BEHIND THE HAULER CHAT WITH JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S MONTE CARLO SS: ON TODAY'S PRACTICE: "It reminds me a lot of last week when the sun was out and the car was really loose. It was real tough to get a hold of the race track. I'm banking a...
BEHIND THE HAULER CHAT WITH JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S MONTE CARLO SS:
ON TODAY'S PRACTICE: "It reminds me a lot of last week when the sun was out and the car was really loose. It was real tough to get a hold of the race track. I'm banking a lot on the track cooling down and the conditions coming back to me. I think we're a little bit better at this point then we were last week. Once we got on the race track the sun went down and with the race conditions we were real happy with the race car."
ON HIS CHANCE OF WINNING FOUR STRAIGHT: "I'm very, very excited for the chance to try to go to the record books. It's a long race. A lot can happen as we all know over 600 miles. It's hard to really favor someone and go to bet on someone. We've got a great track record here. You can't argue with that. The All Star event went really well for us and we brought that race car back. We feel like we're a little bit smarter with this car. We understand it. We're looking forward to it. We just have to get in there and get racing and see what takes place. It's going to be a much different race than what we've ever had here before. I think this Lowe's team is up for challenge. We've been working real hard to understand pit stops and the tires and strategy and all the things that go into it."
ON THIS BEING A RACE OF UNKNOWNS: "I think some of the unknowns were figured out last weekend. In my opinion I feel much more confident about this weekend's race than I did with the All Star event. I think we all have a little bit experience with the track and the changing conditions of the track and also the fuel window. We had a green flag pit stop that we had to make during the All Star Challenge. I think we're more comfortable this weekend than we were last weekend."
ON PIT STOP STRATEGY: "All the teams recognize the challenge that is coming up with this event. We've made adjustments specifically for this race and our crew guys did different things. The strategy is going to be much different. The race engineer and the crew chief sitting on the pit box have to look for other opportunities that they didn't do in the past.
"Every 17 minutes we're under green flag and we'll be on pit road so the crew guys are going to double their pit stops than what they typically do so they'll need to stay off the Twinkies and start drinking Gatorade to get ready for this race."
HOW HAVE YOU AND YOUR TEAM BEEN ABLE TO FEED OFF OF YOUR SUCCESS HERE? "The success we've had here has really been the confidence in ourselves and in our race cars knowing that once we get into the night and when the points are on the line or the money is on the line in the All Star race, that we will have the right set up. They're testing Busch and Cup. We were very loose and out of control on the race track even leading into the All Star weekend. Last weekend once we got into race conditions we had what we needed. Also that's really all we car about is the points and finishing the race. Going into qualifying I'm a little nervous about how we're going to run. I'm not expecting a top-five or pole position in qualifying but I know that once we get in the race and start doing our thing out there that we got what we need."
WHAT IS IT LIKE TO KNOW EVERYONE ELSE ON THE FIELD IS TRYING TO BEAT YOU? "Most drivers climb in their car feeling they are the guy to beat. Here I think that our success speaks for itself. There's a lot of really good cars, you look at the 9, 20, 5, 24. Those guys were running really good in practice. I'm not sure the target is really on my back."
WHAT IS IT LIKE TO ADJUST TO ALL THE CHANGING CONDITIONS OF THIS RACE TRACK OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS? "There's been a lot of challenges and really at times a lot of frustration trying to understand the track and the set ups that we need at this race track. I don't know why at the beginning we get out there and get around other cars and start racing with people and our stuff comes to life and we're able to race our way up there and be in potential for the win. I'm very confident coming forth from the situation last weekend. The race is definitely bringing the Lowe's team in here with a lot of confidence. We'll just get in there and get to work for 600 miles. That's the great thing about this race. There are a lot of chances to make your car better but at the same time we're a very consistent team. We just need to do our job on the pit stops. I can always count on the consistency of this 48 team."
RICK HENDRICK SPOKE EARLIER TODAY ABOUT THE FIRST MEETING WITH LOWE'S WHEN THEY SIGNED YOU AND HOW THEY ASKED YOU IF YOU COULD WIN. DO YOU REMEMBER WHAT THAT WAS LIKE? DID YOU KNOW WHAT TO SAY IN THAT INSTANCE? "I knew what to say in that instance but I wasn't expecting a loaded gun to be pointed at my head.
"Those that know the CEO of Lowe's know he's very passionate about the company and was going to do whatever he could to bring winning ways to Lowe's including the race team. I was doing something with my Busch team at the time. I flew in and they were still meeting. When the race was over I had the chance to meet the CEO and the other executives with Lowe's. I wasn't sitting down for 10 minutes and the loaded gun was pointed at me. I knew what I needed to say. I'm glad I've been able to go out and back it up. I think Rick (Hendrick) and Jeff (Gordon) and myself were all nodding yes saying of course but there were a lot of unknowns at that time. I know I'm glad I've been able to do my part to back it up."
IF YOUR STREAK COMES TO AN END THIS WEEKEND, IS KYLE BUSCH THE GUY THAT COULD DO IT? "I think so. When I came out here and tested for the first tire test, knowing Kyle's driving style and the way he hits the gas and the brake and all those things, the first thing I said on the radio was this is a Kyle Busch track. So I definitely think he's taken very well to this race track and the re-paving fits his driving style."
DO YOU THINK KYLE BUSCH HAS LOOSENED UP OVER THE LAST FEW WEEKS? "He is definitely trying as hard as he can to do the right thing. That's one thing that we all recognize in working with him is that he is a huge talent and he is trying and that's all you can ask for. Once the momentum shifts it direction good or bad, it's hard to overcome and it's tough to shift around. I think he's working very hard to do the things right outside of the race car and inside of the car he can hold his own."
HOW CLOSE IS YOUR SET-UP? "This weekend I'm not really sure where we are. I haven't been paying too much attention. I haven't really looked around at the other set-ups."
YOU'VE HAD SO MUCH SUCCESS HERE, DO YOU THINK HUMPY SHOULD PUT A MILLION DOLLAR BOUNTY ON YOU FOR THE RACER THAT CAN BEAT YOU? "They've changed the surface three times to try to mess me up. I might have a value on my head here."