Team Chevy Racing
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET met with media and discussed Richard Hammond and Travis Pastrana, track resurfacing & reconfiguring, recent clean racing and if that might change, and more.
GIVE US A RUNDOWN ON YOUR VISIT WITH RICHARD HAMMOND, HOST OF TOP GEAR ON BBC AMERICA, LAST WEEK “That was fun to spend some time with him in Texas last year, I believe it was; and then I’m happy to know the show is going to be coming out. We did a teleconference on Tuesday. And to hear his excitement; I saw him early in the trip and spent some time with him, and to hear his reaction to his experience was very cool to me. And I know that throughout Europe there are a lot of race fans over there and if we can open up our sport to them and expose NASCAR to them, they’ll quickly become NASCAR fans. I’m happy to be on the show. It’s been a very successful show and I look forward to the new fans joining us.”
TALK ABOUT RICHMOND “It’s fun to be back on a short track. This track has always been extremely racey over the years and I don’t expect anything less. Last night’s K&N Series race had me on the edge of my seat. I was thoroughly impressed with the racing that took place and hope that we have that tonight with the Nationwide race and then again tomorrow night in the Cup race.”
I know I was part of some discussion with the Michigan repave and some safety deals with the walls...
WE KNOW YOUR CONFIDENCE LEVEL AT THIS TRACK. NEXT WEEK YOU GO TO A TRACK WHERE YOUR CONFIDENCE LEVEL IS VERY HIGH. YOU HAVE TWO WINS AT TALLADEGA AND TWO SECOND-PLACE FINISHES AND FOUR POLES. WHY IS YOUR CONFIDENCE LEVEL SO HIGH AT TALLADEGA? “For a minute there, I didn’t know which track we were going to. So I’m glad you mentioned Talladega (laughs). That was going to be my first question is where do we go next week? We’ve been hit or miss here, so I’m very hopeful that we’re on. But Talladega is always fun; especially this time of the year. When we get there during the Chase, if you’re in the Chase, it’s just really a stressful event. But with the rules as they are, it should be exciting and we should see a lot more pack racing and put on a great show for everybody.”
YOUR VIDEO WITH TRAVIS PASTRANA WAS FUNNY AND YET DISTURBING “I don’t disagree.” (laughter)
HOW COME YOU DIDN’T WEAR A SPEEDO OR TAKE YOUR SHIRT OFF? WHO MADE THE SCRIPT AND WHAT WAS THE THINKING BEHIND IT AND HOW DID ALL THAT COME ABOUT? “As you can see there was very little planning that went into making that film; although Travis and I spoke about it right around his announcement. It’s been a while. His hair grew from where it normally is to that big mop he had been sporting for a while. And we just couldn’t sort out the exact time to tape. And then he and (Andy) Bell wanted to do the ice swim and that stunt and a lot of different things were going on and our schedules were all busy and it just worked out and we shot that on Monday, I think Monday morning at Lake Norman area, actually at T.J. Bell’s house. It was literally a last-minute thing. Hey I’m in town and we’ve got to do this thing. Can you run up there to the lake and we’ll shoot the video? I did and I did my spots. I read this really makeshift script of what was going to happen, and then the editing versions started to come through. There were only two. I saw version one and version two (laughs). So, it was very loosely done just to have some fun. It’s very true to what Travis does. It’s a little different for me, which was fun. Luckily I wasn’t asked to be in a Speedo or take my shirt off or wrestle and beat each other up like those goons did; or swim in the ice or swim in icy water. But it was fun to be a part of that thing. I’m glad people enjoyed it and I do agree. It was slightly disturbing.”
THE RACING HAS BEEN CLEAN, NO CAUTIONS, & NO RESTARTS. DO YOU ANTICIPATING IT CHANGING OR HEATING-UP BASED SIMPLY ON THE FACT THAT IT’S RICHMOND THIS WEEKEND, WITH TALLADEGA AND DARLINGTON COMING UP? “Yeah, I really do. I think the venues play a larger part in the excitement, the action, and even the cautions. We can look at the old Bristol and put that down there. That created cautions. Right now, the sport is as competitive as it’s ever been. I’m not sure it translates that way or the way that some want it to. But the entire field, when you watch qualifying, it’s so tight. The racing, the reason we can’t pass more often is we’re all virtually running the same speed. You have to be a half-second faster to pass someone or three-tenths at least; and when you’re a tenth or two off of the leaders, from first to 20th, you can’t pass. So, I understand why we’re here. And the Car of Tomorrow has brought a lot of great things for us. But I don’t think we can look at the garage area for the next change. I think the change comes with the venues. The change comes with the resurfacing of tracks and reconfiguring tracks to make more side-by-side racing. And then there’s also the argument of tracks that create more cautions that some people want to see. From a competition side, NASCAR has created a very level playing field, which we were all after. And now we need to look at the venues and try to put on a better show based on the tracks.”
