Kansas: Johnson - GM Top-10 interview

BEHIND THE HAULER CHAT WITH JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S MONTE CARLO SS: RACERS KNOW EVERY WEEK WHO THEY ARE RACING AROUND. IN THE CHASE, ARE YOU MORE AWARE OF WHOM YOU ARE RACING AROUND? "Not at this stage. Every car on the track is a set of...

BEHIND THE HAULER CHAT WITH JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S MONTE CARLO SS:

RACERS KNOW EVERY WEEK WHO THEY ARE RACING AROUND. IN THE CHASE, ARE YOU MORE AWARE OF WHOM YOU ARE RACING AROUND? "Not at this stage. Every car on the track is a set of points that I look at. As the year wears on, I think the non-Chase guys give the Chase guys a lot more room. You can see that respect out there developing as the championship wears on. But right now, everybody's got to go out and win races. And I don't see it any different than the first 26 right now."

IS IT NOT SO MUCH ABOUT WANTING THE WIN AS IT IS ABOUT GETTING THE POINTS? "Yeah, you've got guys who want to be 11th that are fighting for that. For the top 25, there's a lot of money at stake. You can't ask anybody to lay down and roll over and get out of the way. Everybody is out there to race and to do the best job they can."

COULD YOU TALK ABOUT HOW JEFF GORDON HAS COME ON RECENTLY? "He's built up a lot of momentum during the second half of the year. I'm happy for him and the team because they've been working really hard to get things right for Jeff so I'm really happy for him. They're doing an awesome job."

ON TERRY LABONTE SOON TO RETIRE "I came in so late. My grandfather was a Terry Labonte fan. It's an honor for me to be there and be a part of the team. It's crazy to think he's not going to be in the sport much longer, but I know he's done a lot for Rick (Hendrick). If you look at what Rick has done to keep Terry active and to keep Terry in a race car with a limited schedule, I think it's a lot about the relationship that Rick and Terry have together. I don't see Mark Martin getting a limited schedule. I don't see other drivers that step out (like) Rusty Wallace.they haven't had that relationship with the owner. I think Terry and Rick have had a very strong relationship."

IT DOESN'T SEEM THAT TERRY LABONTE HAS EVER LOST HIS TEMPER. IS THAT A LOST TRAIT? "Knowing him as a teammate, he definitely gets fired up, but I think he has a very good idea of when to be mad and when not to.

Terry will always get back and defend his territory and do what he needs to. The guy does a great job of taking care of it the right way."

WHO HAS THE BEST MOMENTUM IN THE CHASE RIGHT NOW? "I don't see momentum yet. I see consistency from the No. 17 (Kenseth) and the No. 24 (Gordon) and the No. 31 (Burton). But I don't think anyone is really on fire yet."

HAVE YOU HEARD ANYTHING FROM TESTING TO INDICATE THAT THE HENDRICK TEAM MIGHT NOT STILL HAVE THE HOT DEAL WITH RESTRICTOR PLATE CARS FOR NEXT WEEK? "I'm not sure we've been testing."

DIDN'T BRIAN VICKERS GO THERE TO TEST? "Yeah, he did something. But I don't remember what that was for though. And it's so tough to know when you go to a single car test. Maybe he did a tire test there of something, I'm not really sure. But until you get at least a minimum of 20 cars out there, it's hard to know what's really going on in the draft. Our guys have been working hard. We've had a nice advantage. It' won't last forever, but I still think we'll be in great shape."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Terry Labonte , Rusty Wallace , Mark Martin