Atlanta II: 2nd, 3rd finishers press conference

Atlanta Motor Speedway September 5, 2010 An Interview With: CARL EDWARDS - 2nd finisher JIMMIE JOHNSON - 3rd finisher THE MODERATOR: Let's role into our post race for tonight's Emory Healthcare 500 here at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Our ...

Atlanta Motor Speedway
September 5, 2010

An Interview With:
CARL EDWARDS - 2nd finisher
JIMMIE JOHNSON - 3rd finisher

THE MODERATOR: Let's role into our post race for tonight's Emory Healthcare 500 here at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Our third-place finisher is Jimmie Johnson. He drives the No. 48 Lowe's Cobalt Tools Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports.

Jimmie, you certainly had a car that ran up front most of the evening, and you had said earlier, you really wanted to see how things played out here in Atlanta that could maybe tell some things for the future for the 48 team. What did you find out?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, I think we have had some problems on the mile-and-a-half, two-mile tracks and tonight with the setup we brought and the way we worked on things, seemed we could adjust the car and improve throughout the night and be there at the end of the race.

I feel like we are going down the right path. You know, I know that we have run better than our finishes show over the last few months. We have had a bunch of incidents, on top of running bad at a few tracks, I can't deny that but I'm excited to clinch. I just don't want to go into Richmond and worry about racing my way through that and so that's a huge relief for myself and this team.

Tonight was a solid night. We had a race with the 9 and 99, that was so much fun, and that's the way racing should be. Even there at the end, running the 99 down and we got a little strung out there, but still, to have a car to see the front and to race hard with these guys and adjust on it all night says a lot for the 48 team going forward.

Q: Two things. You did mention the racing was fun out there, seemed like you saw some of the better racing of the season on a mile-and-a-half track; comment on that, and Tony winning a race, is that going to make him a legitimate contender?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, he's been showing a lot of speed and consistency. We know that they have great equipment. It's just a matter of the 14 and the 39 team gelling and all of the people inside Stewart Haas Racing. Those guys have been doing great. We have had to go to them a few times for help in getting our stuff going into the right direction. Happy for Tony as a friend, and from the teammate side, happy to see that as well.

The racing, I guess because there are so many lanes here that we could find clean air. You had Carl on the bottom, I was in the middle and Kasey was on top and our cars were equal and there was enough room to race side-by-side and can be in clean air. Some of the mile-and-a-halves, there's really only one lane to one and when you're behind someone and don't have clean air, you're at such a disadvantage. You can't get up alongside of the guy. I think we put on a good show. I wish that last caution didn't come out. There's no telling who would have won that thing. Maybe all three of us would have been a big wad and someone else would have won, but it was going to be a lot of fun.

Q: You've talked in the past about you feel like you guys have run well here in this last stretch, just haven't had the results, I'm sure you guys can say to each other, but when you have a 20th or 30th place finish, that has to bog a team down, doesn't it?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, it's a big confidence booster, might sound crazy, but for myself, for Chad, to be in the heat of the race in the end when pit stops counts, the adjustments count, strategy counts, that's the stuff you need to be on your game with during the Chase.

And to get a good race here to be in that moment and to feel the pressure, is something we needed. That pressure is fun to have and it was a familiar excitement inside of me, and I was excited to be out there racing with everybody and being a part of it, and hopefully we can go to Richmond and get in that moment again to be as prepared as we can for the Chase.

Q: What was the missing ingredient for you tonight that you would have needed to win this one?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: You know, I think that the run where the 9, the 99 and myself were running three-wide basically, if I could have got the lead at that point, I would have checked out and it if there were no cautions, I think I could have won. That last restart, the 99 was in front of me, he spun his tires, and whoever was on the outside, I guess the 14 had some trouble. And I tried to get up the middle of those guys and when I did we started bouncing off of one another and I had to check up. And now I'm three-wide through one and two, and Carl and Tony got away. And I started reeling those guys back in. So I wish that I would have got a good restart at the end of that.

