Chicago Johnsons Kind Of Town

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JOLIET, Ill. - Chicagoland Speedway has been very good to Jimmie Johnson and the site of his first career Nationwide Series win back in 2001, a feat he hopes to repeat in Saturday night's Sprint Cup Series Lifelock.com 400.

Even the Saturday night's race is the eighth Cup event at the 1.5-mile track it's the first under the lights, making things much different for drivers and crew chiefs.

Johnson says using notes from other tracks is helpful - to an extent.

"We really do go off of notes of a track similar to this," Johnson said after Thursday's opening practice session. "To a large degree we’re speculating in some respects. I do feel that though that with the schedule and as painful as it is to sit around all day and have everything take place in the afternoons, this would be our best attempt to understand a great race car from a practice session into the race."

"If you look at Charlotte, we practice in the morning and race at night. There are a lot of other examples where we practice during the day and race at night. So this is really the closest we’ve had actually practice conditions to race conditions, which is helpful."

Johnson points out that the learning curve at any track differs with a wide range of input and data.

"Yeah, sometimes we get ourselves in trouble trying to over think things," he said. "I think we’ve been guilty of that a little bit in general in the No. 48 car. We’ve certainly learned a lot of things not to do. We’re making a lot of progress right now. But you do look to the engineers. We don’t have data from this race track for quite a long period of time, especially with this new car. So there is a lot of guessing going on and engineers are working hard with the crew chief to dream up the optimum set-up.”

Johnson's crew chief Chad Knaus, who grew-up in nearby Rockford, Illinois, hopes he has the right set-up to finally get Johnson into victory lane at Chicagoland.

"Chicago is a fun track to go to," Knaus said. "We've had a lot of success there in the past and some really good finishes; we just haven't gotten the win yet. We had a really good car there last year but cut a tire and wrecked late in the race. With the race being at night this year for the first time, things will be a little different, but hopefully we can get the win and check Chicago off the list."

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