What to watch for We'll take Jimmie Johnson as our favorite at Chicago. Although he has never won at the 1.5-mile track, Johnson has averaged a 3.6-place finish in his five trips to the Windy City. The No. 48 has never finished worse than sixth, leading all possible laps along the way.
JJ's Hendrick teammate, Jeff Gordon, rode to victory in Joliet last season after he pulled the ol' spin to win on Matt Kenseth. He also finished runner-up in 2002 to Kevin Harvick, who won the first two events staged at Chicagoland.
Chevrolet has been the car of choice at this track, taking the checkers in five of the six races. That trend is one reason Kyle Busch could be a contender this year. The young gun finished 14th in his first run in 2005 and followed that with a strong third-place finish in his second go-round last year.
Jack Roush has been unsuccessful at Chicago, going winless in six tries. The team almost ripped the monkey off its back last year, as Matt Kenseth led 112 laps before Gordon laid the bumper to him. Kenseth had the best car in the '05 event before the fuel mileage bug bit him.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. claimed victory that day. Junior could be a factor again in 2007, after leading 27 laps and finishing fifth last year.
The best off-the-wall pick is Reed Sorenson, who runs well on intermediate tracks and finished seventh in the fastest Dodge of the day last season.
Keep an eye on... Kevin Harvick -- As we mentioned above, Harvick won the first two events ever run at Chicago. Harvick led for 40 laps and notched a fourth last season. He also won the Busch event here in 2005.
Bobby Labonte -- Labonte scored finishes of 12th here last season in a Petty Dodge and 13th the season before in a Gibbs Chevy. That tells us the driver knows how to get around the joint regardless of the machinery around him.
Casey Mears -- The new Hendrick hire won the Busch race at Chicago last season and has always enjoyed a knack for the intermediates. In Hendrick sheet metal, he should contend at tracks such as these.
J.J. Yeley -- A rookie at the time, this JGR pilot had a couple decent showings at tracks such as Chicago. He recorded a 10th here last season and an eighth at California.