Authors: By JENNA FRYER
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- Five-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson is at Daytona 500 testing without crew chief Chad Knaus.
Knaus is on vacation and out of the country. The No. 48 team is being led by engineer Greg Ives and car chief Ron Malec.
Crew chief Steve Letarte is working with Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the garage stall next to Johnson and is available to help both Hendrick Motorsports cars.
Johnson said Knaus asked him about taking the vacation, which the driver called the chance of a lifetime. He says he had no issues with Knaus missing the three-day test at Daytona International Speedway because the team was well prepared.
Johnson's five-year run as champion ended last season. He finished sixth in the final Sprint Cup Series standings.