Friday, July 9, 2010

Chicago First Practice: Johnson Looks Dialed For First Race As A Father

The first Chicagoland practice session of the day becomes the most important because it is the only time the top teams will run exclusively with race trim on. On regular race weekends, we see an early practice that’s geared for qualifying set-up, then there's the actual qualifying, a day’s rest, followed by two practice sessions in race trim in what is their final chance at tinkering for race day.

This week, everything is done in one day in sort of a backward fashion. So if looking for happy hour times as the best indicator like a normal week, look at what happened in the first practice. The second practice will be used for some actual race set-up runs, but will be dedicated more towards a good qualifying set-up.

The top three fastest times of the early session came from teams using qualifying set-ups who are expected to start and park in Saturday night’s race. The driver who looked the most impressive throughout was the proud new father of a daughter, Jimmie Johnson.

Johnson laid down the fifth fastest lap of 175.970 mph early on, but his average speed of 173.728 was top s among all drivers that ran at least 50 laps. Johnson ran 66 laps and showed that he’s going to be pretty tough to beat on the long runs.

Johnson has the best career average finish of 8.1 at Chicago, but remains one of four tracks left on the circuit he hasn’t won on. It will hard to go against a driver that has already won for the first time on two tracks he never did this season (Bristol and Sonoma) on a week where he may be more motivated than ever to win for his daughter.

Jeff Gordon had the fourth fastest single lap of the first practice session and comes in with good Chicago history having won in 2006 and finishing runner-up to Mark Martin in last seasons event.

Other drivers who performed well in regards to average speeds were Kasey Kahne, A.J. Allmendinger, Mark Martin, Clint Bowyer, Tony Stewart, and Carl Edwards.  

Practice 1 Results (The More Important Session)

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