Jimmie Johnson Talladega preview

Johnson looks to put the "Rose" car in victory lane. Drafting and upfront racing key to IROC success. TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 1, 2003) - NASCAR Winston Cup driver Jimmie Johnson climbed from his rose colored Pontiac courtesy of Mike Bliss, who ...

Johnson looks to put the "Rose" car in victory lane.
Drafting and upfront racing key to IROC success.

TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 1, 2003) - NASCAR Winston Cup driver Jimmie Johnson climbed from his rose colored Pontiac courtesy of Mike Bliss, who exchanged car colors with Johnson during the Daytona press conference, smiling ear to ear following the first 2003 International Race of Champions (IROC) in Daytona.

"That was the most fun I've had in a race car in a while," said Johnson. "It was my first race ever in one of these race cars and I had no idea what to expect. I was able to take the lead early and then I proceeded to get an education on IROC racing from Mark Martin"

Johnson would go on to lead the second most laps, 14, during the 40-lap event. But he did not lead the one lap that matters the most, the last one.

"I made the same mistake at Daytona three times, including in the IROC race," said Johnson. "I would make a move to the outside with less than a quarter of the race left and I always hung myself out to dry. The worst thing about it was that I left myself out there with only a few laps to get back to the front, which never happened."

Johnson will take his one race, crash course IROC experience and start Saturday's race in the ninth position following the inversion of the finishing field from February's Daytona event, where he finished fourth.

"Starting ninth is not a big deal at Talladega," explained Johnson on his weekly media teleconference call. "As we saw in the first IROC race, to be successful you're going to have to work the draft and be out front. I feel like I'm getting a handle on the draft and how to use it, so I'm really looking forward to the race.

"I would imagine the fans are going to see race with a lot of bumping, banging and hard racing, just like Daytona. It should be a great one to watch and an even better one to participate in. We had a strong run in the first IROC race, and hopefully we'll have a good day this Saturday."

Jimmie Johnson Fast Facts in IROC
* Currently ranks third overall in the IROC standings, only 11 points behind Mark Martin.
* Finished 4th in his first IROC race of his career earlier this year in Daytona.
* Lead 14 laps in the Daytona race, second most in the field.

Jimmie Johnson Fast Facts in Winston Cup
* Ranks fifth in the Winston Cup Series championship standings, 205 points behind leader Matt Kenseth.
* Johnson has four top-10 finishes (Daytona - 3rd, Rockingham -8th, Bristol - 8th, Texas - 8th)
* Johnson was on the pole for both Talladega races last season.
* Including last season, Johnson has won the pole at Daytona and Talladega three out of the five races.
* Johnson scored the second most points on superspeedways in 2002 with 3,813 points. He was 32 points behind teammate and part car owner, Jeff Gordon.
* On superspeedways last season, Johnson had three wins, three poles, six top-five and 19 top-10 finishes. He also led 13 races for 837 laps or 1,128.502 miles.

Jimmie Johnson at Talladega Superspeedway
* In the Winston Cup Series, 1st is his average starting position and 21st is his average finishing position.
     * Aaron's 499 (spring) - 2002: started 1st and finished 7th
     * EA Sports 500 (fall) - 2002: started 1st and finished 37th
* In the Busch Series, 28th was his average start and finish.
     * Touchstone Energy 300 - 2000: started 28th and finished 29th
     * Subway 300 - 2001: started 29th and finished 28th

Broadcast Schedule
Race - Sunday, April 6 at 3:30 p.m. (ET) on ESPN (tape-delayed)

-tlr-

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About this article
Series IROC
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Jimmie Johnson , Mike Bliss , Mark Martin