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Johnson on ragged edge

DAYTONA BEACH — In his first stint in the No. 99 Chevrolet, Jimmie Johnson was sorely tempted to use some good old-fashioned NASCAR aggression Saturday in the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway.

Slowed by Daytona Prototypes that were off the pace, he resisted the urge to use his bumper.

"It's tough in these cars for a couple of reasons," the five-time defending Sprint Cup champion said after climbing from the car for a driver change in the endurance race. "One, you're not really sure who's in the car in front of you. So after you yell and scream a few times on the radio, they say, 'Well, that's so and so.' I don't really know these guys well enough to understand what that means, but I could tell from the inflection in my crew chief's voice a couple of times that I should be expecting that from certain guys.

"The other thing is that it's so hard to not just turn someone around and get rid of them. In a Cup car, you can do that easily. In these, it'll end your day. So I had to stop myself a few times.

"If Kevin Harvick was in one of these, I think he would have just run 'em over."

The car, which Johnson was sharing with Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney, lost eight laps early with a brake problem.

Johnson was not the only driver surprised at some of the tactics that were used early.

"Nobody's leaving any margin," said Dario Franchitti, the reigning IndyCar and Indianapolis 500 champion, co-driving the No. 02 BMW-Riley for Chip Ganassi. "Even the experienced guys who know what they're doing, some of them aren't leaving a margin for anything. And then there's some guys who don't know what they're doing, and they're just hanging on out there ,and they're creating some accidents, too. … There's bits of car lying everywhere."

After eight hours on the 3.56-mile road course, which incorporates most of the newly repaved 2.5-mile banked superspeedway, Ganassi's No. 01 car led, with defending Grand-Am series champs Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas driving along with Joey Hand and Graham Rahal.

NASCAR: Travis Kvapil, the 2003 truck series champ, will compete for the 2011 series title with Randy Moss Motorsports, Sporting News reported. He'll also run a partial Sprint Cup schedule.

.Fast facts

Daytona schedule

Today: Grand-Am series, Rolex 24 at Daytona, finishes at 3:30 p.m. (Speed Channel, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.)

Speedweeks

Feb. 12: Bud Shootout (NASCAR Sprint Cup exhibition race); Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 ARCA race

Feb. 13: Daytona 500 qualifying (top two spots only)

Feb. 17: Gatorade Duel at Daytona, twin 150-mile qualifying races for the Daytona 500 (spots 3-43)

Feb. 18: NextEra Energy Resources 250 trucks race (100 laps)

Feb. 19: Drive4COPD 300 Nationwide series (120 laps)

Feb. 20: Daytona 500 Sprint Cup race (200 laps)

Johnson on ragged edge 01/29/11 [Last modified: Saturday, January 29, 2011 11:40pm]
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