JIMMIE JOHNSON , NO. 48 IMPALA SS -- Qualified 1st: ON WINNING THE POLE FOR THE BRICKYARD 400: "Only a win on Sunday would make this weekend better. I am grateful for such a great race car these guys prepared. Last two months we all...
JIMMIE JOHNSON , NO. 48 IMPALA SS -- Qualified 1st:
ON WINNING THE POLE FOR THE BRICKYARD 400:
"Only a win on Sunday would make this weekend better. I am grateful for such a great race car these guys prepared. Last two months we all worked very hard in making a lot of great progress. We will see what happens, we have these practices this afternoon and hopefully we get this Lowe's Impala where we need it so we can be up front on Sunday.
HOW IMPORTANT IS TRACK POSITION GOING TO BE SUNDAY?
"Pit strategy is going to be a big part of it but I think pit position is going to be important. Having that first pit stall is going to keep us out of harm's way coming through the pits. Track position during the race will allow us to have some flexibility and hopefully make the day a lot easier for us. It is an interesting race, there isn't really a clear plan for anyone. We just take each day as it comes and so far we have done the best we could in qualifying and we have two practices coming up and we will do all we can then."
IS THIS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU COME IN WITH THE BEST FRAME OF MIND TO INDIANAPOLIS?
"Every mental coach in the country right now is going to love to hear us, but positive thoughts bring positive things. We are off to a good start so hopefully we don't find any negativity out there."
WHAT IS DIFFERENT FOR YOU HEADING INTO THE BRICKYARD THIS YEAR?
"I think a lot of it is the time of the season. In years past we got off to a great start and then in the summer months, were a little tough on us, then things picked up at the end of the season. This year is just the opposite, we got off to a slow start and things are really coming together for us. The team and I are really in sync with the car and what it is doing and what we need from it. I had high hopes coming in here, felt really good about it.
"Probably, I crash, catch on fire then come back and do well. Then crashed and caught on fire last year so it is our turn to do well this year."
WHAT WOULD IT BE LIKE FOR A 49 YEAR-OLD DRIVER TO COME HERE AND WIN THIS RACE?
"I think it would be awesome if Mark Martin won this race. I think Mark is the fan favorite on any note, whether it's for a championship race win, a big race, or whatever it may be. The guy has gone out there and earned the respect from the competitors in the garage, from the fans, and it would be special to see him win. I'd also like to see him win because he's going to be a teammate next year. But all that nice stuff aside, I want to go out and win too."
CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT THE FEW SMALL MISTAKES YOU MENTIONED ABOUT YOUR QUALIFYING RUN?
"With each corner, you gain confidence in the car. I got through Turn 3 and was good; got through Turn 4 and came to the green and knew I had something special. I tried a little harder through (Turn) 1 and it stuck; got to (Turn) 2 and was too aggressive, it didn't stick (laughs), got to (Turn) 3 and didn't adjust enough and missed it a little bit and then once I got to (Turn) 4, I had it right again. This track is really difficult. Each turn may look very similar, but each turn is so different and it's tough to put together one full clean lap."
ON HOW SPECIAL WINNING THIS RACE HAS BEEN
"When I look back at the Daytona 500, the Brickyard, and the championship, there was so much that went on that year that it's hard to really look back and savor one aspect of it. I'd love to experience it again. I look back at photos and coming through the gates here and pulling out onto the track brings back memories. And in watching ESPN they talk about past winners and show footage from winning and those moments really bring back what we've done and cool the experience is here. I just hope to experience it again sometime."
CAN IT GIVE YOU CONFIDENCE FOR A RACE EVEN THOUGH IT'S BEEN A COUPLE OF YEARS AWAY?
"You know it's really a whole new start to this year with the car. No one has been here with the set up so everything is in a learning curve right now."
HOW MUCH CONFIDENCE DOES IT GIVE YOU WHEN YOU ARE QUICK RIGHT OUT OF THE BOX?
"It really helps get things moving in the right direction. It helps for qualifying and the fact that I can climb in there and really get aggressive with the car. But we've got race practice later today and that's when we really need to make sure things are right and get our balance right for the race car."
DOES THIS TEAM NEED A BOOST LIKE THIS?
"No, we've been earning every bit of the speed we've shown up with here the last month and a half, or two months. It would be nice to win and really set things over the top. Even though two weeks ago was a disappointing second (place finish), that really gave the team a lot of confidence in the areas where we've been working. It's tough, especially when you come off a championship year and get off to a slow start and it starts getting in your head a little bit.
"We've just had to get to work and find speed and find ways to make the car have more grip and be more comfortable so I can get in there and wheel it. And we've been doing that. So it's been a real rewarding month, month and a half in the car and at the race tracks. We look to expand on that this weekend."
-credit: gm racing