CONCORD, N.C. – Things on the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 team are shaking up in 2019.
Last season wasn’t one that lived up to the expectations of seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team. But that, new No. 48 team crew chief Kevin Meendering said, is only serving as an extra motivator for the new year ahead.
“I think after the struggles he had last year, he wants to win,” Meendering said of Johnson. “That’s his mentality. He’s going to do whatever it takes. He’s going to push himself past the limit and we’ll be back in Victory Lane this year.”
And the seven-time champion driver appreciated his crew chief’s confidence in a trip to Victory Lane in 2019.
“That feels great,” Johnson said. “I can’t wait to get there with him.”
With Ally Financial on board as a full-season primary partner for the No. 48 team starting in 2019, there is a lot to look forward to this season.
“It has been a big offseason of change,” Johnson said. “A lot of new names and faces, there’s just something exciting about it. The folks at Ally have been tremendous to deal with and work with. There’s a lot of energy and a lot of excitement around the program.”
With a new partner, new crew chief and even a new rules package in the NASCAR Cup Series this season, Johnson is energized about what’s to come. And Johnson has appreciated Meendering’s approach as they build their relationship in the midst of all that change.
“As time has gone on, I’ve learned more about him and he doesn’t get rattled easily,” Johnson said of his crew chief. “He believes in himself and his work ethic and data and we’re going to put our heads down and work in the same direction and figure it out. We’re just going to stay focused and work.”
With so much success in his career, Johnson expressed that he still has a distinct “hunger” for a win this season. Maybe even more than ever.
“It’s honestly never been higher,” he said. “The past is great, and I’ve won seven championships and 83 races, but that’s then. This is now. I’m still as hungry, focused and dedicated as ever. Having a year like I did last year also ramps up the intensity. So, I’m just ready to get going.”
Johnson acknowledged that he heard the doubters on social media at times last season, but he’s never shied away from proving those doubters wrong – particularly by finding Victory Lane.
“I can’t wait to win and win often and think up something really nice to say back to all those people who suggested I was washed up and done,” Johnson smiled.