Five weeks into the season Jimmie Johnson has his first top-10 finish. It came Sunday at Auto Club Speedway with a quiet ninth-place effort.
Afterward, Johnson called it a “solid day” in which his Hendrick Motorsports team had no tire issues, great pit stops and an effective race called by crew chief Chad Knaus. Johnson had not finished higher than 12th coming into the weekend.
“We’ll take it,” said the seven-time champion, whose finish was also his first top 10 since last October at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
In addition to edgng further up the point standings – he’s now 18th – Johnson also earned points in all three stages of the race. Remarkably, Sunday was the first race this season in which Johnson scored stage points.
Not making a qualifying lap Friday when his No. 48 failed to make it through inspection, Johnson lined up 33rd on the starting grid. At the end of the first 60-lap stage, Johnson was fifth. He ended the second stage seventh.
“Each week we have been getting a little better,” he said. “We are definitely not happy with where we are right now, but we are seeing the improvements, we have been seeing it internally. We’re making the cars drive better and better, and we’re getting more competitive.
“So, a strong day for the Lowe’s Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. We’re not where we want to be, but we’re getting closer every week.”