JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - Finished 2nd ON TODAY'S RACE "As a whole, we had a very strong car. There were probably five or six cars that were very equal and it just depended on where you came out on pit road unless ...
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - Finished 2nd
ON TODAY'S RACE "As a whole, we had a very strong car. There were probably five or six cars that were very equal and it just depended on where you came out on pit road unless somebody made a mistake or got hung up in traffic. Fortunately we were one of those strong cars all day long and led a couple of times. I was leading there at the end and I'd been pretty tight. We freed the car up and put two tires on. So it took a little while for everything to come in and settle down, pressure-wise. Unfortunately by the time I started getting straight, Dale Jr. was in my mirror. I was trying to hold him off. We had a great car. We had a great race together and he got by. With those couple of restarts there at the end, my car had tightened up to where I could do something but Joe Nemechek was in between us one time. After that I could run with him but I didn't have anything for him so it didn't really matter.
"We had a great day and I wish we could have had another trophy. But in the big picture, it was a great day for us. I've been saying all along that it's going to boil down to who doesn't make mistakes. That's going to determine how we finish in the points. Last weekend, the No. 12 had some bad luck. This weekend it was the No. 29. Hopefully the No. 48 can stay consistent and keep knocking top fives and top tens these last few races and be in the top three in points.
IN THE SECOND HALF OF THIS SEASON IT'S BEEN THE SAME 7 OR 8 DRIVERS THAT HAVE DONE WELL. IS THAT AN INDICATION OF WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN NEXT YEAR? "I think so. There are a lot of young teams and a lot of guys growing together and coming into the lead group together as a team. I'm one of the oldest guys in my crew and I'm 28. We've started with a young group of guys and we've gotten our team into championship form. A lot of teams are fairly new and going through the same thing. The key is keeping your team together over the winter. These desperate team that are not used to being lower in points and having some troubles are going to offer up a lot of money to keep their teams together.
"We've already been dodging some bullets and having to spread some love through the team and the shop and keeping everybody in place. We've finally gotten our stuff polished up now and we're getting ready for a championship push for next year. I think it's the same for a lot of people. The competition is so tough, you'll probably see those same seven to 10 teams up front."
IF YOUR CAR HAD BEEN IN FRONT OF DALE JR'S, WOULD IT HAVE BEEN THE SAME SITUATION? "Really, I started up there on that restart. He was fourth and I was in the lead. I thought it was going to take him a lot longer to get through traffic. And make it through traffic quick and I knew I was going to have my hands full then. I had my chance, but I just wasn't able to get it done today."
GIVEN THE HIGH NUMBER OF CAUTION FLAGS TODAY, WAS THE DRIVING A LITTLE MORE AGGRESSIVE BECAUSE IT'S AT THE END OF THE SEASON? "I've noticed in this points race from second to sixth (place), there has been a lot of tough racing. The No. 24 (Jeff Gordon) and the No. 29 (Kevin Harvick) were bouncing off each other like we were in go-karts out there under a caution (laughs). In certain groups, the intensity has definitely been turned up. It seemed like we had a lot of engines fail today. That seems like it caused more cautions than anything."
ON RACING THROUGH TURN 2 WITH THE NEW TRACK MODIFICATIONS "At first, I thought it was going to eliminate a passing zone because it would be easier for everyone to get off the corner. That really didn't happen. You've got some more room and could run a little better inside of somebody up off the corner. But that still is a tough corner. It's tough to hit it right. The entry is really important. One lap I'd roll through there and be on the money and the next lap I'd be sideways. I don't think it really had much to do with the change. It ended up a good move and let's people run side by side through there."
WHY WAS TURN 3 SUCH A TROUBLE SPOT TODAY? "I'm not really sure. It's a tricky entry into Turn 3 - especially if you're frustrated running side by side for a few laps with somebody. You want to try to lean on someone but that's the wrong spot to do it."
ON THE POINTS RACE "It's obviously very tight. I don't know where Matt Kenseth ended up today or if there are any longshots factored in. It's a very tight points race. We're all sitting there nose to tail in line. It's going to boil down to finishing strong the rest of the year. I don't think anybody is going to outrace anybody for second in points. It's going to be not having any troubles and still collecting points and ending up strong in the points."