Johnson back on track after breaking wrist

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) – Climbing on top of a moving golf cart was probably not the brightest idea Jimmie Johnson has ever had.

But the NASCAR champion offered no apologies Monday for goofing around on top of a golf cart last month – horseplay that caused him to fall off and break his left wrist.

“I work hard and I focus on my job and give it everything I’ve got,” Johnson said at the first day of testing at Daytona International Speedway. “But the flip side of that is that I like to play hard. I’m a normal guy and like to go out and have fun and do my thing, and I broke my wrist in the process.”

Johnson broke his wrist Dec. 8 while playing in Atlanta Braves pitcher Mike Hampton’s celebrity tournament. He was laying on top of the cart when the driver hit a bump, knocking Johnson to the ground.

Fortunately for Johnson, the accident happened during the offseason and he had four weeks to heal before coming here to prepare for the Feb. 18 season-opening Daytona 500. So with a splint on his arm, he climbed into the No. 48 Chevrolet for the first of three days of practice.

He also plans to race in the 24 Hours of Daytona later this month.

“My wrist is good,” he said. “I’m going to wear a splint in the car just to be smart and to be sure, but the cast is off and the hand is working and everything is good. It’s just something that kind of slowed me down over the offseason.

“It kind of kept me on the sidelines watching my wife swim, and being on vacation and watching my friends do all these fun things and I had to sit around and watch.”

So what’s the lesson learned here?

“I think I’m going to stick to just driving the golf carts,” Johnson said. “That way I’ll have something to hang on to and I won’t get ejected.”

Johnson, who wrapped up his first championship in November, is using this time to find a new spotter. Earl Barban, who spotted for him last year, left the team during the offseason.

and Johnson now has to scramble to find a replacement.

“Our shop is full, we’re at maximum head count, and it’s hard to find someone to work in that position,” he said.

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