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CONCORD, N.C. -- With less than two weeks remaining until the 2018 Daytona 500, Jimmie Johnson is on the verge of taking the green flag for his 17th full-time NASCAR Cup Series season.

While all the new changes at Hendrick Motorsports have been set in motion -- including the introduction of the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, a new car number and two new drivers -- Johnson's focus has not changed.

He's still in it to win it.

And the changes around the organization's campus have the veteran driver enthusiastic for the start of the season.

"Excited to have all this new stuff going on around us, from rules internally at Hendrick Motorsports, the new car, my teammates," Johnson said. "I've taken a notebook and pen everywhere I go because everywhere I look, there's something to learn. That's exciting."

And coming off a season that the No. 48 team would rather leave in the rear-view mirror, Johnson and his teammates are embracing change.

After 2017 kicked off on a high note for the Lowe's team with three wins early in the season, it hit a plateau, logging only four top-five finishes and 11 top-10s on the season.

"We kept hoping every stone we turned over would help us find our problem," Johnson recalled. "What was so frustrating is I've never worked so hard in my life to get such little return. I know (No. 48 team crew chief) Chad (Knaus) can say the same and the team can. The efforts they put in, just mind-boggling. I'm so happy I have a group of guys to do that, to do anything possible. It's just so frustrating when you don't get anything for it. So that was tough."

However, it was key for not only Johnson, but the entire No. 48 team to put the season behind them and get a fresh start in 2018.   

"After a few weeks of the offseason, letting that kind of fall off your shoulders, get recharged and ready to go," the driver said. "It's been easy to find motivation for 2018. With all the change that's going on, as I mentioned a couple times, it's a race to figure out this mousetrap first. That's what we like to do."

And throughout all the change and excitement of a new season, Johnson's main driving force remains constant.

"My desire to be competitive, my desire to be a champion, my desire to win races, has never wavered," he said. "That's who I am."