Johnson Preseason Thunder - GM interview

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S MONTE CARLO SS: THE BURNING QUESTION IS HOW IS YOUR WRIST DOING AND HOW ARE YOU FEELING? "My wrist is good. I'm going to wear a splint in the car just to be smart and to be sure, but the cast is off and the hand...

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S MONTE CARLO SS:

THE BURNING QUESTION IS HOW IS YOUR WRIST DOING AND HOW ARE YOU FEELING?

"My wrist is good. I'm going to wear a splint in the car just to be smart and to be sure, but the cast is off and the hand is working and everything is good. The timing was perfect. I got the off-season to heal up and I'm ready for Daytona."

ARE YOU IN ANY PAIN?

"No. The pain quit - I'd say the first couple of weeks into it the pain was there, but after that, the pain was gone."

HOW MUCH DRIVING HAVE YOU DONE SINCE THEN?

"I was down in the islands and they have these crazy little cars that we raced around the islands in and I did a lot of driving there, so this (the test) is my first time back in a race car."

WILL THIS AFFECT YOU IN THE DAYTONA 500?

"No, not at all. It won't affect the 500. I'm going to be able to race in the 24 Hours of Daytona coming up here real soon and so it's just something that kind of slowed me down over the off-season. I had a cast on my hand and it kind of kept me on the sidelines watching my wife swim and being on vacation and watching my friends do all these fun things and I had to sit around and watch. But, beyond that, everything is good."

HAS WINNING THE CHAMPIONSHIP SUNK IN YET?

"It has. I spent a lot of time reflecting over the off-season. I'm just so proud of what this team has done and how we've grown and matured as an organization; and the relationship with Chad and me and how it's grown. We've had tough times and great times, but through it all, we're still close friends and we've built an amazing race team together. We accomplished a lot last year with the 500 and the Brickyard and the championship. The best motivation we have though after winning the championship is experiencing what we did in New York and being honored as the champions. We want to do it again and we're just as hungry as we've ever been to come back and try to do it again."

BACK TO THE GOLF CART ACCIDENT, WHICH IN HINDSIGHT WAS PROBABLY A BONE-HEADED THING TO DO, DID IT PROVE THAT YOU'RE JUST A REGULAR GUY?

"I work hard and I focus on my job and give it everything I've got. But on the flip side of that is that I like to play hard. Unfortunately I broke my wrist in the process. I'm a normal guy and like to go out and have fun and do my thing and I broke my wrist in the process unfortunately."

WOULD YOU CLIMB ON TOP OF GOLF CARTS AGAIN?

"No, I think I'm going to stick to just driving the golf carts. That way I'll have something to hang on to and I won't get ejected."

HOW'S YOUR PAIN THRESHOLD? WOULD YOU TELL US IF IT HURT OR WOULD YOU TRY TO NOT SHOW IT?

"Well, it's been almost five weeks. So it's been a long time. The cast is off. I was at the doctor's on Friday and the x-rays look good so everything is in great shape and I'm ready to go."

DOES YOUR CONTRACT AT HMS SAY YOU CAN'T RIDE ON THE TOP OF GOLF CARTS?

"I haven't talked with Mr. H on that one (laughs). The best thing with Rick, and I think with our sport in general, is that in order to drive race cars you've got to learn skills in other ways. And we all like to have fun and do crazy things and that's just an example of it. So, now if it would have affected the season, I think that Rick and Lowe's and everybody would have a different opinion. But it's really been lighthearted. Rick has called me and has done nothing but harass me as Rick Hendrick does, so it's really been a funny experience."

WHY DID YOU CLIMB UP ON TOP OF THE CART?

"It was just one of those bad decisions I've made in my life to get up on top of it."

HOW MUCH OF THIS TEST SESSION IS TO TEST THE CAR AND HOW MUCH IS IT TO TEST YOUR WRIST?

"None. My wrist is running it's course. We're down here just doing single car testing - three laps at a time basically. I'm just trying to focus on the car. My hand is working. I'm fine. I'll put a splint on it to drive the car just to be smart and to be safe with it. But beyond that, I'm scheduled to run the 24 Hours of Daytona and then the Vegas test and I'm right back in the middle of things."

ON SPOTTER, EARL BARBAN, LEAVING THE TEAM:

"Earl's leaving was kind of a shock, but at the same time you've got to understand how many years he's been in the sport and the fact that he really wanted to be on the road and we simply didn't have that position open for another mechanic on the road. So it's a huge loss for me. I've trusted him so much in the course of a year. He did an amazing job for me so he's going to be missed. I'm not sure we've signed anyone yet, but we're still looking - trying to find the right guy who can come in and give me what I need and can also add something in the shop."

HOW HARD IS THAT TO FIND THE RIGHT PERSON? WHAT DO YOU NEED?

"It's tough. We have to operate under a head count and under certain restrictions that Hendrick Motorsports has for budgeting reasons and to try to fit someone in is really the hard part because what we really need him for is spotting. But they are all usually good mechanics or fabricators or whatever it may be. And our shop is full. We're at maximum head count. And it's hard to find someone to work in that position."

ON THE DEATH OF BOBBY HAMILTON:

"I saw that yesterday and was completely shocked and truly saddened by it all. I know Bobby Jr. more than Bobby and I remember seeing Bobby at Martinsville after the Cup practice was over. I was going through the tunnel and he was coming up the other side and I stopped and shook his hand and said hello. He said he felt amazing and he looked great. So I wasn't aware of his condition and to hear that news yesterday was really sad. And BP. Our thoughts and prayers are with BP and hope that we can get him out of the hospital soon and get him on the right track."

-credit: gm racing

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Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Teams Hendrick Motorsports