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE ANNOUNCEMENT AT BRISTOL? DO YOU THINK IT’S GOING TO MAKE MUCH DIFFERENCE IN HOW YOU RACE THERE AND THE QUALITY OF THE SHOW? “It’ll make a change. Where it goes, I don’t know. There’s one side of my thought process that says well, certainly it’ll be rougher up there and we’ll chew the tires up and maybe slowdown that lane in the long haul. But then when we had the grinding done at Martinsville, it actually picked the pace up and the bottom where they thought they were going to hurt didn’t really hurt it; yet it added some tire wear. But depending on the length of the run, the bottom was the place to be. So, I don’t know what’s going to happen. In one respect I applaud Bruton (Smith) for trying to make a change and for trying to do something, but we won’t know what the race will be like until we’re there. Really, even in a practice, it will be tough to tell. I think we’ll have to get into the race and really see tire fall-off, tire wear, and what tire Good year brings; all that kind of stuff, to figure it out.”
BRUTON SMITH SAYS HE DOESN’T CONSULT DRIVERS WHEN CHANGING TRACKS. A FEW DRIVERS HAVE TAKEN OFFENSE TO THAT BECAUSE YOU ARE THE GUYS WHO HAVE TO DRIVE ON IT. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS? “I don’t disagree. I know that there are a lot of drivers in the garage area including myself that have made it known and have been available for any meeting that we’ve been asked to (attend). I’d have to say the last one I was asked to was regarding the Phoenix redesign. I know a lot of drivers were and I don’t think any of our comments really transitioned into the track (laughs). We came back with a vision of what it would look like and it was completely different than what we all talked about. I know I was part of some discussion with the Michigan repave and some safety deals with the walls and some areas to look in, but we’re all available and open and would love to give our opinions when asked. But I wasn’t asked on this one and I wasn’t asked about Kansas. You can only give responses when you’re asked.”
WHEN YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE A VICTORY IN THE BAG AND YOU GET SENT, AND SOMEBODY ELSE WINS BECAUSE YOU WERE WRECKED, WHAT IS THE CHALLENGE LIKE TO OVERCOME THAT AND PUT IT BEHIND YOU? “If the guy that sent you wins, the anger is really high. If there is some sweet revenge that takes place and he gets caught-up or taken out, you feel a little bit better about it. But it just depends on history. If it’s been building, you might head over there and try to sort it out; maybe inside the truck and avoid some fines. Or, you just file it away and wait for your chance on-track. There’s a lot of different approaches.”
WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER FROM 2008 WHEN KYLE BUSCH WRECKED EARNHARDT HERE? WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER ABOUT THE WAY JUNIOR RESPONDED TO THAT? PUT ON YOUR THINKING CAP “I hate thinking. I can’t remember. I think Junior was pretty cool about it if I remember right. It was just kind of a racing thing and in Turn 3, air-off the No. 18 got up into the No. 88. I remember the reaction from the fans was far more impactful than the reaction from Junior.”
YOU’RE IN A STRETCH WHERE YOU’VE BEEN REALLY, REALLY FAST AND IN POSITION TO WIN; BUT FOR A VARIETY OF REASONS HAVE NOT. FROM THE PERIOD OF TIME WHEN YOU’VE WON FIVE STRAIGHT CHAMPIONSHIPS, PEOPLE HAVE SAID WHAT COMES AROUND, GOES AROUND; AND THE LAW OF AVERAGES IS GOING TO CATCH-UP. DO YOU FEEL YOU’VE SORT OF PAID FOR EVERY GOOD BREAK YOU’VE HAD IN FIVE YEARS OF CHAMPIONSHIPS? “Man, there are some instances where it does cross my mind. But my mindset from when I started and through the championships and still now, is if you run in the Top 5, especially the Top 3 week after week, you’re going to win your fair share of races. And I fully believe in that statement. And although there are times I’ve left the track disappointed with a second or a third or whatever it may be, or 12th at Martinsville because I felt like we had a good shot at it, I still really believe in that philosophy and I’m very happy with how we’re running and the speed we have in our cars. But, over the stretch of my career and during those five championships, I think back to races where things certainly went my way. To win five in a row, you need some things to stack-up and go your way. But I do drive a guy’s race car that believes you create your own luck. So my mind does wander off into kind of the luck side of things at times. And then I deal with (crew chief) Chad (Knaus) and he’s all about you create your own luck. There are a lot of mechanical things that take place and physical things that take place where there isn’t any luck involved; at least not in the long run, you’re right.”