Continued from part 1
THE MODERATOR: Let's take one more upstairs. Any other questions upstairs?
Q: Jeff, all that talk about being unbreakable and being the leader and being hard to catch. Don't you feel that your opponents are trying to put a little bit of psychological pressure on it? If so, how are you planning to handle that, because you know that's what they seem to be doing?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: I don't think us drivers are that smart.
JEFF BURTON: And I'm not smart enough to take it like that either. You know, sports is a funny way to make a living. If somebody says you're not doing worth of a crap, everybody says they're trying to psych you out. If somebody says you're doing really good, they say they're trying to psych you out.
I just don't believe in all that. I think you just you know there's a reason. Sorry to all you guys. There's a reason I don't read the papers. There's a reason that I don't watch a whole lot of TV concerning our sport. The only thing I really watch is a replay of the race. And I don't watch that until we get ready to go back to that race.
So I've been around long enough to know that you what my peers think of me means a great deal to me. But what people write in the media or what, you know, I just don't get into all that. And I take it as a huge compliment when somebody says something good about me or our race team. And that's all I take it as, as a compliment. When somebody says bad about it, then, you know, I try to understand what they're talking about.
And I don't I just don't understand how somebody saying something good about you can be a head game. I just don't get into that. I don't think the head game thing would be even brought up if we didn't have the 'Wheel Gate' situation where everybody started talking about, you know, it's mind games and this and that. I mean, I just don't buy all that.
THE MODERATOR: Question here then we'll go over there. Go ahead.
Q: Jeff, before Mark Martin's accident, he and you were going back and forth trading for the points lead then he was in kind of a freak accident and when he got out of the car he said, The championship's just not meant for me ever. I know and we all know he is a pretty big pessimist. Do you think there's anything to that? Could the guy just truly be cursed?
JEFF BURTON: No. If Mark Martin is a cursed individual, then life's not fair at all. There's no fairness to it whatsoever. He's genuinely a good person. He is the kind of person you'd want your children to grow up and emulate except for the pessimism. You would like them to be a little more optimistic. By the way, Jimmie, they crowned me in here Thursday. When Mark retires, I'm the most pessimistic person in racing (laughter).
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Thank you.
JEFF BURTON: I feel you know, I feel bad for Mark that he'll not sleep tonight. At the same time, you know, stuff turns around really quickly. But Mark Martin is if Mark Martin never win as championship and never wins another race, you know what, it doesn't matter because he has had a positive impact on this sport. When he came to this sport, he left it better than when he got here. And he's had a huge impact on a lot of young drivers. And he's taught a lot of young drivers the racing etiquette that is proper. You know, Mark is the kind of person that deserves a championship.
But, you know, I can understand that people look at championships as a way of defining greatness. But with Mark Martin, he is a great driver, and he is a great person.
THE MODERATOR: Next question.
Q: Jimmie, are you and Kasey going to maybe rent the track and come out here and race each other for like a thousand miles? You two apparently are the only two guys that can win here. I mean, you and Kahne have won the last 47 races or something at this track. What is it about you two guys that I mean he's beat you, you finished second to him twice this year, and God knows how many times you have won before that. Is it just something that suits your style? Do you have just a good car? Is there something special about you and Kasey at this track?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: I do think this track for myself personally, there's a certain style and certain way you drive it, and it's just works well for myself, and for the cars that Chad puts together for me. It's been a great place for both of us.
I look at Kasey's success here. I can remember chasing him a lot of different nights, and he blew a tire or had something that went wrong. He was definitely a threat for the win, and I ended up getting the trophy that night for whatever reason. So it comes as no surprise to me he has won the two ace races here this year.
You know, he's always been good here, from the old surface, the grinding, and to the new surface he has been strong here.
THE MODERATOR: Next question.
Q: Last year we had two bad races here and the solution was come with rock hard tires and small fuel cells. You guys both came in here tonight and first thing each of you said was basically it was kind of miserable trying to build up a rhythm driving with a small fuel cell. Are you going to go to NASCAR or have anybody on your team goes NASCAR and say, We don't need these any more? What's the process with something like that?
JEFF BURTON: What matters to me isn't so much what we think, but was the quality of race okay and what's the smartest thing for safety. If the cars drive bad, I don't care, as long as everybody drives bad.
The fuel cell comment from me was just that, you know, we are so used to racing a certain way that when you change it, it's hard to get in a rhythm. But, you know, it's the same for everybody. I'd rather pit every 35 laps and have a tire that's too hard than blow out right fronts because I'm too old to hit any more. I'm telling you, it hurts. I'd rather pit every 35 laps and know the tires aren't going to blow out.
