Johnson - Friday media visit

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JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET met with members of the media at Auto Club Speedway and discussed racing at Auto Club Speedway, the race at Las Vegas and other topics.

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT COMING BACK TO CALIFORNIA?: “We had a great weekend in Bristol. Went the right direction in the points and certainly an uplifting weekend with good pit stops, good race cars and everything. In the season we’ve had a couple bumps in the road. We’re still learning a lot, but last weekend was a great shot in the arm. Coming to one of our best tracks and excited to be here.”

WHAT HAVE YOU DONE SINCE YOU’VE BEEN IN CALIFORNIA?: “I came out Wednesday afternoon and we taped for the show Breaking In -- the new Fox show that will be out in April. Filmed that and played myself. There’s a situation that we have as a race team and the show is based on this. Christian Slater runs and owns this investigative service company and we have some issues on our team and we need their help. I go in and talk to his group and go through some things, get some help and they help us solve our problem. We have somebody that’s on the radio during the races and they affect me in a way to where I lose the race. We go to them for help. The whole episode is kind of built around the team, the car, us so it’s going to be really cool and I’m glad to be a part of it. That took most of yesterday to be honest. It was a long day. Didn’t seem like it, but once we looked at the watches when we got out of there, it took a full day. Came over this morning from Los Angeles, had a good dinner last night with some friends and that was it. I’m going to stay a day after as well -- we’re taping a Lowe’s commercial for a program they have coming up. We’ll be out here an extra day and then come home Tuesday.”

HOW HAS SPLITTING UP THE RACE SHOPS AFFECTED YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH JEFF GORDON?: “I honestly can’t say that there’s a big difference. The times I see the other drivers are really at track in our meetings and debriefs or our post-race phone calls, meetings that we go through and all of that is still the same. Inside the shop there are some changes -- minor again because we only changed the drivers. We didn’t change the teams around. I think that it was a very well thought through plan. It’s worked well and I think we’re off to a good start. Shaking things up a bit has been helpful. We as a group are still trying to figure out the mouse trap that we’ve built over the off season so we’re all getting stronger and better as a team. It’s going really well. The one thing I can say is that just have (Dale Earnhardt) Junior teamed up with Stevie (Letarte, crew chief) -- you all know their personalities and Steve is a fun guy. It brings that out in Junior a lot more. I see a lot of smiles on his face and Stevie is just Stevie doing his thing. It’s entertaining to say the least.”

HOW WOULD YOU ASSESS YOUR SEASON SO FAR?: “I think we’re in good shape. We’re not where we want to be. I think we still have a lot of room for improvement from the speed in the cars, a little bit on pit road -- although if we hadn’t had that issue late in the race at Bristol, if you look at our average pit stop time, even including that -- it’s the best we’ve had as the 48 team. Those guys, the stops leading up to that last one were in the 12s. They did an amazing job. We have speed on pit road. We’re finding the speed with the car and I think that if I can rate us -- we’ve done maybe in the B or B minus range right now. Not bad with all that we’ve changed over the off season. A lot of room to grow.”

HOW CONCERNED WOULD YOU BE IF YOU DON’T RUN WELL THIS WEEKEND?: “The progression is absolutely right. So Vegas is the first mile-and-a-half and we’ve had a couple weeks to work on some new ideas and then hopefully we can get out and get to work today. Every lap is going to help us progress our cars. If we leave here with a poor run, it’s right in front of us, we know we have a lot of work to do. I feel like we have a direction and hopefully we’re competitive and run well. This weekend’s race will really tell the tale.”

DO YOU THINK YOUR TEAM IS STILL A WORK IN PROGRESS?: “It is a work in progress, but it’s weird how and I’ve seen this over my career, you could be out of rhythm, not have the runs going like you want, but you go to a track that’s good for you and the results come. In a small way, I know we’re here and I have expectations and hopes of winning, but if I really think it through, I would say that a top-five run would be our goal. Don’t want to lose anymore points and want to continue to build a gap between where we are and 10th. There’s still a chance that we could win here. We’ve come here before struggling and have found a way to win. I’m optimistic about our chances.”

