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.

by Reid Spencer/Sporting News



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