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Can Team Penske dethrone Joe Gibbs Racing? Three NASCAR storylines to follow in 2020.

Alex Andrejev, The Charlotte Observer on

Published in Auto Racing

DAYTONA, Fla. -- With the NASCAR season kicking off at Sunday's Daytona 500, the Charlotte Observer breaks down what to look for in the sport's top series in 2020. Here's what we're following:

-- Jimmie Johnson enters his final (and chilliest) year

It's Jimmie Johnson's final full-time season of Cup racing and he's "not chasing anything," according to a post on his Twitter account from January. The post included a video of Johnson revealing his latest hashtag #OneFinalTime and explaining his desire to move away from his former #Chasing8 hashtag and the "chasing" mentality.

"I feel like I've been a bit out of character and focused on a number, a statistic," said Johnson, who enters his 20th season driving the No. 48 for Hendrick Motorsports.

As a multi-time winner of every marquee NASCAR event, including Daytona (two), Charlotte (four), Indianapolis (four) and Darlington (two), Johnson has become an icon of the sport. He is tied in the record books with Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt with seven Cup Series titles.

Johnson has been chasing his eighth title since 2017. The last two seasons resulted in his worst career point finishes -- 14th and 18th place.

 

As the 44-year-old driver takes a step back from the sport, he is also easing the pressure off himself. It has yet to be seen how Johnson's demure demeanor translates to his on-track performance.

-- Can Team Penske prevail?

Ford teams will be looking to make a major push this season after coming off a year in which they fell just short of title contention.

Neither Team Penske's Brad Keselowski nor Joey Logano reached the final four in Homestead last season, with Logano, driver of the No. 22 Ford, finishing fifth in the final series standings. Logano, the 2018 champion, will look to reclaim the title from last year's winner, Joe Gibbs Racing's Kyle Busch.

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