Racing without his veteran crew chief and friend, Jimmie Johnson is off to a fast start in NASCAR's Nextel Cup series.

The Hendrick Motorsports driver backed up last week's Daytona 500 victory with a second-place finish Sunday in the Auto Club 500, the second of four races with suspended crew chief Chad Knaus watching on TV from his home in Charlotte, N.C.

Knaus was suspending by NASCAR for using an unapproved part on the No. 48 Chevrolet in qualifying at Daytona.

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