I think the race was decided once we exited turn 2 after we took the green. Track position was important enough that the fact that Tony had it, he would have probably controlled the race. I wished I would have had a chance to get up in there and see what I could have done.

Q: Going back to your early comments, can you comment a little bit more about how tonight is bigger than just Atlanta? I take it to mean that you guys have done some things that you can use at other intermediate tracks going forward once the Chase begins; is it that simple or is there more to it than that?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, definitely, the setup we ran tonight will work on other tracks. The thought process that goes with it will work. The thing that I'm encouraged about is we can adjust on the car and make positive gains where many of the stuff we have been running, we adjust on it and all we do is hurt the car and slow it down as the race goes on.

You know, there's that aspect, and as I mentioned before, the fact that we are in there racing with everyone, pit stops counted, strategy counted, juices as a driver, frothing at the mouth and chewing on the wheel, racing as hard as you can; it was good to go back through all of that, for crew chief, driver, all of us, to get ready for the Chase.

THE MODERATOR: Let's hear from our race runner-up, and he has clinched a spot in the 2010 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup; that is, Carl Edwards. He drives the No. 99 Aflac Ford for Roush Fenway. Carl you certainly had a car that ran up front really the entire evening, led a lot of laps, and have clinched a spot in the Chase. Your thoughts about the whole gamut; you led so many laps tonight, had to be one of your strongest performances of the season.

CARL EDWARDS: When we talked in here on Saturday, you know, that's one of the things we talked about is we haven't led a lot of laps and we have not had that it dominant car and tonight I felt like we had a car as good or better car than we have had all season really for maybe a season and a half. Really proud of my guys. The last pit stop was spectacular. That's probably the best pit stop I've ever had.

You know, it's like Jimmie said, when you run up front like that, you kinds of get in that mode of racing for the win and the victory, and that is good for everyone. Especially for us at this point. I feel like we have scored a ton of points the last seven or eight races. We have performed probably better in that stretch than we ever have and it makes me really excited and I'm really looking forward to the Chase. It's going to be fun.

Q: You just said that you had a better car than ever before. Did you ever have significant changes together with your crew for this race or just this Speedway with your driving style?

CARL EDWARDS: There was nothing significant specifically for this race, but I feel that this race suits my driving style, you know, very well. I really enjoy this racetrack. I mean, when Jimmie and Kasey and I were racing, you know, two- and three-wide for the lead there for a few laps, I mean, there's one point where I was laughing done going down the front straightaway. It was just fun.

That's what racing's about is having some fun. I feel like this racetrack really lends itself to that style of racing, so I enjoy it and it was a good coincidence my crew and my car were on their game tonight, as well.

Q: Could you guys touch on the restarts? It seemed like every restart somebody was diving under somebody else, three-wide right at the front of the pack.

JIMMIE JOHNSON: For me, one time I went three-wide a few times on the inside lane, and didn't understand, really, what was going on and why I had that great run. And then when I started on the pole position, or I guess I was second and the leader took the outside. It was the 14, and he just struggled with restarts all night.

I got a good restart and I was going to beat him to the start finish line, and I couldn't and so I had to let off and when I let off, guys were blowing off the inside of me.

This track in general is tough to get a good restart. The asphalt is so old. And sticker tires are easy to accelerate correctly. But when you have even one-lap scuffs, you feel like you're in a dragster just trying to hook the tires up, and that's where you saw a lot of guys shuffling around trying to pass each other when somebody made a mistake.

CARL EDWARDS: I don't know the rule. If the leader spins his tires and you're beating him, is that okay to beat him by three feet, or not? I was in the same boat at Jimmie. There was one time I lifted and either you or somebody else went blowing by me, and I was like, well, damn, maybe I shouldn't have done that. We'll have to clarify that, I guess.

Q: If you can talk about the cramp that you had during that one stretch, and for Carl, can you kind of talk about what happened with your conversation with Tony in victory lane?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: No, I just, when we were all running three-wide I guess I was pushing on the gas pedal a little too hard. I got a cramp in my hamstring. It's like when you go to the go-kart track and you're wide open but you feel like if you push the pedal harder, it will make a difference and make it go faster, and I was trying to stuff it through the firewall of the race car and got a cramp and was joking with Chad about it.

