If at first you don't succeed, spy, spy again.

That's the way the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage works today and the way it's worked for years.

When getting beaten on the track, teams try to figure out where and how they're getting beat. And one of the ways they do it is by employing spies. That's right, spies.

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"You learn from your competitors," said four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon during Thursday's pre-Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup media event in Chicago. "We have spies everywhere, constantly looking at our competitors."

Gordon's teammate, Jimmie Johnson, professed surprise at Gordon's comments.

Who, exactly, are these spies? That, of course, is top secret.

But chances are some of the random race fans you see dressed in shorts and t-shirts in the NASCAR garage are actually team-employed spies with high-tech cameras, trying to decipher the competitive advantage that their rivals have.

"I didn't know we had spies," said Johnson. "That's awesome. That's news to me. I hope they found something cool."

Johnson did allow that teams do look at each other very closely. "When your parked next to one another (in the Sprint Cup garage), everybody's looking at each other's cars and seeing things," said Johnson. "The photos that we receive in practice sessions, you can see the attitude of the car, how low it is, and speculate on springs and stuff that's going on."

The use of spies in the garage is not unique to Hendrick Motorsports and it's certainly nothing new.

In the 1960s, the Wood Brothers used to go dumpster diving to find the duct tape other teams covered their exhaust ports with, because that would tell them the shape of those ports. From there, the team could figure out what engine package their rivals were running.

A lot has changed in NASCAR over the years, but some things never change.