FORT WORTH, Texas -- Sunday's victory at Texas Motor Speedway didn't just fall into Jimmie Johnson's lap -- he had to earn it "the old-fashioned way."
Following a post-qualifying spin that resulted in tire damage, the No. 48 Lowe's team chose to start Sunday's race with a fresh set of Goodyear tires, which sent them to the rear of the field for the green flag.
Johnson raced his way to just outside the top 10 in 11th before taking the green-checkered flag to end Stage 1.
"The first stage we had to start last," Johnson said, "and then the way strategy played out for the second stage, we elected to stay out and virtually the whole field came down for tires and fuel and that rotated me back to 21st I think it was on that next restart. So we didn't have any luck with strategy, stages, the cautions where they fell. It was pretty tough on us to be honest. We had to do it the old fashioned way."
His momentum continued in Stage 2 as he entered the top 10 to earn bonus points by finishing in the runner-up position.
"I felt like we were really in the zone with the car and the communication we were having and making the car faster," Johnson said. "But track position, I thought we were going to be totally out of luck with track position today. To be able to pass as many cars as we did was out of the ordinary."
The No. 48 Lowe's team did not have as strong a start to the 2017 season as they have in seasons past. With only one top-10 finish in the first six races of the season, Johnson headed into Sunday's race at Texas 14th in points.
The victory propelled him in the standings to just outside the top 10 in 11th.
Johnson acknowledged that mistakes have set the team back so far this season, but that Sunday's performance showed what they are capable of.
"Pit road speeding violations, spinning out, crashes, all those things, just not executing cleanly as a group put us where we were," the driver said. "Then to come out today and really face a lot of adversity, starting last, the way Stage 2 strategy worked out -- I think I restarted 21st and then to be able to drive from there all the way up to second. We executed top to bottom today, and that's what we needed to do."
While it may not have been the start to the season the team was looking for, Johnson knew their hard work would pay off.
"I had to be so patient," he said, "and in the end, the patience kind of paid off for me."