WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (AP) — Jimmie Johnson has won 83 races and seven championships in NASCAR's Cup series. There are only three tracks on the current schedule where he hasn't won — Kentucky, Chicago, and Watkins Glen, the next one on the schedule.
"I'd love to win here, without a doubt," Johnson said Saturday before practice at The Glen. "There's a lot of history here. And it's one of three tracks where I haven't won, so I have a lot of motivation to win here."
For crew chief Chad Knaus, the first week in August is the time of year he gets bombarded with the same question: Why haven't you guys won at Watkins Glen?
"It's been pretty elusive to us, obviously," Knaus said. "But we've also been in a position to capitalize a couple of times and have never been able to follow through. It would be really awesome to check that one off the box."
It's not for lack of trying. In 2010, on a Cup weekend at Pocono, Johnson flew up to Watkins Glen to drive a Daytona Prototype in the old Grand-Am Series to hone his road course skills.
"He hasn't had a ton of experience on the road courses, not that that's any excuse by any stretch of the imagination," Knaus said. "I don't have a ton of experience at the road courses, either. It's just not our bread and butter, per se.
"But with the introduction of the road course at Charlotte Motor Speedway, road course racing is going to be more important. So you might see our attention drift that way a little bit more seriously now. We might start to perform a little bit better."
For the record, Johnson is winless in six races at Kentucky, but has finished in the top five every time. He has a top finish of second in 15 races at Chicago and a best of third at The Glen. He won at Sonoma in 2010 and two years ago was in position at the California track to win again before being foiled by a late caution while holding a comfortable lead.
"I wouldn't say frustrating is actually the right word," Knaus said. "It's more like a little bit of the unicorn. It's racing. We understand that. Road course racing is unique unto itself. Watkins Glen poses a completely new set of challenges over the other road course track we go to. It's a tough track. It really is."