JIMMIE JOHNSON , NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET - POLE-WINNER: "I'm just so thankful to have the crew guys every week that I do and Chad Knaus. There's just something about this track that Chad likes and that I like. We have the right package from ...
JIMMIE JOHNSON , NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET - POLE-WINNER:
"I'm just so thankful to have the crew guys every week that I do and Chad Knaus. There's just something about this track that Chad likes and that I like. We have the right package from Hendrick Motorsports and we've been good here. Thankfully, being the Lowe's driver at Lowe's Motor Speedway, I'm glad that this is one of my strongest tracks. It was a great effort and we've felt very comfortable and confident about our chances throughout the whole month of May when we were practicing and qualifying last week for the All-Star event.
"We were a little nervous because we didn't test for the first time coming into the month of May here. We were able to get some things sorted out right away in practice for the All-Star event and felt like we were on track. So we were very pleased."
DID YOU SENSE EARLY ON THAT YOU'D BE ABLE TO TAKE THE TOP QUALIFYING SPOT?
"I did. The way I got though Turns 1 and 2, I knew that the car was really hooked up. When I got into Turns 3 and 4, I was pretty loose when I went back to the gas and had to pause on the way down with the gas pedal and kind of let things straighten up. I was a little nervous coming off of Turn 4. I wasn't sure if I had enough to get it. I even came on the radio and said, 'Man, if I've got this, let me know'. Shortly thereafter, he (Chad Knaus) was screaming and yelling so I figured that was good enough."
ON ALREADY BEING CONFIDENT AND COMFORTABLE AND THEN LEARNING YOU HAD SUCH A LATE QUALFYING DRAW
"It's amazing the roller coaster that you take on confidence. When I saw a pole on the pick there, my confidence skyrocketing. I watched Ryan (Newman) bust off that lap and it kind of leveled off. And then I watched Jeff Gordon and Brian Vickers go out and my confidence began to rise again because I knew we were better then they were in practice. We at least had a chance, if we made the right adjustments, to beat the No. 12. We were able to step up and do it."
NOW THAT IT'S BEEN A YEAR, HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO REALIZE WHAT AN ACCOMPLISH IT WAS TO WIN BOTH THE ALL-STAR AND THE 600 LAST YEAR?
"That's not something that I do. I'm going to hang onto all my photos and the trophies and everything and someday when I slow down and hang the helmet up, I'll go back and reflect on it. But in our sport, if you spend to much time remembering what you did, somebody else around you is really hungry. Our sport doesn't really let you savor much for long."
IS IT A HIGH PRIORITY FOR HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS TO RUN WELL AT THIS RACE TRACK?
"I don't think there is any more importance on it. All the teams want to run well every week. There's a lot of hype building up to the 600. Everybody pumps themselves up. But it's equal for all the teams. When the green flag drops on Sunday, I'll be in my own zone doing my own thing like I do every week. But we want to win this race just as bad as any other one.
"We have a very strong baseline set-up at Hendrick Motorsports. Jeff Gordon has had a lot of success here. Brian Vickers isn't scared to sit on the gas. I've had success here. All that plays into it and we all had a good showing."
ON THE DIFFERENCE IN THE TRACK FROM PRACTICE TO QUALIFYING
"The track changed a lot from the beginning of practice. Even during practice it made a drastic turn. And then it seemed to stabilize. I expected to have a bigger advantage going later. But the evening temperature really hasn't dropped a ton. There definitely was an advantage to going late, but it wasn't as big as it has been in some years."