Jimmie Johnson: New competition package is a more complicated equation

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 07:  Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 7, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS, NV – MARCH 07: Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 7, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS, Nev. — If you accept the consensus among NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers and crew chiefs, the new competition package introduced this year for the Gen-6 race car provides more latitude with setups and heightened adjustability.

According to six-time series champion Jimmie Johnson, that also makes it more complicated.

And communication between driver and crew chief remains critically important.

“The one thing that we have found right now with the ride heights like they are and the options you can run for springs  … you can make a change to a spring in the car and affect your ride heights and completely change the way the geometry works in the car,” Johnson said Friday, prior to the weekend’s first Sprint Cup Series practice at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“As you look at it initially, you think ‘OK, this will free the car up.’ You send it onto the race track, you come back you are plowing tight. It’s like ‘Wait a second. What’s going on?’ You have to look three or four layers deeper to understand the way everything works together and they are like ‘Oh, I see, it changed ride heights, which changed this, now I see why the car is tight.’”

Accordingly, the interlocking nature of variables in the setup makes the crew chief’s job more difficult.

“There are more steps involved with making a decision now,” Johnson said.

“I feel like communication still is key, but the thought process on the pit box is more important than it’s ever been, because a simple change affects more things now.”

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