Jimmie Johnson was wise to play it safe

In retrospect it was a strategy more teams should have adopted, considering an 12-car wreck marred Friday's afternoon session of practice at Daytona International Speedway.

But as often the case in the NASCAR garage, Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus were thinking ahead and could see what was on the horizon.

And what they saw, they didn't like.

Because of the small fleet of cars they had in their arsenal due to the changeover to the Gen 6 model, along with a limited number of parts and the Daytona 500 being a little more than a month away, the No. 48 team wisely decided to play it safe.

"Generally speaking, we just don't have any cars," Johnson said Friday at Daytona. "This is our only speedway car for the 48 car. ...We just don't have the inventory. I mean we have four deck lids for our cars that are legal and they are on the four Hendrick cars that are here now. We're playing a big game of catch up right now."

It was a decision that made perfect sense when you weigh the risks of jockeying around in a large pack at Daytona compared to running around by yourself. It's a big picture outlook, and it's a game plan that has served Johnson and Knaus quite well over the years.

Now, as most of the sport's top teams pack up to leave Daytona prematurely and head home to fix their wounded race cars, you'll excuse Johnson and Knaus if they start to smirk. This is because instead of having to pull fenders and bang out dents out like their competitors, the two can continue to prepare for next month's Daytona 500 - as well as the season ahead.

"For us, it makes no sense to go out there and draft because you aren't going to learn anything," Johnson said, somewhat prophetically, earlier in the day. "You're just taking a chance of ruining your best race car."

As such, there will be no scrambling for the championship-winning pair that has rewritten the NASCAR record book.

The first checkered flag of 2013 hasn't even waved and the 48 team has already scored a victory.

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