DAYTONA BEACH , Fla. (Nov. 14, 2007) – So how does Jimmie Johnson unwind before racing for a second NEXTEL Cup title in the upcoming Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway?

Well, he strapped into a Daytona Prototype for a Rolex 24 At Daytona test session on Wednesday at Daytona International Speedway.

Johnson, who has a 86-point lead over Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon entering Sunday’s Ford 400 NEXTEL Cup Series season finale, shook down the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley during the first day of a major Rolex 24 At Daytona test session.

“It’s the best thing that I could do to get my mind off a championship is to come down and have some fun in one of these DP cars,” Johnson said. “I really enjoy this DP series. I’ve been in three 24 hours events and I’m hopeful to come back and run it again in ’08. I just wanted to get some seat time and get use to the cars. Bob Stallings and this GAINSCO group were nice enough to let me come down and work with them. I’m having a great time.”

Johnson, who has to finish 18th or better to clinch the championship on Sunday, did have the blessing of his car owner Rick Hendrick and his crew chief Chad Knaus for his testing trip to DIS.

“Rick is a racer,” Johnson said. “He was like, ‘Alright, go have fun but don’t do anything stupid.’ It was the same thing with Knaus. Those guys know how much I love driving these cars and they are all racers at heart too. Until I get hurt, it’s not a problem. I’m sure if I ever get hurt, there will be issue.”

As far as his championship hunt that resumes on Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Johnson says the No. 48 Lowe’s Home Improvement team has to stick to their game plan.

“I’ve just got to go do the same thing that I’ve been doing,” Johnson said. “If I change my game and worry about finishing in a certain spot, I

think it’s going to bite us. Right now, we’re looking forward. We’re going to have the same strategy as we would going to any other track.

“I’m going to show up Friday and head right into qualifying trim and try to get the best starting spot we can, the best pit stall pick and get into the race and run a good smooth hard race. I really feel if we are able to run in the top five throughout the day, there’s less activity up there, less chance of getting caught up in something. That’s where we want to be.”

Johnson, the 2006 Daytona 500 champion, has become a regular fixture during the Rolex 24 At Daytona, which is scheduled for Jan. 26-27. He has made three starts in the twice-around-the-clock challenge and recorded a best finish of second in 2005.

Testing for the Rolex 24 At Daytona continues on Thursday. Fans with 2008 Rolex 24 At Daytona tickets will be admitted free to the testing session. Ticket holders must check in both days at the Guest Services desk inside the Daytona 500 Experience to receive a tram coupon valid to get them to the infield.

Fans without 2008 Rolex 24 tickets can purchase $10 tram ride admissions sold at the Daytona 500 Experience Guest Services desk.  The DIS ticket office will be open for those wishing to purchase tickets to the Rolex 24 At Daytona or any other DIS event.

In addition, Oldfield grandstands will be open for viewing outside the track with access through the Daytona 500 Experience.

Race fans can purchase their tickets for the 46th anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 26-27 online at or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP. If race fans purchase a two-day advance infield/grandstand ticket by Jan. 19, they will receive a free collectible Rolex 24 hat.