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Lighthearted Johnson not lacking focus for Sunday's run at Talladega

Lighthearted Johnson not lacking focus for Sunday's run at Talladega

TALLADEGA, Ala. – Jimmie Johnson jokes that racing at Talladega Superspeedway means he gets somewhat of a break leading up to Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event, but the same can’t be said for his crew.

“Plate races are pretty easy to prepare for from a driver’s standpoint,” said Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet. “But on the flip side, especially in qualifying, the speed depends on the work that’s done at the shop. It’s somewhat of an off weekend for the drivers from a work standpoint, but for the crews it’s one of the most difficult weeks.”

The No. 48 team has some research to lean on in preparation for Sunday’s event, which starts at 1 p.m. ET and will be televised on FOX. During 18 Cup appearances at the 2.66-mile speedway, Johnson has earned one win, four top-five finishes and eight top-10s. Johnson went to Victory Lane there in 2006. In this race last year, he was running 16th and contending for his second victory there, when he was collected in an accident on the backstretch with six laps to go.

The five-time defending Sprint Cup champion understands that that the two-car tandem style of racing creates more opportunities for team strategy, but the close style of racing also brings the threat of a multi-car wreck in large draft packs.

“If we‘re all in a big pack, regardless of the tandem pushing or not, your chances of a big crash are there,” Johnson said. “Then if we get into a spread out situation where cars are separated, you might have a single car spin or something like that. It just depends on where the pack is.”

Johnson will pilot Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 48-628 in Sunday’s Cup event at the superspeedway. This is the same chassis Johnson raced in February at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.