Bristol: Jimmie Johnson press conference, Part II

Tuesday, March 18, 2003 Part 2 of 2 Jimmie Johnson GOODYEAR ALSO SAYS THEY WON'T GO WITH A SOFTER TIRE BECAUSE OF THE LOAD GOING INTO THE CORNERS AT SOME OF THE BIG TRACKS. COULD YOU GO INTO THE TURNS AT A SLOWER SPEED AND STILL PUT ON A...

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Part 2 of 2

Jimmie Johnson

GOODYEAR ALSO SAYS THEY WON'T GO WITH A SOFTER TIRE BECAUSE OF THE LOAD GOING INTO THE CORNERS AT SOME OF THE BIG TRACKS. COULD YOU GO INTO THE TURNS AT A SLOWER SPEED AND STILL PUT ON A GOOD SHOW?

"It's really going to need to be a low slower than that. The forces that we carry into the corners are tremendous - especially at Dover. Dover is one of the places where you just feel like you're tearing the right front off of the race car. Every time you go into a corner - especially on older tires - you just hope that the thing is still there. It's always been there. They've done a great job with it. Downforce is what allows the cars to carry so much speed through the corner. That's what we look at these days. We don't build intermediate cars. We just build downforce cars that you can take to Bristol or that you can take to Michigan. We've got downforce, road course, and super speedway (cars). The more downforce you have on the car, the faster you go through the corner and the more speed you have down the straightway. That all adds up to a lot of load on that right front (tire) getting into the turn. I want us to stay conservative. I don't want to be going into the corner blowing right fronts and pounding the wall. That hurts."

IF YOU WENT INTO THE CORNERS SLOWER, COULD GUYS GET MORE SIDE-BY-SIDE?

"If you dropped 10 or 20 mph out of the cars, you'd still have the kind of racing we have now. If you put a restrictor plate on the car, I don't think that would promote the kind of racing we want to see. You'd have to do it in another fashion to make the overall balance of the car go away so that you would still have the kind of racing you have today."

DURING A RACE WHILE ON THE RADIO, DO YOU PREFER YOUR CREW CHIEF TO CHEER YOU ON OR WOULD YOU RATHER NOT HAVE MUCH CONVERSATION?

"You find that your spotter and your crew chief are cheerleaders most of the day - not only for myself, but for the team if they're having good pit stops or bad pit stops. So we all use it in a different fashion. I think we have a moderate amount of traffic on our radios trying to do the cheerleading thing. And it's always good when you're catching someone - or even when you're not catching someone - that they give you that positive encouragement (laughs). It seems to help for a little bit. But usually when you're in a tense situation or up front protecting the lead, it's usually pretty quiet. You need to be focused on your marks and not be surprised if there is too much chatter in the wrong place on the race track. It'll break your concentration and slow you down. It depends on the situation."

HAVE YOU TALKED TO JEFF GORDON SINCE DARLINGTON?

"Yes, he was pretty devastated with all that and he's looking forward to going to Bristol."

CAN YOU SIZE-UP THE COMPETITION CURRENTLY IN THE TOP 10 IN POINTS?

"I think it's a little early. If you look at Jeff (Gordon) for example, who isn't in the top 10 in points, he's going to be a contender when it's all said and done. I haven't even seen the points since Darlington. I think it's the same contenders as last year. All the Roush cars are running strong. Guys show a lot of speed week in and week out (like) Matt Kenseth, Mark Martin, and Curt Busch. The Gibbs guys (Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart) seem stronger this year even though Tony won the championship last year. Ryan (Newman) is always tough. Rusty (Wallace) is tough. DJ. And Elliott Sadler has been on fire this year. I think we'll get used to seeing him up front."

DO YOU THINK THE COMMON TEMPLATES MIGHT BE FAVORING THE SINGLE CAR TEAMS LIKE RICKY CRAVEN AND DAVE BLANEY?

