Q&A's WITH JIMMIE JOHNSON: YOU'VE HAD A GOOD COUPLE OF WEEKENDS AND YOU'RE GOING TO ATLANTA WHERE YOU'VE HAD SOME SUCCESS. ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO IT? "Yeah, definitely. It's been a busy couple of weeks. I'm still out in Las Vegas for a ...
Q&A's WITH JIMMIE JOHNSON:
YOU'VE HAD A GOOD COUPLE OF WEEKENDS AND YOU'RE GOING TO ATLANTA WHERE YOU'VE HAD SOME SUCCESS. ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO IT?
"Yeah, definitely. It's been a busy couple of weeks. I'm still out in Las Vegas for a Lowe's appearance tonight with their store managers. And then going into Atlanta, we have a busy day on Thursday with some (Jimmie Johnson) Foundation stuff. So all in all, I'm excited about how the last two weeks have gone, but there is still a lot of work going on and I'm looking forward to getting on that race track and going for a third (consecutive win)."
YOU QUALIFIED IN THE 20TH SPOT LAST WEEKEND AND THEN MOVED YOUR WAY UP TO WIN THE RACE. CAN YOU TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THAT AND THEN QUALIFYING THIS WEEK?
"Yeah, qualifying is so important but if you qualify bad enough it's almost helpful. I mean we did qualify bad enough to where we had a good pit stall pick. So like if you're going to be 10th, you'd rather be 20th or 30th at that point. I know it kills you on track position but the races are long enough that you can work your way up through there. So our biggest concern was the pit road pick and luckily we got a good one and were able to take advantage of it during the race."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT RICK HENDRICK'S COMMENTS ABOUT YOU BEING LIKE A COMPUTER WHEN YOU ARE DRIVING THE RACE CAR?:
"It was a heck of a compliment, I remember him saying that. I've worked really hard to drive laps that I can repeat and to understand what I feel underneath me in a race car. It's cool to be at this level and be able to do things that I've always wanted to do in a race car. It's just taken a lot of years and experience to get here, the right teams, right people around me and stuff. I hope I can keep it up."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT QUALIFYING UNDER THE LIGHTS AT ATLANTA AND DO YOU HAVE A PREFERENCE OF QUALIFYING DURING THE DAY?:
"It doesn't really matter to me when we qualify. I think Atlanta is such a fast track that when you strap in for qualifying I think you have to pull them tight and know that you have to step up and get it done, but then when you have the night factor I think you take another 20 percent with you and just drive the car sometimes way over your head and way over what you think you can do because the grip level is so high and hope that it's fast enough to lead you to the pole. I don't really have a preference, but it does usually add a little more grip and makes you attack harder with the night qualifying session."
IS GETTING A GOOD PIT STALL AT ATLANTA MORE OF AN ADVANTAGE THAN OTHER TRACKS?:
"It works the same really. Pit road is so important and the part of pit road that is important is who you're pitted around. Last weekend we qualified poorly and we were able to have or made a selection where the 00 (David Reutimann) was behind us and the 38 (David Gilliland) was in front of us. Once we got ahead of the 00, life was good because we had a clear pit in and then the 38 went down a lap early and that gave us the clear pit out very early in the race. If you can find those scenarios at any race track, that's what you're aiming for and hoping for."
WHAT DO YOU WANT YOUR CAR TO DRIVE LIKE AT ATLANTA?:
"It really reminds me of Darlington where you just have to be very conscious of what end of the race car is taking the abuse or what tire is slipping and sliding too much. Every time you slide that tire, you're just taking speed out of the car and especially off the tail end of the run. You're just trying to be very aware of what tires work and looking for ways to get around that, the balance and the load between all four tires. When you're able to do that, your car typically drives very comfortable and you're going to need that for 500 miles at Atlanta. It just kind of comes down to that -- making sure you feel all four tires being worked equally."
HOW ROUGH IS ATLANTA MOTOR SPEEDWAY?:
"It's rough and we all love it being rough. I know we've been through it over the years where originally people were a little nervous that we were picking apart the race tracks, but it's so rough and abrasive, it makes it one of if not the most challenging race on the circuit, especially on the long run. You're up near the wall and there's bumps and jumps and seams that you have to worry about crossing over -- it's a handful."
