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Johnson eager to begin Cup season Sunday at Daytona

Johnson eager to begin Cup season Sunday at Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s/KOBALT Tools Chevrolet, is ready to get the NASCAR Sprint Cup season started Sunday at Daytona International Speedway.

“We’re ready to go,” Johnson said. “It is obviously going to be exciting with the new surface and changes that have taken place in the sport. We have worked really hard over this offseason to get our stuff right, and we’re looking forward to kicking off the season and doing it in fine fashion.”

Johnson finished 11th in his Gatorade Duel 150 on Thursday, Feb. 17, and he will line up 23rd for the Daytona 500. He won the Daytona 500 in 2006 and has six top-five finishes and nine top-10s in 18 Cup starts at the track.

Last year was significant for Johnson, who welcomed the birth of his daughter Genevieve in July, scored his fifth consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship in November and was named Driver of the Year for the fourth time. But the El Cajon, Calif., native isn’t entering the 2011 season with a complacent attitude.

“You can always get beat,” Johnson said.  “Last year we were reminded what we’re made of, and we’re going to carry that into next year.  A dream season would be to clip off a sixth championship in a row.”

During the offseason, competitors mentioned that stopping Johnson's run is a motivating factor for the 2011 season. 

“We have set the mark,” Johnson said. “They want to take us down, and I love it; let’s go.”

The Daytona 500 will air Sunday at 1 p.m. ET on FOX.