JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and discussed entering the Chase, racing at New Hampshire, importance of starting the Chase with a good run at NHMS and other topics. ARE YOU...
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and discussed entering the Chase, racing at New Hampshire, importance of starting the Chase with a good run at NHMS and other topics.
ARE YOU READY TO GET GOING THIS WEEKEND? "Definitely ready to get going. You know its ten races of intense competition and I feel it's a very interesting Chase with a lot of great storylines and I think that we are ready, and ready to get going."
ON WHETHER OR NOT YOUR TEAM SEEMS TO BE A LITTLE LESS ON STRIDE AS NORMAL GOING INTO RECENT CHASES AND IF YOUR FRAME OF MIND IS A LITTLE BIT DIFFERENT: "Definitely it's a little bit different. Coming off of two victories going into the Chase in the past and there is no way to get around the fact that there is a lot of momentum and confidence that comes with that. We did have a little bit of a schedule change this year where Atlanta was in and now its California and I am hopeful that its helpful for us to have a track in the Chase that we are able to win at.........being California.
"But when I look back at Michigan and Bristol, we were all out going for wins. At Michigan we ran out of gas and at Bristol we had nothing to lose and had one of our best performances at that track and had that lug nut fall behind the new wheel that went on and caused the problem. So from there it was like, alright, Atlanta is not our best track and let's be smart, let's get a good finish but we had a difficult night and we couldn't adjust the car like we wanted to.
"Then at Richmond we thought that would be a really good night for us and it still turned out to be a decent finish, but a night where we were slipping after each pit stop and would lose a little more ground, and a little more ground. So that was a little frustrating and led to my emotions after the race, but going into the Chase as the Champion and dealing with different experiences in the past, I have to block out all of it. Even if we were on a run of good finishes it doesn't guarantee that you are going to get off to a good start and you really have to look at each day and focus on that day and do what you can. And past experience doesn't mean anything at that point. I mean it might help your note book and makes you feel good when you walk in the gates and before you get in the car, but when you are on the track you've got to get the job done. So I am really trying to forget the last two races because they weren't really like we had hoped they would be and we just need to focus on what we need to do here at Loudon and really look at how we ran here in the spring as kind of a starting point for the set ups and the areas I need to work inside the car."
IS CHAD ANY DIFFERENT AT ALL THAN HE HAS BEEN BEFORE GOING INTO THE CHASE? "You know, I think that we have done a better job of communicating. I think the highs and lows have been closer together and we have been more consistent in that respect. So......I've said it before, but I feel that we are stronger than we have been before going into the Chase. I've just seen a lot of great things and I know the last few races haven't gone our way and might not show that, but I am really looking forward to these final ten and showing what I have been talking about. I think we have showed it at some other races, we've just had some bad luck and ran out of gas and had some other issues."
ABOUT YOUR MINDSET AFTER HAVING A GOOD OR BAD RACE AT NEW HAMPSHIRE IN THE CHASE "You try to have the same mindset, but there is no way around it. When we left here in 39th you are just devastated. You think your chances are gone and you feel that you don't have the control that you need to go and outrun people. You know, there are 11 other guys that are running well and here you are spotting them a hundred plus points so you feel helpless in a lot of ways. And I hope to leave here with the other feelings. The feelings of being in control with a nice solid finish and hopefully a win and being in control in every respect.
"So, people are going to have trouble and you never know what that trouble is going to add up to like if its DNFs or fifteenth place finishes, but you hate coming out of the gate being that far behind. And you feel like everything is out of your control at that point."
DOES A MENTAL SWITCH FLIP ON FOR YOU GUYS WHEN THE CHASE BEGINS? YOU GUYS HAVE DOMINATED THIS PART OF THE YEAR RECENTLY? "You know it's not so much a switch or some type of feeling that changes..........I think we get into a good stretch of race tracks. And here has been a good race track for us so I am coming in here optimistic and think we have got a shot at winning, but I think we have a real good chance of running in the top five.
