BRISTOL, Tenn. -- What the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet SS team may have been missing at the beginning of the 2017 season seems to have been found.
Jimmie Johnson drove to Victory Lane at Texas Motor Speedway following a six-race dry spell to kick off the season.
He then countered that victory with another, going back-to-back after claiming a win Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Johnson ran inside the top five the majority of the day, showing the competitiveness of the No. 48 Lowe's team.
"It was just very solid," Johnson said of Sunday's race at Bristol. "Same thing at Texas. I think that was the piece we were lacking to start the season. Don't know why, don't know what it was, but our cars have been very capable of running up front and it's been nice these last two weeks to execute from the start of the race."
No. 48 team crew chief Chad Knaus said that both the prior win at Texas, along with the off-weekend between races, combined to allow the team to show up at Bristol with the right mindset.
"After securing a win last week, it obviously takes a huge load off of your shoulders, and being able to come in here this week confident and relaxed," Knaus explained. "We really came in knowing that the track was going to be significantly different with the way they applied the traction compound on the bottom of the racetrack. We knew we were going to be chasing it, so coming in here with a preconceived idea of what it was that we were going to need to have on the race car was really not what we needed to do, and we didn't."
Knaus said the team had to be very open-minded at the Tennessee oval and that the "chaos" of the weekend may have played in their favor.
"We had a very open approach," Knaus noted. "Jimmie had an open approach. He had to adjust and change some things that he was doing. We had to change the way that we were setting up the race car, and man, Saturday afternoon it was really nice to see what we had going on."
One thing the team had going for them was a fast race car.
"Coming in here this weekend with an open mind, even though frustration did come in a little bit," the crew chief said, "that's what allowed us to get the car as what it was, and I think our car was great. I saw him (Johnson) be able to do some things with the race car that we haven't been able to do with our cars here in the past. Not just that it was fast but the way he was able to drive it, and all that was a direct result of what he was giving us for input."
Input that, Knaus said, is "huge" in the grand scheme of things.
"The box that we operate in now is so tight and narrow," Knaus said, "that the inputs that the drivers use are what change the pitch, the heave, the roll, the longitudinal, lateral movement of the race car. What they do is really key. Jimmie uses all of his tools very, very well. He drives with feel."
And Johnson feels as though the team is on the right track to have a successful season.
"The race itself, execution has been flawless," the driver said. "Great race cars. I really think (we've) found something we've been looking for for a while here and made a huge difference."