Before he runs the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Pocono on Sunday, series champion Jimmie Johnson will join defending Grand-Am Daytona Prototype champions Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty in Saturday's Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen, the trio sharing the No. 99 GAINSCO Chevrolet Riley.
Johnson has seven starts in the Rolex Series, but all have come at Daytona, where he has finished second twice with six top-10 finishes. Johnson raced in eight Sprint Cup Series races at The Glen, starting on the pole twice with three top fives, including third place in 2007.
Johnson sees his biggest hurdle this weekend as the driver changes.
"It seems like it'd be a piece of cake, but it's tough when the engine's running and you actually have to do it," Johnson said. "It's a really tough challenge. That's definitely going to be a spot [where] I'm worried about making a mistake."
While Johnson has raced on the 2.45-mile short course at Watkins Glen, scoring three top-five finishes in Sprint Cup competition, this will be his first attempt on the traditional 3.4-mile circuit. He said he's used iRacing simulations to grow accustomed to the longer course.
"Yeah, (Dale Earnhardt) Junior set it up for me," he said. "So, we'll find out after I make a lap or two in practice how accurate it is. It seems like, based on running the part of the track that I'm familiar with, that it's very accurate. So I think it will help. I recognize that there's some really blind corners down in the other section that I've never been on before and I think all the repetition I've made on the computer game should help."
The GAINSCO team has been successful at Watkins Glen in the past. Gurney and Fogarty swept the races at WGI in 2007, and the team's first pole position came at the track in 2006. However, the TELMEX/Chip Ganassi Racing team of drivers Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas have won the event the past two years.