Johnson talks to Charlotte media about excitement at Hendrick Motorsports

Team Chevy Racing

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S PATRIOTIC CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Charlotte Motor Speedway and discussed his recent success, the excitement at Hendrick Motorsports following last week’s win and other topics.

Jimmie Johnson, Hendricks Motorsports Chevrolet
Jimmie Johnson, Hendricks Motorsports Chevrolet

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

TALK ABOUT THE MOMENTUM YOU HAVE GOING RIGHT NOW AND RACING AT CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY WHERE YOU HAVE HAD SO MUCH SUCCESS: “We are really pleased with where our cars are right now. I have been sitting up here telling all of you that we are close and it is coming and look at the laps led and all that stuff. I’m glad to be able to back up what I have been talking about over these last few months. It really just boils down to the hard work that has come through the engine shop, chassis shop, our engineering staff and the crew chiefs. We have a better product this year. We have been able to be close to victory lane a few times so far this year and then we got it done the last two weeks. Obviously, winning during the All-Star race is very helpful it’s a great starting point to come back with. We are excited to get on the track today and through the course of the weekend. We feel like we will be a threat for the win.”

IS YOUR RECENT SUCCESS REALLY AS SIMPLE AS HAVING THE CARS RIGHT? “Yeah, at the end of the day the car is such a big part of it but the process and how you get there is the tough part. Without data on a regular basis it really boils down to the sensation the driver feels how he communicates to his crew chief and engineers and what adjustments they do from there. It’s tough because at times, certain drivers are very specific about what needs to be changed. Other guys are more open minded and just talk about the sensations and let the crew chief adjust. Either way someone has to make a decision and it’s easy to take the team down the wrong road. Other times you go down the right road and things work and you find a little sweet spot and you can knock off some wins. That is where we are. We have had a very solid product over the last couple of weeks. We have been able to communicate exactly how we need to and make the car the fastest car on the track. You still have to execute pit stops and strategy and drive the car and all that. The process through practice, qualifying and even the first half of the race or two-thirds of the race it’s all very critical to set-up for the win. It really boils down to communication to get the car right.”

IS THERE A BIG DIFFERENCE NOW IN THE ATTITUDE AROUND THE SHOP BECAUSE OF THE SUCCESS? HAS THAT PROPELLED THE TEAM TO WORK EVEN HARDER? “The No. 48 and No. 88 shop there is a lot of excitement. (Dale Earnhardt) Junior won a couple of times the other night. The wins we have had, there is excitement in the No. 5 and No. 24 shop, but those guys have had some terrible luck. As a group we are just hopeful that luck will leave them alone, they will be able to finish where they deserve and where they have been running in these races. But, the company is still on a high from the 200th win, the All-Star win just kicked that up another notch. I’d expect all four cars to be real strong.”

HOW SIGNIFICANT WAS THE FACT THAT YOU GUYS WERE ABLE TO WIN THAT APPEAL FOR THAT EARLY PENALTY? WAS IT JUST BUSINESS AS USUAL LEADING UP TO THAT POINT? IT SEEMS LIKE YOU GUYS NEVER REALLY MISSED A BEAT, BUT HAD YOU NOT WON THAT APPEAL YOU WOULD HAVE HAD A LOT MORE TO OVERCOME. HOW MUCH DID THAT PLAY IN TO WHERE YOU ARE SITTING RIGHT NOW? “To be honest with you I kind of forgot about it. Without a doubt it would have impacted the team. We have a lot of depth in our organization and I feel like we would still be going down the right road and advancing our cars. It’s really tough to say if it would have led to the last two weeks or not. No doubt losing your crew chief and in that situation the car chief those are very important positions in the race team and it would have had an impact.”