"Then when we go to Martinsville I have a totally different mindset. I walk in those gates and feeling like I am 300 pounds and can't get anything done. So it really just depends on the track from one standpoint, and then as the weekend develops........the better the car runs..........the further your chest comes out. You start running bad and you start hunching over, so it really depends on how the car is running and what is going on at that point."
ON WHETHER THE CHASE IS EMBRACED NOW BY DRIVERS AND IS IT WITHOUT FLAWS: "I think in the big picture we are close. We can always look at some small adjustments that can be made and it's funny how when the Chase get here and the questions start coming up and the criticism comes out.
"In general, I think the Chase has done a lot for our sport and it has made our sport interesting at the end of the season and it has spread a lot of focus and attention to teams in this sport that wouldn't really have had that attention.
"So I see articles and I hear comments of people saying that they are stepchildren and if you are not in the Chase you are a second-class citizen and all that stuff. I think there is more love spread and that people are more conscious of that plus the top-12 are getting attention. It would be a three man show, and really right now a one man show with a two hundred and fifty point lead or whatever Tony had over Jeff. So I think in the big picture, it's done a lot for our sport and we can look at some things to tweak it and maybe celebrate the regular season champion a little more and put a bigger gap between one through five and finishing orders and things like that but in general we are on the right track."
THOUGHTS ON THE FIRST CHASE "Truthfully it took me at least two seasons to embrace the Chase. I just didn't like it. I liked the old point system and oddly enough I have won my championships with the Chase a system that took me a long time to buy into.
"So it's just one of those things. I still think winning the championship with the old rules was much tougher and you talk to Jeff (Gordon) and he says the opposite. So it's just a matter of opinions so I think the way that the champion has to earn it..........its representative of the season. You have to be consistent and I know it sounds like just ten short races but it's a long stretch, tough tracks, long race events.......and for a ten-race stretch it's long and a few months worth of work."
ABOUT THE CONTRACT EXTENSION OF MARK MARTIN THROUGH 2011 AND THOUGHTS ON THE STABILITY OF THAT CAR: "I'm excited for Mark and I think that the more stable all four teams are and especially consistent with drivers, crew chiefs, and engineers you just keep building on good notes and build on good cars so I am just excited to have Mark back. He has done an amazing job as we have all seen and I think as he gets more comfortable with the system and we all understand each other more he will be an even greater asset to Hendrick Motorsports."
ABOUT THE PIE FIGHT AND DID YOU GET ANYONE WITH A PIE YOU CAN'T WRECK ON THE TRACK? "No, we were told that we were put into a safe area and that we were kind of in a corner where nobody could get to us with the pies and that was where Regis and Kelly were going to be because they couldn't get hit or didn't want to be hit. And as we realized the little corner was circled with the pies and we were surrounded by fans on all three corners and had nowhere to go. So we realized we had to fight back immediately. And all the drivers made a pact that we weren't going to hit each other because we were way too close and no one wanted to mess up their suits and clothes and it was early in the day with a lot to do.
"So we all looked out and tried to focus on other things and I found a woman who was wearing a No. 48 jersey and had the clear plastic on over the top and she was staring me down and had a pie and was ready. And I was like 'what, you are really going to hit me?' and she was like 'oh yeah' and I said you are wearing my jersey. And she said, 'I'm going to go home and tell my family that I hit you with a pie' and I am like, 'okay'.
Then somebody blew a fake whistle I think before we came back from commercial break and I guarantee you she was the first one throwing a pie and that thing was coming in hot, so we just sat there blasting each other with pies for a while and then turned out into the crowd for a while and it was amazing because you could see heads everywhere and I just lobbed this pie in the air and that thing was pretty heavy in a tin pan and you would see it hit somebody in the head and try ripping their head off their shoulders. It was amazing how much was flying around and we had a lot of fun with it."
-credit: gm racing