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Johnson Testing Daytona, Looking Forward to '07

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 9, 2007) – Day two of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Preseason Thunder testing at Daytona International Speedway brought clear skies and high speeds.

In the midst of Tuesday’s schedule, reigning NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and Daytona 500 champion Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, reflected on his place in the sport.

“I’m glad it’s here,” he said. “I’m happy to be back at the race track. I rolled in thinking, ‘Man, I won here last time we were here for this race!’ At the same time I thought, ‘I’m also the champion!’ It’s been a great, emotional ride for myself [and] for the team.

“We’ve always been confident, but winning the championship, I feel, will really change the way we approach the year. We know it’s time to get back to work.

“We learned more about ourselves through all of that and we’re excited to get into ‘07,” Johnson said. “We feel like the Car of Tomorrow, what it brings and the challenges for that car; it’s going to help the No. 48 team and help Hendrick Motorsports. And, with the current car that we have, we feel like we’re on top of things there, as well.”

Johnson arrives in Daytona as one of the more dominant drivers over the past five seasons at this race track.

In five Daytona 500 starts, Johnson has four top-five finishes, including his victory last season. Johnson also has three top-10 finishes in the Pepsi 400. In 10 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races at Daytona, he’s finished off the lead lap only once – in his first Daytona 500 in 2002, when he was one lap down. He won the 2005 Budweiser Shootout exhibition race and finished fifth in his only NASCAR Busch Series start here, in 2001.

“It’s time to look forward to 2007,” Johnson said. “[We’ll] fall back on the confidence of 2006, but we have a whole new set of circumstances to deal with and a whole new year to worry about.”