Phoenix II: Johnson post qualifying interview

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS, QUALIFIED 3RD: TELL US ABOUT YOUR LAP: "A good lap. Going early was probably worth a little bit and affected us there. But a good lap. Especially the way things turned out. I expected the No. 5 and the...

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS, QUALIFIED 3RD:

TELL US ABOUT YOUR LAP:

"A good lap. Going early was probably worth a little bit and affected us there. But a good lap. Especially the way things turned out. I expected the No. 5 and the No. 24 to really lay down strong laps with their later draws. They still qualified well but we maintained third there. So, good pit stall pick. Hopefully we are far enough forward to avoid any early issues in the race if there are any. It felt really good to put down a really strong lap based on the week and thinking about Texas and what took place there and losing all the points. Very happy and looking forward to tomorrow."

FROM YOU EXPERIENCE DO YOU FIND THAT WHEN SOMETHING GOOD HAPPENS ON THE RACE TRACK, IT ERASES SOMETHING BAD THAT HAS HAPPENED?

"Yes, it does. We say it a lot and maybe we don't have enough...maybe there is too much time from race to race to comprehend what goes on with a driver and a crew chief but the medicine it to be back on the race track. Even from a bad qualifying effort on Friday roll in to Saturday and you are at the top of the board in Happy Hour, it is amazing how it will change your confidence and make you feel well. I've been all week long waiting to get in to the race car. Off the truck we were decent, top-three or four. Those emotions started to go away and started focusing on today. That good medicine of being in the race car kicked in."

YOU HAVE A HISTORY WITH RON HORNADAY AND MAYBE TONIGHT AT AGE 51, HE IS GOING TO DO SOMETHING SPECIAL, WHAT ARE YOUR IMPRESSIONS ON THAT?

"Just happy for him. I saw him earlier today and asked him if he was having fun. He looked at me with a crazy look and said 'I always have fun'. Well, that is true.

"His home as we all know, has been open to drivers, crew members, everyone alike. They've supported a lot of young people coming back to North Carolina. On top of the appeal he has because of being such a hard-nosed driver, he has a big heart, he and Lindy (Hornaday) both and I think everybody wants to see him pull it off and do something that hasn't been done before as well. So, just excited for him. Hopefully things go well.

"We all know that when he puts that helmet on, sometimes it cuts the circulation off to the brain. So he can be smart tonight and not have any issues. He has a big big lead and we'll see how it works out for him but I am really really proud of him.

"I know Harvick is too. It is cool to see Kevin be able to give back to Ron and all the history they have together racing on the West Coast. When I was on a couch, Harvick's bag was over on the couch next to the one I was staying on. We'd pass each other from race weekends and stuff like so to have that opportunity to give back to Ron is pretty special for him too."

WHAT DO YOU DO TO KEEP THE GUYS ON YOUR TEAM UPBEAT? IS THERE SOMETHING SPECIAL YOU HAVE DONE FOR YOUR CREW RECENTLY?

"In general, I think that the fact that I am friends with my crew members makes a big different. I don't feel like when something goes wrong, I need to act a certain way. Or be something different to raise their spirits. There are times when naturally I have been in better frame of mind and tried to pick them up and there are other times they have had to pick me up. So, in general I think the relationship that I have with each of those guys and the friendship really goes a long way. We try to get together and do things. It is hard during the season to find the time to do it, but just two weeks ago maybe, we got together and had a barbeque for all the guys. We had burgers. We played, I called chuckers some people call it cornhole, that name kind of doesn't sound right to me. We played it, we had a tournament and the guys, we had a big time with their wives and all the guys playing. Just try to get together and spend time relaxing."

BACK TO HORNADAY, TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU THINK HIS LEGACY IN THE SPORT WILL BE?

"I think if you look at just the Truck Series alone, he'll go down in history as probably the best, the greatest ever. When you look at what he has done in the sport in general, from Winston West racing and the late models on the West Coast all the way through Truck, Cup and Nationwide, he has done it all and very competitive in all of those series. I think his legacy is going to be better defined as time goes on, but he's going to be known for more than just what he has done in the Truck Series. I see guys today that talk about late models that he built for them. Even Harvick is now going through it as well in providing all these trucks for everybody. There are so many people that you affect and touch and work with over time, that I think Ron...Ron will be known as the greatest ever. I guess I am kind of getting lost in my thoughts. But I think the best ever in a truck, but he has done so much more. I think people that are close to him respect him more for the man he is than just what he has accomplished in a car."

ARE YOU INHERENTLY CALM AND DON'T GET WORKED UP ABOUT THINGS? HAS THAT CHANGED THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER?

"I think that through experience, I have become better at dealing with it all. I guess that the things I say...I don't know how to explain it. I really share my feelings with you guys (the media) week in and week out. It might sound generic and plain, but it is so easy to get caught up in over thinking things. The big points lead we had, it is easy to say there is a lot of racing left and anything can happen because truthfully it could.

"The situation we are in now, I could say something and it seems generic and PC but it is the truth. I just don't want to live by the peaks and the valleys. I do better in that middle ground. I don't want to have everything...have the ultimate high and think we have things under control and fall on our face or be real low and down and out and create issues because we are bummed out. So, I try to live in that middle ground I guess is what it really boils down to.

"I speak that stuff and I am trying to believe it and say it and speak it and live it and do it and that is kind of where it comes out.

"It is more my nature definitely."

-credit: gm racing

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Series NASCAR Sprint Cup