WHAT KIND OF RELATIONSHIP DO YOU HAVE WITH THE OTHER HENDRICK DRIVERS AND DO YOU FEEL LIKE THERE'S A WALL THERE NOW?:
"I wouldn't say there's a wall there by any means. Jeff (Gordon) and I, when I was coming along, we spent a lot of time hanging out. On the friendship level, there's a lot going on, he helped me meet my wife and there's just a lot of time hanging out at that point. Life has changed though, he has a wife and child and a second one on the way and I have my first on the way so I think our paths or our roads have been in different directions lately. The success on track, as a competitor, I know he doesn't like and it's not like its put some burden on our friendship and now we're not friends, but competition is a tough thing to deal with emotionally and people typically find ways to motivate themselves by being angry in competition. If they find a way to get mad at someone then it inspires them and pushes them hard to do their jobs. I do the same thing for other guys, whoever is on top and focusing on them. I understand the dynamic. My relationship with my other teammates is great, granted I don't spend a lot of time with Mark (Martin) away from the track or Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. for that matter. We all have a lot of respect for one another and have fun when we do."
DO YOU DO ANYTHING DANGEROUS OFF THE RACE TRACK?:
"I would like to do more, but with my ability to injure myself, I've decided to stay away from those things. Something I really miss and enjoy is motocross. It's what I grew up doing, I love to ride, but it's just a matter of time before you fall on a bike and when you fall you typically break something. From motocross, I would say that even mountain biking is in that same vein. I love to mountain bike, but I'm afraid to be out in the woods and clip a rock or a rut or a root or something and go down and break and collarbone. There are some things that I don't do from an adventure standpoint that I feel like I could hurt myself at."
DOES YOUR DECISION-MAKING PROCESS GET EASIER OVER TIME AS A DRIVER?:
"Yeah, I think it does. At least it has for me so far. I'm sure there will be different challenges later in my career and as time goes on. Today I understand my sport so much better. I know what I need to do. I've been with my sponsors and team and crew members for so long and we know each other so well that's its not easy at all, but have made better decisions just because its familiar stuff and I've been around it for so long."
WHAT MAKES DARLINGTON SO TOUGH?:
"I think at the end of the day it's the fact that track was built to run 80 miles an hour around or 100 miles and hour around. We're far above that. The track is very narrow and odd shaped so to run the speeds that we do, it's just a really awkward line and a really awkward track to race at. With all that in mind, it makes it tough and where the name comes from."
IS THE NAME, 'LADY IN BLACK', A NAME YOU HEAR FOR DARLINGTON A LOT TODAY OR MORE FROM YEARS PAST?:
"I guess it's both, it's the only way that I have known the track. It's so well used, that phrase, that's I guess it's a little of both."
HOW WOULD YOU EXPLAIN A DARLINGTON STRIPE TO SOMEONE WHO IS NEW TO THE SPORT?:
"I smile because we all will have one, it's just part of the race there. With it being so narrow, it was more common with the track when the surface was older on it. It's heading that way so hopefully it will turn into the old Darlington once again. The track is so narrow and there's so much slipping and sliding that sometimes you just run out of room and go up and kiss the wall and lean against it to get you pointed in the right direction and keep going on."
DO YOU DISCUSS WITH CHAD KNAUS HOW LONG HE WILL STAY IN THE SPORT AND DO YOU FEAR THE DAY THAT HE WILL MOVE ONTO SOMETHING ELSE?:
"Fearing that day, I know that day is out there. It's a tough world for crew chiefs and they really live in dog years in my opinion. I know there are no immediate plans and so with that in mind, I'm just not really focused on it to worry about it. Every time we're around and talking about stuff long term, he doesn't have a date in mind or an amount of time left in him and everything that we discuss is that we want to keep doing the same stuff that we've been doing for years to come."
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF GEOFF BODINE'S INVOLVEMENT WITH THE UNITED STATES BOBSLED TEAM?:
"It's been great to see the bobsled team and the success that they had. I know that there are some drivers that have been working with Geoff (Bodine), the fundraising for the Olympic team and the development of the bobsleds. I'm very proud of him and it's great to see the technology and smarts and all that come from our sport be applied to something that has been really cool like the Olympics."
-source: lowe's racing