JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO Comments regarding Happy Hour cancellation due to rain: "Obviously there is some weather and we've got an ARCA race to get in. But I would like to see us stick around and get some practice...
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO
Comments regarding Happy Hour cancellation due to rain: "Obviously there is some weather and we've got an ARCA race to get in. But I would like to see us stick around and get some practice after the ARCA race. We didn't race here that long ago, but there have been some rule changes since then and I think the majority of the garage area would like to get some practice. But it's raining and if their decision sticks, we'll just line-up tomorrow and race without any practice It's the same for everyone and we won the race here last time. So I don't think our notes here are that bad. We have something to fall back on."
(MENTALLY, HOW DO YOU ENTER A RACE WITHOUT PRACTICE?) "From my standpoint, I guess it doesn't make that big of a difference. In all the mental stuff that I have to look at, we have the same car. We've got great notes to fall back on but you do have to blend your notes from the spring race to the fall race last time because that track does change a bit and your set-up is a little bit different. From my standpoint, overnight we usually end up changing a lot of stuff most of the time anyway. So it's really not that big of a mental deal. I won't approach the race much differently tomorrow because I'm used to a lot of changes taking place on the race car overnight."
(HOW GOOD DO YOU THINK YOUR RACE CAR IS AT THIS POINT?) "We should be in good shape. Yesterday, we struggled a little bit more than we did in the spring in qualifying. We ended up 13th, which isn't a bad effort. But we mirrored some of the same characteristics we had six weeks ago. I think we've got a similar car. It wasn't that good on the short runs. It was loose. On the long haul it was a very good race car. I think yesterday reflected some of that. I hope we have the same performance come Sunday."
(CAN YOU SIZE UP THE FIELD? WHO IS GOING TO BE GOOD ON SUNDAY?) "Not really. I think the Ganassi cars have improved their program. But I would go off of the performance from earlier this year and bring those cars up into the mix. Those guys put in a pretty solid day yesterday and I think they've got some stuff figured out."
(ARE YOU GOING TO CONTINUE TO EXPERIMENT FROM NOW UNTIL THE FINAL 10 RACES?) "Yeah, we want to keep trying things. People have caught us from what we had earlier in the year. That's just the cycle of our sport where you have an advantage and you're able to use it for six to eight to 10 weeks, hopefully. And it's time to keep moving forward. If we sit still now and stay with the package that we have, I think when we get to the final 10 we'll be behind. We're always trying to improve our cars. I think Chad Knaus is one of the most creative guys out there and he's always looking to find something new. We're trying some stuff. We really didn't expect to struggle like we did at New Hampshire. We were a little bit different but we were surprised that we were that far off. So we're going to go back there and test and make sure we get things ironed out. But the strategy we've been able to play all year long in conserving our tests is going to work to our benefit where we can test at a lot of the final 10 tracks and get a good feel for things and hopefully have the fastest race car for the final 10."
(ARE YOU GOING TO TEST BEFORE THE FINAL 10 OR DURING THE FINAL 10?) "There are a lot coming up prior the final 10. We've been really conserving as a whole and our whole group knows that with 15 weeks go to, it's going to be a brutal grind. We've been conserving ourselves over the season so far. All of our families and friends and everybody at the shop know that they had better start getting a lot of sleep. With about 15 to go, the wick is going to be turned up another notch."
(IS THIS THE SAME CAR YOU HAD LAST TIME?) "It's the same car. But without having race practice, it's hard to know."
(ON THE POINTS CHANGE) "On an entertainment side, the new point system is great. On a competition side when you're a driver or team in the garage area, I don't think it's something a lot of the teams favor including myself. I think the champion is somebody who races all 36 weekends and proves over that long haul that they're the best team. We have 500-mile races. We race 36 times a year. I think our point system should reflect that. But for me to complain about it isn't going to do a lot of good.
"It's the same for everyone and it's time to get to work. But at the end, typically the point leader would be comfortable. But that is changing. That final 10 is going to be a whole different world."
(DO YOU SEE YOURSELF CHANGING ANYTHING FOR THE LAST 10 RACES?) "We're trying to find an advantage so that in the final 10 we've got the best car out there."
(DO YOU HAVE ONE PARTICULAR UTILITY-TYPE CAR THAT YOU CAN TEST AT A LOT OF TRACKS THAT ARE SIMILAR?) "In the past we have, but this year we've had a pretty good choice of intermediate cars to pick from. We have a short track car that we've always used. But we've got three or four intermediate cars that are awesome. They're all very similar in the wind tunnel and they've all performed really good. We have a solid based to pull from. We have our Charlotte car that we've always run there. We've got our Indy car and stuff. They're all really strong."
(JEFF GORDON CALLS BRISTOL A CRAPSHOOT. WOULD YOU SAY THE SAME ABOUT RICHMOND AND HOW DO YOU PROTECT YOURSELF FROM WHAT NASCAR WOULD RULE AS 'RACING INCIDENTS'?) "I think the groove is wide enough at Richmond that you can control your own destiny a little more than Bristol. Bristol is a crapshoot and I think I'd put Martinsville in there before Richmond. You're all fighting for the same line. It's easy to lean on people and you don't have a very wide groove to race in. I'd put Martinsville as number two and Richmond as number three."
