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JOHNSON SINGING “FEELS LIKE THE FIRST TIME”

If any driver should be concerned about Texas Motor Speedway’s repaved and re-profiled 1.5-mile oval, it should be Jimmie Johnson.

The seven-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion holds the all-time victory mark in Fort Worth with six, including four consecutive checkered flags in the fall’s AAA Texas 500 from 2012-15. Asked if he was prepared to dissect the new layout, complete with reduced banking in Turns 1 and 2 from 24 to 20 degrees, the Hendrick Motorsports ace did not hesitate.

“I have it in me, but I think it’s a clean sheet of paper,” Johnson said during his media session prior to climbing into the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS for Friday’s first practice. “You can’t pick a favorite right now.  Any time there’s a reconfiguration, a new asphalt, it’s a total game-changer.  All of past history is now out the window and it’s like we’re coming here for the first time.”

Teams will have one 2-hour, 25-minute practice session today before qualifying at 5:15 p.m. CT for Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 (12:30 p.m., FOX).

“We will definitely tip-toe our way into it,” Johnson said. “Past history of this track, especially in (Turns) 3 and 4, it looks pretty similar (still 24 degrees).  I was out there in a rental car, (Turns) 1 and 2 are way different.  So, just trial and error.  I think the big issue we’re going to deal with today is how quickly the rubber goes down.  When I went out and drove around last night, I know the (Texas) Tire Monster has been here, but there’s just nothing like the real thing and putting rubber down where we are going to run.”

The Texas Tire Monster, who has logged tons of overtime working the track, politely declined comment.

About the author

The Texas Motor Speedway Media Relations Department is located on the 6th floor of The Speedway Club outside of Turn 1 of the speedway. 

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