CONCORD, N.C. -- Jimmie Johnson finished in third place for Sunday’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway – his best result in 2020 so far.
It was a rallying effort for Johnson, who started in 24th at the .533-mile track.
“Yeah, wild and crazy night for sure,” he said. “Very strong performance for us. Really proud of the guys keeping our chins up through the last four weeks. We've had fast cars, really haven't had the results to show for it.
“… I wish there were more long runs because our car didn't have the short run speed in it. But we still salvaged a great day out of it with the Ally Chevy.”
Johnson was in sixth during the final restart and slid into the top three in the last laps, which saw Chase Elliott get loose, slide into another driver and drop to 22nd in the finish.
Johnson admitted that the short-track package was more difficult for him compared to the 1.5-mile packages. He added the No. 48 team will be looking into how to refine the packages a little more to prepare for the playoffs at the end of the season.
Since NASCAR’s return to racing, Johnson said he’s impressed with how well his team has done. The field took on five races in a 14-day span, and in three of those races Johnson finished 11th or better.
"We're excited. I felt like when the lockdown and quarantine started, we had momentum on our side. I was really bummed that we couldn't see that through,” he said. “Then to sit on ice for eight, nine weeks, whatever it ended up being, then come back and really actually be stronger than we were before the lockdown happened is really a testament to everybody at Hendrick (Motorsports), the leadership on (crew chief) Cliff (Daniels') side, what he's doing with these crew guys."
Despite the difficulties that Bristol brings, Johnson said he couldn’t be more pleased with how the revamped Chevrolet Camaros are driving. This season marks the first year the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LEs have run.
"Last year it was pretty obvious when we raced the 550 package we had trouble," Johnson said. "We couldn't trim the car out to the lengths of the other manufacturers. After NASCAR studied it hard, they realized they needed to do something. They let us have a new car this year.
“Between that and a new engine block that they approved for the year, the engine block is a lot lighter and helps on days like (Sunday).”
Now Johnson is looking ahead to Atlanta Motor Speedway, which is where the field was supposed to go before the season was put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.
At the Georgia track, he has five career victories, 14 top-five finishes and 16 top-10s.
“I'm really excited to go back to Atlanta,” Johnson said. “It's one of my favorite racetracks to compete at. Been able to win there over the years. Of late it's been tough for us. I really expect us to have a strong performance there.