DANICA PATRICK IS IN SOME WAYS BECOMING THE FACE OF NASCAR, I’M WONDERING IF OTHER DRIVERS ARE OKAY WITH THAT: “No I haven’t noticed. In watching the television broadcast they obviously pay a lot of attention to where she is on the track. What I have learned through the years in the sport is those cameras focus where everybody wants to see, where the majority wants to see, where the eyeballs are paying attention and focused. There is a reason for it. I don’t have any feeling one way or the other. I mean it’s all marketing it is all part of our sport. I’m glad she’s here in NASCAR with us. I think she brings a huge fan base and hopefully a new fan base for our sport. Marketing is marketing; you have to do what you have to do.”

HOW MUCH CAN YOU TAKE FROM THE ALL-STAR RACE AND APPLY TO THE 600? “You can take a lot. You run a good practice session at a very similar time during the day. We made a qualifying runs, granted we had a pit stop and an extra lap but everybody pays close attention to that first lap out. Our qualifying set-up for this weekend is built off of that. Then the race going into night trying to pay attention to the track and where it is going from our stand point the way we finished the race was pretty fast, we would be foolish to start any different. For us it is kind of predictable why and what we would do. We have been here other times where we have been off and maybe used the All-Star as a testing ground and then come back here with new ideas or old proven equipment or hey the new stuff worked let’s try it. Last weekend is very important. It’s not often that we get to go test and the All-Star in a sense is a test bed for a lot of reasons for a lot of teams.”

WITH THE 200TH WIN, YOUR ALL-STAR WIN LAST WEEKEND, THE WIN IN THE SHOWDOWN IS IT LIKE THE PRESSURE HAS ROLLED OFF OF MR. HENDRICK NOW OR DO YOU STILL FEEL THAT INTENSITY TO GET ALL FOUR OF YOU IN THE CHASE? “No his intensity is there. I’m really proud of him to sit and enjoy the 200th win and savor it and spend some time in the moment. It’s not like him to do that type of thing. As a company we are all so proud to be there on Tuesday night that we had Brad Paisley playing. Rick (Hendrick) had a great time on stage. Just a cool, cool night, this week we are back to business and that high will linger. But, Rick is Rick and he will be focused on winning more races and trying to win a championship. His first goal is to get all four cars in the Chase and then go for the championship. I’m sure we will be reminded of that here before long.”

IS IT FAIR TO SAY THAT IF YOU COULD HAVE TURNED IT AROUND IN TIME YOU WOULD HAVE USED THE ALL-STAR CAR THIS WEEK? WHAT IS IT THAT MAKES IT ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE TO DUPLICATE A CAR FROM ONE WEEK TO THE NEXT WHEN YOU ARE TRYING TO BUILD THEM? WHAT IS IT SPECIFICALLY THAT GIVES EACH CAR ITS DIFFERENT CHARACTER? WHY IS ONE A BULLET AND ONE A DUMP TRUCK WHEN YOU ARE TRYING TO BUILD THEM EXACTLY THE SAME WAY? “We talked about trying to bring the car back when we selected our cars we felt like the car for the 600 was better and it’s more important being a point’s race. It’s not like we have bad cars but the way we measure things in the wind tunnel and other variables was to have the best car for the 600 and took the other car to the All-Star race. You will spend some time your first run maybe even second run trying to get your ride heights set just right, the packer gaps right so that the splitter drags and doesn’t drag and that kind of thing. Bringing a car back that you raced you know right where those heights are and you can save a step or two. That is kind of a nice thing. It’s hard to not bring back a car you just won with. With the short time frame and checking in today and getting the car back on Tuesday afternoon it just wasn’t possible. As far as cars go they are all hand built and people take for granted the heat that goes into the chassis itself through welding. There are some cars, I think what is largely part of it is, you put all the pick-up points at the exact same spot but what goes on through the chassis and tubes being moved around the slightest of measurements changes the stiffness of the chassis. The heat pulling and twisting tubes it puts tension in those tubes and just creates different strains through the center section of the car and out through the front and rear clip. It is just tough to get them exactly the same. As hard as you try there is still always some cars that respond better, work better, easier to even set-up on the scale pads. They just respond to adjustments easier. We will find those even through the seat of the car and hang on to those cars for a long time.”

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags all-star, chevrolet, hendrick, johnson