Notebook: Johnson tries mind-over-matter approach to Bristol
By: By Reid Spencer, Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service, Superior Telegram
BRISTOL, Tenn. -- To put it mildly, Jimmie Johnson hasn't had the success at Bristol that he's enjoyed at Martinsville, NASCAR Sprint Cup racing's other half-mile track, where the three-time defending champion has been all but unbeatable for more than two years.
In the last five races at Martinsville, Johnson has four wins and a fourth. In his last seven starts at Bristol, Johnson's best result is 10th in 2004, and three of his finishes during that span are 30th or worse.
For Sunday's Food City 500 at Bristol, Johnson has adopted the power of positive thinking -- he's trying to talk himself into a love affair with the .533-mile, high-banked concrete track.
"I've studied video, I have worked with engineers, I've driven many laps in my head, and I started the whole process of convincing myself I love this track," Johnson said. "So my outlook is, 'I love this place and cannot wait to get on track.'"
The positive self-talk must have a beneficial effect. Johnson was third fastest in Friday's practice session and qualified third for Sunday's Food City 500.
MISSTEP LEAVES BIFFLE WITH SORE RIBS
A freak boating accident left Greg Biffle with a bruised ego and sore ribs, but the driver of the No. 16 Roush Fenway Ford doesn't expect the pain in his right side to be a factor in Sunday's Cup race.
"I wish I had a better story, I really do," said Biffle, who will forego competing in Saturday's Scotts Turf Builder 300 Nationwide Series event. "Me and a couple buddies went out fishing on Tuesday night, and we were just messing around in our cove right there, and we came back to the dock.
"I jumped over to the dock and the boat was kind of drifting out a little bit. One guy had the front corner and I said, 'I'm gonna jump back over and grab a rope and then jump back again.' It was about 11:30, so there was a little bit of dew in the air and the platform must have been wet, and when I jumped over it just shot my foot out from underneath me. It turned me around backwards and put me right on my side and on my back on the edge of the boat."
Biffle, who lives in Mooresville, N.C., said Friday that he felt considerably better than he did on Tuesday night.
"When the adrenaline kicks in, I won't even think about it," he said.
A fourth-place qualifying effort on Friday afternoon helped ease the pain.
EARNHARDT: BLAME ME, NOT MY CREW CHIEF
Dale Earnhardt Jr. said Friday he'd rather take the responsibility for the struggles of the No. 88 Chevrolet team than lay the blame on his cousin and crew chief, Tony Eury Jr.
"I would rather be crucified than him," said Earnhardt, who is 24th in the Cup championship standings through four races and qualified 35th for the Food City 500. "Because every time I read in the paper that people are on his case, I feel like I am sending my brother to jail for a crime I committed."