ARE YOU DISAPPOINTED THAT THERE IS ONLY ONE RACE AT AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY?: “Time will tell if this race date, I guess it was five months since we were here last, but at the end of the day NASCAR is faced with the decision of where are we going to race and have the most fans come out and show their support. We’ve seen some open seats here and that’s just the truth of the matter. I know there are a lot of dedicated race fans in the area, but we need to somehow get them in the seats. I don’t like seeing races taken away from my home state and the west coast because I grew up in an era where we didn’t really have it on television and there wasn’t any close by. I wish that it was closer to us so I hate to see it leave, but at the same time if we don’t have the support then we have to find the areas that will support our sport and fill up the grandstands and all that kind of thing. Only time will tell how this will work out. I feel in my heart that one race will create the buzz. I had a lot of friends who were season ticket holders that when they would miss the spring race, they knew that the fall race was coming, ‘We’re busy, we’ll come in the fall.’ The fall would come and they were busy again so they would go in the spring and before you know it they haven’t been in three or four years. I’m hopeful this will correct some of that.”

CAN YOU USE ANY DATA FROM THIS RACE LAST FALL?: “We ran really good here and finished second or third -- something like that. Think we had a late restart. I know we led a lot -- us and the 5 (Mark Martin) ran really, really well so that will be the baseline setup that we work off of. Then from a concept standpoint, the areas that we’ve been exploring over the off season and at Las Vegas, we’ll start heading that way as the weekend progresses, but we’re going to come back real close or we are very close to how we left here last fall.”

WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE WHOLE ACTING EXPERIENCE YESTERDAY?: “We spent a lot of time just doing the same thing over and over. They would change cameras and get different angles, close-ups of each person involved. Five or six hours went by and we taped a two-minute piece just for that. It was a long day. With the different scenes we ended up taping. The cast, there’s some characters on that cast and there wasn’t a dull moment all day long. I had a great experience with it. It’s an edgy show. Some of the stuff that the actors are going through, there’s no way it will make television, but it was good for laughs and had a great time with it. We did it in Los Angeles at the Sony studios.”

WHAT IS YOUR WORKOUT PROGRAM LIKE?: “It’s always changing and Mark (Martin) is one that I ask a lot of questions about -- from a fitness standpoint, nutrition and a lot of different things. He has crazy knowledge in all those areas related to fitness. It does change and evolve. This year there is still a lot of cardio, but just so that you don’t plateau with the weights, my trainer is always changing things around. It is still very similar to where there is three days of weight lifting, five days of core work and then run schedules that come out anywhere with a short week would be 13 miles to a 25 mile week would be a long week.”

HAVE YOU HAD ANY ACTING TRAINING?: “No training -- trial and error. I guess the commercials we shoot have been my training ground of sorts. The show Las Vegas, four or five years ago and I think I had more on camera time and dedicated three or four days to doing that where this experience was just one day. I would say the Las Vegas show was more intense time schedule. I think this was by far, which Christine (Curley, PR representative) even said I did a good job, which is hard to believe -- she’s not one to pass out compliments. I knew Christian (Slater) from the different years that he has been out here promoting other programs and projects so hung out with him and talked and then the rest of the cast as well. They’re all going to come out for the race as well, we got them hooked up to come out. Hopefully you guys can grab them. The actor that was on Smallville, if you look on the website, his hair is all spiky. That guy is a riot. If you have a chance to ask him some questions, you’ll get quality answers. Not sure you can write or repeat much of what he says, but he’ll be entertaining.”

HOW WILL THE GREEN RACE TRACK AFFECT YOUR RACE ON SUNDAY?: “It will affect tire wear more than anything. Once we get the rubber down, the tires will last a lot longer at that point. This track is old enough to where we don’t need the bottom groove to rubber up too much to where we move around. We know right away that we can go to the outside -- third, fourth groove or maybe even fifth groove in some places and make it work. We’ll spread out quick. That’s the great thing about an older track. I’ve seen four wide a few times and am not necessarily excited to be in those situations, but it’s worked out. Actually we’re below the line in three and four -- there’s guys with all four tires below the yellow line in three and four all the way to the fence so it will be exciting.”

-source: team chevy

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags chevy, johnson, nascar, sprint cup