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For Johnson, Saturday's Shootout a tuneup

For Johnson, Saturday's Shootout a tuneup

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. –Jimmie Johnson considers Saturday’s Budweiser Shootout an opportunity, a chance to put his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet to the test on Daytona International Speedway’s repaved oval before the Feb. 20 Daytona 500.

 “I think the Shootout will be a very good sign for what the 500 will be like,” Johnson said. “We will be using the push draft, the bump draft, three wide, potentially four wide. It will be a very good preliminary for the 500 and show how crazy we can be on this track."

Daytona International Speedway was repaved during the offseason, which should make the 2.5-mile oval more unpredictable and exhilarating for fans and drivers alike.

“It is great,” Johnson said. “There is a part of the racer in us that is missing the old surface because it was a handling exercise and the guy's car who handled the best won and we had some tools to work with. Now, it is fast for anyone, which will put on one heck of a show."

Johnson, who previously won the 2005 Shootout, also qualifies for this year’s event as the defending Cup champion. The Budweiser Shootout is a short race, but Johnson believes it is a great way to start the season.

“It is fun, especially at the start of the season and coming into such a big race like the Daytona 500,” Johnson said. “It is nice to knock the rust off and go racing."