And I think any time we go to a new racetrack, a fast big racetrack that's paved, they ought to put tires that are too hard and small fuel cells, just for the first couple races and just get you through, because there is a history of having catastrophic tire failures at places that have new surfaces.
And I'll take tonight's race and May's race over last year's races any day, any day.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: I'll just add a little bit more to that.
I agree with Jeff's point of view on all of that. I think after two races, and if NASCAR looks at I think I went three different stops without putting tires on, just fuel only. They weren't full runs. But the fact that we got up near and around a regular size fuel cell run, I truly think next time we'll come back.
The Busch cars ran with the big fuel cells in both races, if I can remember right, they didn't have any trouble. So I think there's enough in the right direction on top of Jeff and I's comments of the race and how it wasn't like our normal rhythm on the racetrack where we will come back with a big fuel cell.
As far as the tire, they did a great job with the tire. We're flying around here. I don't know if I would want to be out there on a stickier tire because the cars and the surface, the way the cars drive now and how good the surface is, we're going way too fast. Not too fast from a safety standpoint but too fast to run side by side and put on a good race.
If we go any faster, it will just be a single file race. Right now I still think we could use more side-by-side racing here.
JEFF BURTON: We don't want more grip. Last night's Busch race was like unbelievable how fast you were going. Then tonight, I mean we don't need more grip.
Q: Jimmie, you are 146 points back. Statistically you can make that up in one race, but you got six guys in front of you. You've had to come from behind in the past. How challenging is it to move up in the standings and pass so many people? And points wise, statistically you could be the leader next week. But how challenging is it to pass six guys or so many guys at this point in the season?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: There's no doubt it's big challenge. The one thing that I look at is how tough it's been on all the Chase guys. Nobody's had a clean run so far. Everybody's had some form of problem. So I think that I can be optimistic.
If we can go out there and do our jobs, I still feel like we can be in contention when we get to Homestead. I don't think we can make any more mistakes on our side, we can't have any more bad luck. We need to be earning points and collecting points from here on out. But it's not going to be easy.
When you look at how strong Jeff has been and look at Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick, there's a lot of good tracks for those guys coming up. It's going to be a tough order, a big order.
THE MODERATOR: Let's go upstairs for any final questions in the press box. Are we clear? Go ahead. One question. Let's go.
Q: Jimmie, we keep talking about how hard it is to pick up ground, yet this Chase, with the exception of the guy sitting next to you, seems to turn over every week. Have you put a lot of thought into the fact that however your situation is now it's not near as bad as it was at this same point two years ago?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: I think about that. I think that we're, you know, in a much better situation now than we were then. And I think the 48 team and myself, we keep that in the back of our minds. I even hear other teams reference what we were able to do a couple years ago and come back and get right in the middle of things.
So we'll just keep fighting. This thing isn't over until it's over at Homestead. I know this 48 team is going to work as hard as they can to keep giving me great race cars. I'll go out there and drive my butt off and hopefully we can be in contention.
Q: Jeff, as the pessimist heir apparent to Mark Martin I have to ask you this. Five races to go, you are so mild mannered and cool. How do you stay cool in the next five races knowing what may or may not happen for you?
JEFF BURTON: I think the key is you can't worry about the things you can't control and you need to do your best to control the things you can control. And, you know, it's in perspective of things, we're working really hard. When we're racing, the championship is everything in our life. But there's other things going on in the world too.
And certainly, you know, every one of the competitors' goals is to be a NASCAR champion. That's certainly what we strive for. At the same time, I'm just old enough to appreciate how hard it is, and appreciate the opportunity that we have in front of us. And I'm also just old enough to understand that the sun's coming up tomorrow regardless of what happens on any given Sunday.
So I certainly take this very seriously, put a tremendous amount of effort into it. But I also, like I said before, don't take ourselves too seriously. It's a lot of work, a lot of dedication, but there's also things that are bigger in life and more important. And I think that's a good perspective.
You know, this is a great example. These guys, in my opinion, you know, have every right to be champions. They've run well enough to be champions. And it's just one reason or another hadn't worked out for them. It isn't because he is not a championship driver. It isn't because Chad isn't a championship team or Hendricks isn't a championship organization. To this point it hasn't worked out. It may work out this year. It may work out next year. But, to me, I don't look at him differently because they didn't win a championship last year, or didn't win a championship the year before. I don't look at them differently. I know how good they are and have a lot of respect for them. Being around Mark has taught me that. If Mark Martin hasn't been able to win a championship, then, you know, it's okay if you don't win one, as long as you put forth the effort and put yourself in position.
It's not to say I'm not taking this seriously and not to say it doesn't mean a great deal to me because I've worked since I was five to get here. But you know there is a perspective that I think is healthy.
THE MODERATOR: Okay guys congratulations. Have a good weekend. We'll see you next week.
-credit: gm racing