurt to get a little more track time. I joked earlier that I don’t have the best Nationwide record. I just hope I don’t disappoint my team owner. He might not have me back.”