Talladega II: Pole winner interview

Pole winner interivew JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS -- Starts from Pole JIMMIE, TALK ABOUT STARTING UP FRONT JOHNSON: "Yeah, definitely. It'll give us a chance to try to get five points, which is nice. The safest place really is ...

Pole winner interivew

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS -- Starts from Pole

JIMMIE, TALK ABOUT STARTING UP FRONT

JOHNSON: "Yeah, definitely. It'll give us a chance to try to get five points, which is nice. The safest place really is leading. So it we're able to stay up front and ride around up there for a long time, to do it the whole race would be great. But there is so much here that is out of control with not only the crashing aspect that we've all been talking about, but the draft and how impatient guys are going to want to be to lead a lap. With all 12 Chase drivers there, especially with the No. 24 (Gordon) behind me and the No. 5 (Martin) next to me and so forth and so on, everybody's going to be trying hard at the beginning to get a lap led. So we'll just be smart and take it as it comes. Obviously it's a great pit stall pick down at the end of pit road in that first stall. So hopefully we can use all that to our advantage."

WHAT WAS GOING ON YESTERDAY WITH YOU AND MICHAEL WALTRIP ON THE RACE TRACK?

JOHNSON: "Was it a bad thing?"

NO, WERE YOU JUST DRAFTING TO SEE WHAT YOU HAD FOR SUNDAY?

JOHNSON: "Yeah, definitely, definitely. We were running along trying to figure out how to push people throughout the day from me pushing other cars and other cars pushing us. And I don't know if it was just the combination of his car and ours, but we got hooked up and started flying. So I certainly hope to find him in the race and I'm glad we found that out. I think we're all a little curious to see what NASCAR is going to do for the race and what these zones look like. That's the first time they'd parked the car in practice for push-drafting. We've seen aggressive drafting and bump-drafting and somebody would be penalized and they'd bring them to pit road and make them think about it. But that's the first time I've seen it from a pushing standpoint. And as the leader, and somebody is pushing you, there's not a lot you can do. I certainly wasn't going to let off and let him run over the back of me.

"So we'll have to see how that goes. But we were just trying to see what our cars could do, a lot like the other cars. And for whatever reason, our combination worked really well. I would say that the No. 9 (Kasey Kahne) and the No. 11 (Denny Hamlin), they're situation worked really, really well. It's just weird how certain situations come together and two cars can hook up and go."

WERE YOU SHOCKED THAT THEY BLACK-FLAGGED THAT CAR?

JOHNSON: "They told us before practice started that they were not going to allow that stuff. And when he got on my bumper and was pushing me, I'm like I don't know what I can do here to stop this (laughs), so I'll just hang on and run a fast lap. And they certainly black-flagged him after that."

ON THE SAME QUESTION ASKED OF MARK MARTIN EARLIER, DO YOU REMEMBER THE LAST TIME YOU AND MARK STARTED HERE ON THE FRONT ROW?

JOHNSON: "I remember thinking what the hell just happened? Initially I saw him coming at me and we made contact and with it being Mark, it's just impossible to that that would be intentional or that he had made a mistake like that. And then has he pushed us into the grass, and kept going on a line to hit the inside wall, it was real easy to know then that something went wrong. It was a tough time for us because I think we were coming to one to go and they still came around and took the green and we had damage. It certainly hurt us and kept us from being on the lead lap in that race.

"But I just couldn't believe it. And I think since then, myself and including Mark and some of the other guys, they're so tentative to really move the steering wheel a lot here and warm up the tires. We go so fast and turn the rpm. I think it really boils down to the ratios for the power steering pump. And something happened with the low rpm on a speedway track and the steering pump locked up on him. So now, today, I'll just feel it a tire is down and I'll just wiggle it a little bit, but I won't take the big swipes back and forth to clean the tires up just because of that incident."

DID YOU HAVE AN ENGINE FAILURE THAT RACE?

JOHNSON: "Oh, you're right. I think we all did, right? We all (HMS cars) blew up. Yep."

BUT THAT WAS TOTALLY UNRELATED?

JOHNSON: "Yep, I think we had a valve train problem and if it is that race, I remember one (engine) went and then within two or three laps, all the Hendrick cars were behind the wall."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Denny Hamlin