JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 99 GAINSCO/BOB STALLINGS RACING CHEVROLET RILEY, is set to make his seventh start in the GRAND-AM Road Racing's Rolex 24 at Daytona. The five-time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion spoke with members of the media about this opportunity both at testing for the Rolex 24 and following practice and qualifying this weekend.
COMMENT DURING NASCAR TESTING AT DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY: "January has been extremely busy. I've missed being in the car. I think all drivers would say wanting to go to the track and drive the car and compete, you can do that year round. I was here for the Rolex test and had a great time in that car and will be back next weekend for that race and really excited for that race in the GAINSCO Chevrolet powered DP car. I really enjoy running that event."
FOLLOWING PRACTICE AND QUALIFYING FOR THE ROLEX 24: "The race is such a challenge mentally and physically. The cars are a lot of fun. Being able to see friends and guys I have respected and watched over the years race, shoot the breeze with them some and then be out on the track with them wheel-to-wheel is a lot of fun as well. It is a great event. I love competing in it and I look forward to a great race."
THOUGHTS ON GOING INTO THE 24-HOUR RACE: "Luckily I'm not in the rhythm on the Cup side and I have done this enough over the years (six times) to understand how chaotic the race is and what is important for me from a rest, hydration, nutrition standpoint to be ready. I feel that I am better prepared coming in on all those fronts and have more things in place during the event to make sure I am well rested and ready to go. We have gone down to three drivers in our GAINSCO Chevrolet and its going to be a real big load for all three of us to carry. Excited for the challenge and just looking forward to it.
"We've made some progress on the car during the weekend. Qualifying trim was not very good for the team but now that we are in to race trim, we ended that last session on top of the board. I think the car is coming around.
"It doesn't really matter where you start, but speed does make a difference. When you have to run at 10 tenths the entire race, there is no room for error and you can break gear boxes; get off the road and rip the nose off the car, get into traffic and crash the car. Ideally you want to have some speed that you can call on when need be. I don't know if we are there, but the car is much more competitive. If you can be within a half second to three tenths from the fast guys, that is a good place to be because traffic plays such a big game in your overall lap time and you can have a huge gap and lose it just because of where traffic falls. I think we are back in the window of where we want to be right now."
-source: team chevy