JIMMIE JOHNSON IN THE ...
JIMMIE JOHNSON IN THE #48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET WAS THE RAYBESTOS ROOKIE OF THE RACE AT MARTINSVILLE. JOHNSON FINISHED SIXTH, HIS 20TH TOP-10 FINISH OF THE 2002 SEASON.
"To leave here and say that we had a shot at winning here is something that I never thought I would say. If it wasn't for the 44 (Steve Grissom) running all over the side of us under caution and knocking the rear end out of the car we'd be in a lot better position. It's a great effort for us, to come out of here sixth. I wanted to do doughnuts on the frontstretch. We really honestly had a shot at winning it. It definitely knocked the rear end out and the car was tighter through the center the rest of that run but no complaints. To come out of here sixth, highest finishing guy out of the whole championship battle, that's a good effort for the Lowe's team."
WHAT HAPPENED UNDER CAUTION?
"He just ran over the top of me. I was sitting there getting the one to go coming around to take the green flag and I don't know what the heck he was trying to do. I guess he was trying to get around some of the lap cars and climbed all over the side of us and knocked the rear end out of square on the car. We're lucky that the tire didn't go flat, too. It killed the car. I was super tight the rest of the run. I was lucky to be able to get by Ryan (Newman) and then we stretched those guys behind us. I really didn't think I was going to be able to catch the 32 or anybody else up there in front of us but luckily we did."
HOW WAS THE TRACK?
"The line for me seemed to move around and change throughout the day. At times the top was good for me, other times the bottom was. I thought the track was pretty racy and I didn't feel like I'd really get trapped behind anybody too long."
YOU HAD A GOOD POINTS DAY. DID YOU KNOW WHERE TONY STEWART FINISHED?
"After the race was over I wanted to know where he was at and how many points we made on him. We're doing all we can, finishing ahead of everybody else and hopefully we'll do that for the rest of the year."
JEFF GORDON HAD A TOUGH RACE TODAY.
"He was strong but he had some contact with the 99 (Jeff Burton) and it damaged his car."
RYAN NEWMAN, #12 ALLTEL FORD, FINISHED 15TH.
"I cooked the brakes. I was too aggressive at the start of the race and I feel like it was my fault that I cooked them. It's one of those things at Martinsville being a rookie I screwed up. Being out front I should have slowed down a little bit."
HOW MUCH OF YOUR PROBLEM CAN BE ATTRIBUTED TO THE AMOUNT OF TRAFFIC AT MARTINSVILLE?
"They were cooked way before I ever got to traffic. When Rusty (Wallace) and I were running there I cooked them and I knew I did. It was too late. You can't fix what you already broke."
CHAD KNAUS, CREW CHIEF, #48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET:
"We're happy with the finish. We definitely had a car that was capable of winning the race. We were catching the leaders very quickly. The guys came in and we had a really good pit stop and the 44 car just ran all over the Lowe's Chevrolet. It bent the rear end housing, bent the wheel and we were just kind of trying to hang on from that point on. We're pretty pleased with where we finished."
HOW DIFFICULT IS IT FOR A CREW CHIEF TO CALL A RACE HERE AT MARTINSVILLE?
"It's tough. If it ever got to a situation where you got into a long, long green flag run and you had to pit, it would be terrible. It's tough because you've got people that come in early and then when it's your turn to pit they stay out. It's a back and forth deal and you've got to hope that there at the end that you make the right call to come in and take your tires and get your fuel and you're up in the top-10 when it's time to go racing again for the last 100 laps or so."
DESPITE WHAT HAPPENED, WAS IT A LUCKY DAY FOR YOUR TEAM?
"We're definitely lucky because the biggest problem that I've seen in Winston Cup here this year is lap traffic. These guys, they get a lap down and they will race you harder when they are a lap down than they'll race before they get a lap down. It's insane. I don't understand it. I don't understand why NASCAR doesn't do anything about it. The thing is we've been down a lap down before and we've had to race for position as well but when it's getting close to the end, usually, you should try to give the lead lap cars a little bit of courtesy."
IS THERE ANY SOLUTION TO THE LAP TRAFFIC ISSUE?
"Pay the same amount of points for everybody that finishes 25th or worse. That would eliminate a lot of the problem. If they went to a system something like that it would make it a lot safer for the drivers to go out there and get into a wreck. It would make it a lot safer for the guys out there trying to get their lap back because they wouldn't be driving about their heads to do that stuff. They wouldn't be trying to make their laps up when they come to the caution. If they did something like that, just say 25th and back everybody gets the same amount of points, I think it would make it a lot easier."
DID YOU HAVE ANY PROBLEM WITH BRAKES?
"No, he did an awesome with brakes. He did a great job. He has become Jimmie Johnson the short track king. After winning Dover and having a shot to win Richmond and ran well in the fall Richmond race, ran well here in the spring but we broke a gear, and to come home sixth here today he has proven himself as a short track driver."
SELECTED JOHNSON POST RACE PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES
"We broke a gear in that first race and that's where the poor finish shows up. To finish sixth and honestly I felt like we had a shot at winning the race today. We worked our way up to third or fourth there at the end. Coming to the green flag, the 44 car I don't know what exactly happened, but somehow he ran into my left rear and tore the fender off the car and more than anything bent the truck arm and bent the suspension on the left rear and moved the rear end around. It just affected the handling after that. We were real lucky to finish sixth. It was a great day for us. I feel like we won the race. I was asking Chad if I could do doughnuts out there but he might be mad at me doing it after we finished sixth."
DID THE ASA CARS HELP PREPARE YOU FOR RACING AT MARTINSVILLE?
The ASA cars, I think, have hurt me on short tracks. They're so much lighter and do so much more than these big heavy cars plus we're on bias ply tires. If you look at the track where I run well, it's been the biggest mile, mile-and-a-half tracks."