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CONCORD, N.C. -- After cementing himself as a seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, Jimmie Johnson said in Las Vegas that "eight is absolutely possible."

With that historic goal on the horizon, No. 48 team crew chief Chad Knaus explained how the start of the 2017 season will be a little different based on how 2016 ended.

"Obviously when you show up in Daytona as the defending champion, you’ve got a bit of a bullseye on your back," Knaus said. "We like that. We’ve operated in that situation before with the No. 48 team, so I’m looking forward to that."

Knaus said it's always an honor to be able to kick off the season with the front garage stall, having Lowe's proudly displayed "in front of everybody."

The crew chief noted that the organization's history at Daytona gives him confidence that the season-opener can set a positive tone for the rest of the campaign.

"I think Daytona is going to go well for us," he said. "Obviously everybody at Hendrick Motorsports works really hard on our superspeedway program but then the meat of it starts right away with going into Atlanta and then the West Coast races."

The chase toward a record eighth Cup championship for Johnson, Knaus and the No. 48 team begins next month with the Feb. 26 Daytona 500.

"It’s going to be a fun season," Knaus said. "I’m looking forward to it.”