"I think those guys have the same power. I don't know about the No. 77 that much. But I raced against the Cal Wells organization for years in off-road. If there is somebody that has the staying power, it would be him. He's very committed to do whatever it takes. I think Ricky is doing a great job as well. I think it's been great to see what Bootie (Barker) has really done for the No. 77 race team and Blaney working together. I hope that they do. They're all very deserving of it. They put in the hours and the time and the hard work to do it. It's just about those resources. I don't know it's going to develop for them as we get down the stretch."

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR TEAM'S PERFORMANCE IN THIS SECOND YEAR SO FAR?

"There are a lot of different strengths to our team. It just starts with the dedication that our race team puts into racing. They give me everything they've got at the shop and at the race track. It puts me in a position to win races and be competitive. I put it back on what the team has been able to do and to provide that has me running up front."

DO YOU MOTIVATE THE TEAM IN ORDER TO KEEP THEIR SUPPORT GOING STRONG?

"Absolutely. We have a young group of guys. This is the first time I've been in the situation. I've always looked up and around to different people on the race team to set the tone of where we're at and what's going on. In this situation, I'm one of the older guys on the race team at (age) 27. We started off without a clue as to what was going to happen. I found myself in that leadership role with Chad (Knaus) leading the team. My motto has been to give 100 percent. Let's do it with a smile and give everything we've got. Regardless of where we end up, if we know we're giving 100 percent we'll be okay. Some days it's winning (the race) and some days it's (finishing) 27th. Carrying that attitude sets the tone to move on to the next thing. The guys are so young and like a sponge to whatever I throw out there, it really dictates the mood."

ARE YOU SURPRISED AT THE SUCCESS JOE NEMECHEK IS HAVING?

"No. Joe has been competitive in Busch and Winston Cup at different times. He just needed the right program. The No. 25 (team) has worked very hard over the years to have the right program. With Peter Sospenzo (crew chief) coming in, those guys have really got their stuff together and they're consistent. They're doing a great job."

DO YOU THINK DALE EARNHARDT JR. HAS THE CONSISTENCY TO STAY IN THE TOP 10 THIS YEAR?

"He's doing everything he can. He's a smart guy and tries to recognize different things. He knows that consistency has bit him in the past."

ON KEEPING TRACK OF THE POINTS THROUGHOUT THE YEAR

"When you do well, you want to look at it. When you have a bad day, you're almost afraid to look. I don't ever try to avoid it. The season is so long, it just doesn't pay off to get too excited about good things or bad things. I learned that lesson last year. So you just roll with it."

WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE MEMORY ABOUT RUNNING THE WINSTON LAST YEAR AND DO WHAT YOU LIKE ABOUT THE ALL-STAR EVENTS?

"I like the short format. It's kind of like a Saturday night race. It's not the long race we normally have. It's a short format with a lot of hype. Winning the two segments last year was my highlight."

WHAT WILL YOU TAKE FROM LAST YEAR'S EVENT AND APPLY IT TO THIS YEAR'S RACE?

"Don't win the second leg (if you're last, you'll be first in an inverted format).

NOW THAT YOU'VE HAD YOUR FIRST TASTE OF IROC RACING, WHAT DO YOU THINK TALLADEGA WILL BE LIKE?

"That was one of the most intensive races I've had down there at Daytona during SpeedWeeks with all the bumping and banging and hard racing that went on. I would imagine it's going to be another one of those races. I'm looking forward to it. We had a strong run in the first IROC race and hopefully I'll be in a car other than the pink one and we'll have a good day."

ON RACING WITH FOREIGN SERIES RACERS

"At Daytona, I forgot about who was in what car and just tried to stay ahead of them. Everybody did a great job. A few laps into it I quit paying attention to who I was racing and just went to work."

YOU'LL BE STARTING 9TH IN THE IROC RACE AT TALLADEGA DUE TO THE INVERTED FORMAT. HOW IMPORTANT IS YOUR STARTING SPOT?

"It's not a big deal."

Part I

-hm/lowe's-

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Matt Kenseth , Bobby Labonte , Tony Stewart , Jimmie Johnson , Elliott Sadler , Mark Martin