Still going strong at 41, Johnson agrees to 3-year extension

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Johnson's first inclination was that his auto was damaged severely enough to require a backup, but after he drove the Chevy back to the garage, crew chief Chad Knaus opted to try to fix the primary entry.

The deal will keep the seven-time NASCAR champion with the No. 48 team through 2020. "I told somebody earlier today that I was jealous previous year watching Kyle Larson get his first win here because I was saying, 'Man, that sure would be pretty storybook if I could do something like that.' I'd love to get my first win here".

In addition, Lowe's Companies Inc. has extended its longstanding relationship with Hendrick Motorsports after signing an agreement that will continue its full-season, 38-race primary sponsorship of Johnson and the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet SS team through 2018. I'm sure discussions will take place about an extension for him. I do know I'm having a great time and I don't want to stop right now. Through 2016, the El Cajon, California, native posted an average of 5.3 wins per year and an average championship points finish of 3.4. "Certainly, would love to climb further up the ladder there".

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Mark Martin won five races in 2009 after he turned 50 years old, so it is possible that Johnson, who beat Martin for the title that year, could still win races as he gets older. "I'll keep leaning on him". "Winning seven championships and 83 races was inconceivable, and now we have the opportunity to do even more together". "It's hard to tell where it's going to go, but my faith is in Rick". "Eight championships, I would love to stand alone at that".

Johnson said he's not driven by stats, but did admit an eighth Cup championship is a goal.

"I remember hoping to just win one race", Johnson said. "We'll see how these three years go". "I feel that fitness is yes, made me physically stronger and I think helps me in instances like I had in Pocono where I'm in good shape and my body could withstand and impact like that...there have been so many physical takeaways that I've been able to apply to my job, but honestly, the mental side is really paying off in having an outlet".