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Jimmie Johnson and the Lowe’s team had to fall to the back of the field at the start of the Daytona 500 because the team was forced to race a backup car. Johnson remained quiet for the first half of The Great American Race but had speed before the rain came. He restarted 38th after the 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay, but moved up 15th by Lap 55. Johnson catapulted in the following laps, moving into the runner-up position by Lap 80. After his first green-flag pit stop following the six-hour rain delay, Johnson moved the third position by the halfway point and was running second by Lap 106, just ahead of teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. He took the lead by Lap 108, pacing the field for eight laps. He fell back into the runner-up position for five laps before reclaiming the lead at Lap 121. He reported to crew chief Chad Knaus at Lap 124 that the bottom line might be faster. Johnson pulled into pit road at Lap 128 for right side tires, but quickly moved into the fourth position one lap later. He then moved into the runner-up position by Lap 133 behind leader Earnhardt Jr. With 50 miles to go, Johnson took right side tires at his final green-flag pit stop of the night. Johnson moved back into the runner-up position with 30 laps to go. However, Johnson was sixth in line before the green-white-checkered flag finish. He finished fifth behind winner Earnhardt Jr.
TALK ABOUT DALE EARNHARDT, JR. WINNING THE DAYTONA 500:
“I want to talk about my teammate and the awesome job he did and how proud I am of Hendrick Motorsports and the 48/88 shop. Steve Letarte and all those guys, Junior included obviously just very happy for them. He has been knocking on the door here at the 500 for a lot of years and got it done tonight. He did an awesome job.”
TELL US ABOUT YOUR RUN. WHAT IS IT LIKE IN THE LAST FEW LAPS OF THESE RACES?
“If you can be the lead car and control the lanes like Junior did there in the closing laps that is the spot to be in. It’s not an easy job by any means, but I was trying to get in that position and got in the outside lane. I got to the head of the outside lane and it just never really materialized and I slid back some. A solid performance and just real happy for everybody at Hendrick Motorsports.”
Hendrick Motorsports finishers: Earnhardt Jr. (1st), Jeff Gordon (3rd), Kasey Kahne (31st ).
Next Race: Phoenix International Raceway, Sunday March 2nd : 3 p.m. ET on FOX