BUSCH: Raybestos Rookie Atlanta - Johnson and Riggs

Jimmie Johnson In The ...

Jimmie Johnson In The #48 Lowe'S Chevrolet Monte Carlo Trails Ryan Newman By 20 Points (337-317) In The Raybestos® Rookie Standings. Johnson Started 15TH And Finished Third In The Mbna America 500 At Atlanta In March And Was The Raybestos® Rookie Of The Race. Johnson Is Second In Winston Cup Points, 82 Behind Leader Tony Stewart. Entering Sunday'S Race At Atlanta, Johnson Has Four Poles, Three Wins, Six Top-Five And 20 Top-10 Finishes.

THE FIRST TIME YOU WENT TO ATLANTA, DID YOU REALIZE HOW FAST THE PLACE WAS?

"I was there in a Busch car and got a good feel for how fast it was. In a Busch car you could run flat out around there at the time with the old engine combination. It was pretty impressive. It's a track where you can be as brave as you ever want to be in qualifying. The race is a different story. You can be brave at the start of a run but the tires start to give up and you can't do that all day long. Qualifying-wise, you are only out of the gas a few car lengths in turns one and two, real easily roll out of it and then roll back into it. As you get into turn three, you really don't need to get out of the gas and you only get out to half or quarter throttle and then get back to wide open again. It's hard to make yourself not lift all the way off the throttle. It makes an exciting lap and you really only like to do one and that's about it (laughs)."

AS FAST AT THE TRACK IS, CAN YOU STILL RACE?

"It's one of our best tracks to race. The race pace slows down a lot and the groove is from the inside wall to the outside wall. That makes for great racing and doesn't limit anyone aero-wise plus it gives you a variety of lines to choose for the setup that your car has."

HOW DIFFERENT IS ATLANTA VERSUS CHARLOTTE?

"Atlanta is totally different than Charlotte. The whole thing is the way the transitions are and the way you catch the banking. Every track is different. It's how you moved the dirt before you poured the asphalt down. Atlanta is a lot smoother than Charlotte to start with, plus the transitions are a little bit more fluent and you catch the banking sooner which will let you carry more speed. Here (at Charlotte) everything is a little bit more abrupt and a little rougher."

HOW MUCH OF A DIFFERENCE IS IT GOING TO BE QUALIFYING AT NIGHT AT ATLANTA?

"It will make it faster."

WHY DO YOU RUN WELL AT TRACKS LIKE ATLANTA?

"Tracks with multiple grooves really work in my favor because with my dirt background I keep searching around for a line that works and usually find something before the day is over."

Scott Riggs In The #10 Nestle Nesquik Ford Is The Leading Raybestos® Rookie In The Nascar Busch Series. Riggs Holds A Commanding 62 Point Lead (281-219) Over Johnny Sauter Entering The Aaron'S 312 At Atlanta Motor Speedway. He Is Eighth In Busch Series Points, 23 Behind Seventh Place Jamie Mcmurray. Entering Saturday'S Race At Atlanta, Riggs Has Racked Up Two Poles, Two Wins, Seven Top-Five And 12 Top-10 Finishes. Riggs Needs To Earn Just Over $87,000 To Surpass $1 Million In Winnings This Season.

HOW MUCH EXPERIENCE DO YOU HAVE AT ATLANTA MOTOR SPEEDWAY?

"I've been there a few times before in a truck. I did a 400-mile engine test for Dodge last year and did a lot of laps around there testing our trucks to go to places like Texas. I thought I had a pretty good grasp on Atlanta and knew what Atlanta was all about until I went back with the Busch car. It's a different left side tire at Atlanta than the Busch Series has even run. The only place that this tires has been run before was when the Winston Cup guys ran it at Atlanta in the spring. It's definitely a little different. The tire seems to walk around, wobble around a little bit. The typical things that you normally do to the car at speedways like Texas and Atlanta, typical fast banked mile and a half racetracks, didn't quite make the drivers feel all that comfortable, including myself. We took a brand new car there and tested. We learned a lot. Jason (Keller), my teammate, was there and he learned a lot. I think from what we learned we are actually taking a different car back. It doesn't seem like a typical car that we would build to go to somewhere like Atlanta I wasn't quite comfortable enough with it. We made some changes and we are going to take a different car back. Hopefully when we go back, being able to go there and test is going to pay off for those that did test. I think it might be a little difficult for people that maybe hadn't been there yet and have not been on this tire before."

CAN YOU TELL HOW FAST YOU ARE GOING AT ATLANTA?

"You can tell you are going a lot faster. The biggest way that I can tell is when you step in the gas. You are already up to speed so much that it's almost like a Daytona or Talladega, it feels like a restrictor plate engine. You are already up to speed so much that you don't really have any torque coming off the corners. It feels like you already have it stretched out. You can tell that you are going fast, but after you get there and get comfortable after an hour or so of practice, you get comfortable with it and it's all relevant then. You already pick out your marks and your points of where you need to be and where you need to position yourself on the racetrack. You know you're going fast and there are a lot of places that we go fast at. Once you get to Atlanta and get comfortable, everything is relevant. You get used to the speed and you sort of key in on staying focused on feeling your race car and trying to figure out what feels good and what doesn't."

WHAT IS THE CRITICAL PORTION OF THE TRACK?

"I think the most critical place on the racetrack is probably getting into turn one. There's some bumps there getting into turn one and if you don't hit those bumps just right or position your car just right over those bumps you can't carry speed through the corner like you need to and you can't get off two like you need to. If I was going to say a critical spot, it's probably turn one. That's where you are running the fastest, with the dogleg on the front. You are able to carry the most speed around there into turn one and turn one is probably the roughest spot on the racetrack. That's a critical spot I think to make a good lap qualifying and whoever has a car that can be consistent and be good through turn one, or comfortable I should say, the whole race. It's more comfortable than anything else."

HOW MUCH DIFFERENT IS ATLANTA VERSUS TEXAS OR CHARLOTTE? IS ATLANTA VASTLY DIFFERENT?

"You almost drive Charlotte like a short track. It's pretty bumpy and it's real rough. Then on the other hand, you have Texas, which is silky smooth. When we were there in the trucks at Texas we could flat-foot it around the whole racetrack. My teammate Ted (Musgrave) and I were the only two that could actually flat-foot the truck all the way around the racetrack and hold it wide open. There's no way that a truck or anything else could run wide open around Atlanta the whole way. I know a lot of times people in qualifying trim are able to go almost wide open through one and two and maybe even wide open through one and two for a lap or so, but that's just in qualifying mode. At Atlanta. With the banking, you are able to go so fast and it seems narrower. It might not be narrower than Texas, but it seemed to be narrower than Texas. You are running so much faster than you do at Charlotte and in the throttle so much more it doesn't even seem that they are both mile-and-a-half racetracks. Atlanta seems even bigger."

-raybestos-

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup , NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Tony Stewart , Ryan Newman , Jimmie Johnson , Scott Riggs , Johnny Sauter