Johnson Moving Ahead

Jimmie Johnson

Johnson will start 37th in tonight's race. (Photo: Jeff Wackerlin)

Jimmie Johnson will try to put last week’s Michigan disappointment behind with a good run in Saturday’s IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

The five-time champion looked well on his way to win number four of the season in last Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 until a blown engine just six laps from the checkered flag ended his day.

The clearly frustrated Johnson left the track without speaking to reporters and addressed that disappointment this weekend in Bristol.

"Last week with the emotion, there were so many levels of frustration that came through," Johnson said. "From gifting a fellow Chaser bonus points, a win, to losing two engines that weekend and losing the championship points lead, which is really important to me. All that just came to a head and there wasn't much else to say.

"Everyone watching clearly knew I had an engine failure and that I was disappointed. Just didn't make any sense to me to talk with everyone and draw further attention to the engine shop, which works so hard to put me on the racetrack week in and week out."

Johnson now has his focus on Saturday night’s annual race at the .533-mile Tennessee short track. But he’ll have a challenge right from the start with a 37th place starting position, thanks to qualifying being rained out and the line-up created from Friday’s first practice times.

Throw in the new configuration of Bristol after officials ground down the outer groove and Johnson knows how important his approach will be to being successful Saturday night.

"There really has been a change and it’s been with me, and the way that I drive the car,” Johnson said about what he’s learned over the years racing at Bristol. “For the longest time, I was driving the track incorrectly and then we would build a set-up to support my driving style here; get into the race and things wouldn’t work.

"So it’s a tough challenge for a driver, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in the sport or what you have accomplished, there are tracks that challenge each team and driver differently than others.”

Johnson won at Bristol in 2010 and carried three straight top 10 finishes into Saturday’s race. He credits that learning curve with the improved performance Johnson has enjoyed at Bristol in recent years.

"There are some tracks you go to and I know how to drive it and I roll right into a rhythm and I’m good and we’re working on the right things,” he said. “It didn’t happen here for the longest time. I’m very happy to now understand how to drive the track so that we can tune the car the way I really need to drive it and what I need in the race. And that’s been the difference."

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