Fontana: Johnson post-race interview

Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe'S Monte Carlo SS - Finished 2nd "It was a good day. We ran in the top-10 most of the day. The car was decent at the start of the run, but then as a run went on, we would get really, really loose. We had so many...

Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe'S Monte Carlo SS - Finished 2nd

"It was a good day. We ran in the top-10 most of the day. The car was decent at the start of the run, but then as a run went on, we would get really, really loose. We had so many long runs, that I got nervous that the best finish we might have was 10th to 15th or somewhere in there. (Crew chief) Darian (Grubb) found something adjustment wise that really made the car competitive for me. At that point we started marching forward and got up there in a position where we could race for the win.

"My hats off to Darian and the guys. We had great pit stops all day long. Everyone stayed nice and calm and cranked off great stops and made great adjustments so all in all I am very excited. We are caring a lot of momentum I feel. Obviously the Daytona 500 win was one thing but coming out of here with the circumstances we have been through this second is very gratifying for our team and everyone is doing a great job."

WAS IT DISCOURAGING TO SEE (GREG) BIFFLE KIND OF DISAPPEAR LIKE HE DID DURING THE RACE?

"You know, I saw more than Biffle disappear at various times during the race. I was really focused on my race car through the 500 mile race. We had so many green flag runs, I was really nervous about things when we got so strung out there. I thought we were going to have a 10th or 15th place finish. Then we started getting some cautions and had a chance to work on the car but about that time he had his engine trouble. From what you are saying, I guess he was checked out on everyone. He is pretty great here, there is no doubting that. Probably had the car that could have won the race. He has won here a few times and has been hooked up here from the Busch car to the Cup car."

WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN YOUR OLD CAR AND THE NEW MONTE CARLO SS?

"I think we are still learning the car. In the past, the car would usually start off usually free and get tight over a run. But today it was the opposite, so I am not sure if it is all body but we are working with a new car. It is still a Monte Carlo but all the templates are different and it is really a whole new model change. We have been working on some other stuff chassis-wise. So, at this point it is still a little early to tell exactly what it is, the car is a little free so if we can get it tightened up a little bit over the long haul I think it will be a great race car for us. It showed its promise to us today, especially at the end of the race. It took us a little while to get there but at least we figured it out. When we get home, we will put the car up on the scales and understand exactly where the car is at, we will have a little more knowledge going in to the Vegas race.

YOU GOT RIGHT ON MATT'S BUMPER AT THE START OF THE GREEN-WHITE-CHECKERED, DID YOU THINK YOU COULD GET BY HIM?

"I thought if I could get to his outside, I would have a chance to force maybe a three or four wide finish at the end, to slow each other down. But when I tried to go to his outside in turn one, as soon as I turned into the corner, the front tires on the thing started chattering , so I stayed on the gas a little bit and tried to get to his quarter and I couldn't. At that point, I checked up and tried to get back underneath him but I had to defend my spot as well. I knew Carl (Edwards) was back there and Casey (Mears) was pretty strong too throughout the race, so I was pretty nervous about those guys too once I knew I couldn't get to his (Matt Kennseth) outside. I gave it a shot, but he had a better car than me at that point."

ON DARIAN GRUBB'S SUCCESS ON TOP OF THE PIT BOX AND CHAD KNAUS COMING BACK

"I have to point out the incredible job Chad has done putting this team together. There is tremendous depth in our team. This was a true test of the depth of our race team and everybody has stepped up and done their jobs. I am very proud of the guys, I know Chad is dying to get back. As happy as he is to see the car run well and perform, I know it is painful to sit at home and watch all this hard work done over the off season payoff here without him. He is learning his lesson, he is going through a difficult time and we can't wait to have him back. But Darian should just retire the way I look at it. "He has four races. Then should just hang it up and say 'Man I was a crew chief and I won the Daytona 500' and call it quits! (laughs)

ON ANY CONCERN OF COMPETITIVENESS OF ROUSH RACING

"There is a lot of concern for the Roush cars and also the 20 car. I think J.J. (Yeley) and Denny (Hamlin) will get in the swing of things and be challenging him (Tony Stewart) before long. To me it looks a lot like last year. I think we at Hendrick Motorsports have closed the gap and we have some great things we are working toward and hopefully we will be on page if not ahead of these guys soon. But they have done great things with the Roush cars and the Gibbs guys are steady and strong and have been for a good 14 months, maybe 18 months when you look back on how these guys ran in '04. They have been on their marks. We have had our runs, won some races and been able to compete, but I think we are really making ground right now.

ON DIFFICULTY TO FOCUS ON RACING WITH ALL THAT IS GOING ON AROUND YOU.

"Before I go to the race track, I think it is natural to over think things and be more concerned. But I learned this in Daytona, if I sit here and harp on it or dwell on the fact Chad is gone and dwell on it, I am going to start the race behind, further behind than I am already. So I believe in my guys, believe in myself, believe in the team and lets just go racing. That is what we did in Daytona and that is what we did this weekend and not that I am surprised, but it is just amazing that our team has been able to perform like it has and I am really proud of them. I am living it again being here with you guys as well. It is like Wow, here we were racing for the win at California with all the troubles we have had."

-gm racing

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Tony Stewart , Jimmie Johnson
Teams Hendrick Motorsports