So that was about it.

CARL EDWARDS: I just told Tony "good job." His car was amazing and he did a good job of driving it. The places he was on the racetrack, I couldn't run there. I was just letting him know that I thought he did a real good job.

Q: Your thoughts on next week? I think they said ten of the 12 people are locked in, including both of you. I don't know if it's ever had that many since the race started; how do you expect that race to play out in each of your respective teams as far as what you guys are looking for?

CARL EDWARDS: We'll just go for it. I think I can speak for Jimmie, but we'll probably just go there and go for the win and don't have too much to be concerned about, other than that particular race. So for me, it will just be a fun race.

JIMMIE JOHNSON: The same. We really sucked there in the spring, so we are hoping to run better when we go back.

Q: Dale Junior made an interesting comment on the radio during the race, and it seems to be true, that almost everybody that runs a race, toward the end of the night, feels like they have struggled for most of the day, maybe more so than at other tracks. And he made a comment sort of jokingly that, hey, NASCAR should just let everybody come out here and have a one-day test because most people run poorly even though they like the track. What are your thoughts on that, even though he was kind of joking?

CARL EDWARDS: I don't even want to do any more testing. But he's right. There are times when you're in the race car here and one minute, you get all excited and like, oh, that was a great lap, and, oh, this thing is driving terribly.

Yeah, I don't think the guy that wins this race even has a car that drives great. It's a very difficult racetrack. But, you know, I don't know if testing will make it easier. I don't think so. It's just got a lot of character, and that's why I think all of us like racing here so much.

Q: Some people are going to start lifting you guys maybe as favorites for the Chase, especially you, Carl, scoring all the points and Jimmie, maybe making a comeback from the performances lately. Based on what we saw tonight, we saw guys have problems that are run well; does any of this momentum matter? Carl, in what ways does it matter that you've scored more points than anybody, because it resets. Jimmie, what does it matter what you've done, or what you can do?

CARL EDWARDS: I used to say it didn't matter. I never used to believe in momentum. But I think for us, I've never run so poorly for so long, you know what I mean, and now I'm seeing this return around and it's been a couple months, and I kind of -- I think I understand the team more than I understand where we've been gaining. And so for that reason, I believe in this momentum that we have and I believe it will apply to the future races. Now, you can't do anything about a cut tire or a broken spring or something like that but at least we've proved to ourselves the last couple of months that we can do it, and that feels good for us.

JIMMIE JOHNSON: We all look for things to encourage our team and to give -- to cheer guys up and get them rallied around something. If it's scoring the most points; if it's hopefully starting the Chase with more points because of the race wins we've had during the year; whatever it is, you're trying to find something to build your team around and sends them off into the Chase like Warriors ready to go and charged up for whatever is out there for them. We all find those things and try to build the team around it and go from there.

But tonight what I saw, even though we had really good cars, the 29 had some problems. Then I saw the 2 with damage come back up and get a good finish. 14 was strong, you look around, 11 was strong; we are going to have a really exciting Chase. There's a lot of teams coming together right now, and I think the 12 drivers in the Chase, and the organizations represented in the Chase, are all pretty strong. I still think we are trying to catch up a little bit. Some guys might be a little further ahead. We all have our complaints here and there. But I think you're going to have a really good Chase.

Q: Have you seen that in the past --

JIMMIE JOHNSON: Sometimes you'll see a guy or two. We've seen some clear favorites, in my opinion, over the years. But this year, it's just been -- maybe it's because it's been more unpredictable be than what we have seen in the past and guys have been on streaks and when they are off, they are cold and nothing is going on. It's just been a different thing. It's been real tough to understand who is the clear favorite. I would say outside of the 29, because didn't matter the track or where or what we were doing this year, he's always been up front and running well and the rest of us have kind of been playing catch up.

THE MODERATOR: Great show tonight. Good luck next weekend at Richmond.

-source: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Jimmie Johnson
Teams Hendrick Motorsports