Jimmie Johnson Teleconference Transcript Tuesday, June 17, 2003 Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse Chevrolet discusses his 2003 season and outlook for the upcoming Dodge/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway in ...
Jimmie Johnson Teleconference Transcript
Tuesday, June 17, 2003
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse Chevrolet discusses his 2003 season and outlook for the upcoming Dodge/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.
Johnson currently sits in seventh place in the NASCAR Winston Cup points standings (422 points behind the leader) following his 16th-place finish in Sunday's Sirius Satellite Radio 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Johnson has ranked among the top-10 in the Winston Cup points standings for 48 consecutive races, dating back to the 2002 spring race in Atlanta. Johnson has competed in just one race at Infineon Raceway, scoring a 35th-place finish in his rookie season one year ago.
HOW DO YOU DO A BURN-OUT AND DO YOU PRACTICE FOR THAT?
"The only practice you get is when you win. Fortunately, I've won a few times to practice it. You've got to stop the car and drop the clutch and hold on the brake and the gas at the same time."
WHY DO YOU THINK YOU HAVEN'T HAD A SOPHOMORE SLUMP?
"I don't really know. We've been competitive and I think what people look at in a sophomore slump is that you're not competitive. We've been competitive, but we've had bad luck as well and we're not in the same points position as we were last year at this time. But we've been competitive and we've won races and we've won a pole. It's not a factor of speed, it just seems like we're having bad luck. I think that's kind of where that sophomore slump falls into play is when you're not as competitive in the second year, but luckily we have been."
WHAT CAN YOU SAY ABOUT CHAD KNAUS AND HIS TENDENCIES AS A CREW CHIEF THAT OTHER PEOPLE MIGHT NOT KNOW?
"He's probably one of the most intense guys in the garage area. So if they're watching him during a race - I don't really have a chance to hear it because he shows it more than he speaks it on the radio. But he's one of the most intense guys out there."
WHY DO DRIVERS SWERVE BACK AND FORTH BEFORE THE START OF THE RACE?) "You do it to try to get a little bit of heat in the tires when you come out on low tire pressures from a pit stop. But more than anything - especially if you're on older tires or tires you've already run a few laps on - they're so hot that they pick up all the little stones, dirt, debris, and rubber that is being laid on the race track. It picks it up and builds up on the tires. So you're actually running on dirt and rocks. When we're turning the car back and forth, we're actually scrubbing the tires. We're cleaning the tires up. That's what we do it for more than anything. I guess tracks with more tire wear or where dirt would be on the track and the tires would pick it up - like Phoenix or short tracks."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS AS YOU PREPARE FOR TWO ROAD COURSE RACES THIS SEASON?
"I'm anxious to come out and give it a try. I think we ran well at Infineon last year and hopefully we'll be able to come out and improve on where we were running. We were running 7th before we broke a gear. All in all, I'm excited to be there. We built a new road course car."
IS THERE ONE PARTICULAR ASPECT OF INFINEON RACEWAY THAT YOU FIND THE MOST DIFFICULT?
"The most difficult thing is the forward bite. There are a lot of sharp turns and a lot of accelerating from very low speeds. Turn 4, turn 7, turn 11 - I probably call them by different numbers than what other people call them. But are cars are so heavy with so much power; it really destroys the rear tires. That's the biggest challenge we fight at Infineon."
ARE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT THE POINTS AND WORRIED THAT YOU MIGHT LEAVE INFINEON RACEWAY LOWER IN THE STANDINGS?
"No, we're confident. Road courses are my weak spots. The reason I call them that is because I don't look at those and walk in through the gates and say, 'I have a shot to win today'. All the other tracks I do. Maybe Rockingham is one where I don't feel that. But at the road courses, I feel confident in saying we can come out of there with a top 10. Hopefully this year, we can raise that up to a top five. I'm excited to go to a road course because I know that with the mentality I have going into it, I'm going to take care of my equipment and be smart. I know some of these guys aren't real comfortable with road course racing. That's probably one of the things that Matt Kenseth dislikes the most. Maybe it's a place where he'll have troubles. Maybe it's a place where Tony Stewart is expecting to win and maybe he'll overdrive the car and cause a problem. It's a place where we can probably capitalize on other people's aggressiveness if we just go out there and be conservative and just get what we can and not be greedy."
HOW DIFFICULT IS THE 20-WEEK STRETCH WITHOUT A BREAK FOR YOU AND FOR YOUR CREW?
"The pit crew has different challenges than the driver does. They're traveling all over the United States and getting very little sleep and time at home. They're home Sundays and back at the shop working again on Monday. For me, traveling is part of it but there are just a lot of things to do. We have a special paint scheme coming out for Daytona with the Sponge Bob car. There are just a lot of media and scheduling demands. The travel is not so bad, but it's just a lot of work. You do a lot of work before you ever climb through the window of the race car."