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Making his 22nd NASCAR Sprint Cup start at Phoenix, Johnson quickly moved into the third position by Lap 3 beside teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. However, Johnson lost three positions coming off pit road after the competition caution on Lap 35. He told crew chief Chad Knaus that he was losing rear tire grip. Nevertheless, Johnson moved into the third position by Lap 112, before taking his first green-flag pit stop. By the halfway point, he was running in fifth consistently in front of teammate Jeff Gordon. At Lap 165, Johnson told Knaus he was still feeling loose, electing for a four-tire change and chassis adjustment at the next yellow-flag pit stop at Lap 164. By Lap 185, he was running fifth behind teammate Earnhardt. With 86 laps to go, Johnson moved into fourth. Knaus called Johnson into pit road during the fifth caution, opting for a four-tire change and chassis adjustment. He broke into the Top 10 with 60 laps to go under green and moved into sixth just before the sixth caution. Before the final caution, Johnson moved into the fifth position with 19 laps to go and finished in sixth. Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing won the event.
“I’m looking forward to the test in Las Vegas on Thursday. We were so focused on winning the 2013 championship we were a little behind some teams for 2014. We expected that so next weekend will be great for us. Today was a good run, we worked on the car throughout the day and had a solid finish. (Kevin) Harvick was the class of the field.”
HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS FINISHERS: Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (2nd), Jeff Gordon (5th), Kasey Kahne (11th).
NEXT UP: KOBALT Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway- Sunday, March 9th, 3pm ET on FOX/MRN