CONCORD, N.C. – Before Daytona Speedweeks got underway, No. 48 team crew chief Kevin Meendering made a prediction.
“We’ll be back in Victory Lane this year,” he said.
It didn’t take long.
Meendering, Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team won the season-opening exhibition race The Clash Sunday at Daytona International Speedway.
“Just a really big day for the 48 team, and just building the confidence that we're going to need to carry into the season,” Johnson said. “Hopefully we can get it done again next weekend. Great way to start.”
In addition to the win in The Clash, Johnson also posted the third-fastest qualifying time earlier on Sunday, part of a one-two-three-four Daytona 500 qualifying effort for Hendrick Motorsports.
The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion was proud of how the No. 48 team worked together to accomplish both feats.
“It's a great first step today to get first reps with Kevin, a lot of new members on the team, to bring Ally into the sport with a victory and qualifying third,” he said.
Meendering noted the importance of continuity on the No. 48 team, even with some new faces joining the fray.
“I inherited a great core group of guys with the 48 team,” he explained. “There's a strong foundation there, and the team really works well together, and it jells together, and it's made that transition a lot easier.”
With the front row secured for the Daytona 500 and a Clash victory in the books, Sunday was one to remember for Hendrick Motorsports.
With just six days until the Daytona 500, the organization will look to keep up its winning streak.
“Everybody at Hendrick Motorsports, not just the 48 team, has worked really hard over the offseason,” Meendering said, “and I think some of it showed today.”