(HAS THE RACING GOTTEN ROUGHER AT SHORT TRACKS BECAUSE OF THIS NEW POINT SYSTEM?) "I don't think so, yet. We'll see. The final 10 could be a whole new world. But so far, at least everything I've been involved with, its been good racing. We've seen some tempers flare but it's not necessarily been one driver who has been on a terror that's mad at the world and crashing everyone. It's been more isolated cases.
"When we get into the final 10, I think you'll see happenings coming into play like maybe a little rubbing. There'll be some different things going on."
(IN THE FINAL 10, WILL THIS BECOME A TEAM SPORT - LIKE FOR EXAMPLE HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS VS. DEI VS. RCR, ETC?) "I think you're going to see it separate more - especially with the NO. 24 and the No. 48 in the same shop at Hendrick. I think you're going to see more independence from the teams. I really feel we're one of the favorites going in and another one of the favorites is Jeff (Gordon). Knowing that, I think that maybe there will be some independence formed from that. It's hard to say and I don't think there can be a lot of independence in our shop because that's the way it's set up. That's the goal of it. I think our team is going to work more as a team than any other group out there. But it's going to change a lot of things. When you put that much money and prestige over a 10-race span, I think it's going to change the dynamics of a lot of team situations."
JEFF GORDON, NO.24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"This track does seem to be different when we come back here this time versus the first time. But we're all in the same boat. It's going to be kind of equal for everybody. We've got to brainstorm and put our head together and talk to our teammates and see where we're all at and make our best guess at what set-up we want to start the race with and hope it's close.
"This track takes two hours to dry is the problem. They've got an ARCA race to run so even then we wouldn't get much time in. I think we were all hoping to get some time in later this afternoon after the ARCA race, but if you look at the weather it doesn't look good for this afternoon."
(YOU WERE HERE NOT TOO LONG AGO, SO THAT MUST HELP) "And we were good. So I feel pretty confident. But they've changed the rules with the shock package so we can't run with the shocks we had here the last time and that changes things a little bit. We still feel pretty confident."
(HOW DO YOU ADJUST TO STARTING THE RACE?) "You maybe start the race a little more adjustable with spring rubbers and a shock package that you can make quick adjustments under pit stops. For us, we're probably just going to start the race a little bit tighter than maybe the way we started last time. You really don't know what you're going to have. You've just got to feel it out and hope that you've made all the right decisions based on all the information you have at your fingertips. The advantage is going to be for the team that guesses the right way. And if it rains overnight or in the morning, the conditions are going to change. The team that stays on top of the changing race track is going to be in the best shape."
(LOOKING AHEAD TO INDY NEXT WEEK, DOES IT STILL STAND OUT AS MUCH FOR YOU?) "Oh yeah, it still stands out for me. It's a place I love going to. I think all of us really do. The facilities are awesome. It's just that sense of nostalgia when you go there - especially for me growing up there and going to several Indy 500's before stock cars were there. It makes it more special for me."
TONY EURY SR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"I would have loved to have a little practice. We did a lot of adjusting on our car here a month ago and we got a decent finish out of it at the end, but it could have been a lot better. We're kind of disappointed we didn't get to practice. But you can't control the weather and they've got an ARCA race to run too. They did everything they could do to get us some practice, but we're just going to do the best we can and make a little guess at it and make the car adjustable."
(IS THAT EASY TO DO? WHAT'S THE PLAN?) "My plan is for him (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) to run all day and hopefully we've got a good enough car that he can stay in it. Definitely, the better the car runs and the easier it is to drive, the longer he's going to be able stay in it. Hopefully we'll make the right changes today and get the car adjustable so we can keep him in it all day."
JOHN ANDRETTI, ON STANDBY FOR DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"Unfortunately the weather is not very nice for the teams - it's not good for the fans or for Pocono - but if you're looking at your own personal little world it's really good for that team. Anytime Dale Jr. can get some additional rest outside the race car is obviously going to be good. I hope I don't have to get in the car - not because I don't want to drive it, but because I want Dale Jr. to be well enough to do it."
(SINCE YOU AND DALE JR. ARE NOT THE SAME SIZE, WHAT WILL YOU DO ABOUT ADJUSTING THE SEAT? DID YOU GO OVER TO THE SHOP DURING THE WEEK TO TAKE A LOOK AT IT?) "Yeah, we've got a booster seat made up for it. We'll be able to get up high enough to see over the steering wheel and reach the pedals. Everything should work out fine from that perspective. I'm pretty comfortable in that regard. I think we'll be okay. You do the best you can with the circumstances you're dealt. Dale Jr. is doing that right now. Hopefully he feels really strong.
"Obviously the most important thing for him is the last 10 races. You don't want to have any setbacks that would affect that because that's the race for the championship."
(WHAT ARE WE GOING TO SEE IN THE RACE ON SUNDAY?) "It's always a pretty good race. I love racing here. It's an interesting race track. I don't know. I think it's going to be a really good race. It always is. A green-white-checkered finish here would be unusual because it's such a long track and it's so wide. Going into Turn 1 at the start of this race, probably the worst place you can be is right in the middle of the field because the back is coming and the front is stopping. It's a great race track and I think it'll be a great race.
"I hope that everything goes good for Dale Jr. and that I'm just a spectator all weekend."