Jimmie Johnson sixth, quickest of the GM cars at Tuesday Indy test. JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO (49.8353/180.595): "I know NASCAR's trying really hard to work on a lot of areas. We had a meeting the other night where...
Jimmie Johnson sixth, quickest of the GM cars at Tuesday Indy test.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO (49.8353/180.595):
"I know NASCAR's trying really hard to work on a lot of areas. We had a meeting the other night where they walked through all the changes and stuff that they've been able to science out and understand. There has been a large focus on the driver cockpit areas; we've learned a lot about that. Also, what we can do with the race cars. On top of that, the walls. There's been a lot of research, a lot of studying going on to figure out what we need for Winston Cup cars and for open-wheel cars. They're making some great gains. I'm glad that we're here with the soft walls up and I hope this technology can apply to a lot of other race tracks. The radius of the outside walls poses a challenge for these engineers to find the right density in different types of materials they need to use for the cars to take the hit. I'm very pleased with the way things are going and we're learning a lot in a lot of different areas of safety."
WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT THIS RACE COURSE TO YOU? "It's got four distinct, different turns. You've got to approach each corner a little bit differently. You make one small mistake it's going to cost you a lot of time, so it's frustrating in some senses, because it's such a long lap around and if you mess up you gotta wait 50-plus seconds to come back and get another try at it. It's a very demanding track, and I think it's going to be really hard to race on."
WILL JEFF'S (GORDON) SUCCESS HERE HELP YOU? "Definitely. We've been able to show up with his baseline setup to work from there. The technology and the way these cars want to perform, it's been changing continually over and over. We had a great starting point, refined our race setup, and got me a lot of experience, and then started on the qualifying stuff today, and it's worked really well for us."
DOES THE NEW DIAMOND GRINDING PROVIDE GRIP? "Everyone speaks of the grip. I don't know any better; I've never been here before, so this is my first time to be on the race track. There is a lot of grip at times, but the sun really heats the track up and you lose grip. I've been fighting a real tight condition and I could imagine it's only gong to be worse in the race in traffic. It's a fun track; it's very demanding on you. I think without the banking and the flat track for these big heavy cars we still need more grip or can use more grip to be faster, but this is still going to be a good race."
AS AN OWNER, HAS JEFF PUT A LOT OF PRESSURE ON YOU TO DO WELL HERE? "No, there's no pressure. We just try to go out and perform each week and do all we can. It's been real lucky for us in this rookie year. We haven't had any pressure on the performance side of things; fortunately that stuff's come pretty easily for us. I shouldn't say easily, but it's come early for us. We've been able to back it up often. Luckily there is no pressure there yet."
JEFF GREEN, NO. 30 AOL CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO (50.0027/179.990):
HOW IS THE TEST GOING? "It's going pretty good. We learned a lot of things yesterday, I think, for race stuff and we've been working on qualifying this morning. I think we learned quite a bit this morning too. We're running pretty good; we're kind of pleased with that."
DID YOU NOTICE THE SOFT WALLS? "If I didn't know they were there I would have never noticed them, because where you exit off the corner there they end before you really get out to the wall. I realize what they're trying to do and I think it's the greatest situation. It doesn't come into play at all when you're on a normal lap. If you don't spin out and hit them you'll never know they're there."
ON THE DIAMOND GRINDING: "It's awesome. it's lots, lots better than it was last year. We have the same tire we had last year; it's just like we got a better tire than we did last year. I never thought it was very rough anyway, so I guess it's a little bit smoother and it gives us a lot more grip."
MICHAEL WALTRIP, NO. 15 NAPA AUTO PARTS CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO (50.9751/176.557):
ON THE DIAMOND GRINDING: "They've done a nice job with that process. It has given the cars more stability in the turns. Stable is good."
DOES THE LUSTER REMAIN COMING BACK TO THIS TRACK AGAIN? "This is special. The Daytona 500 is our biggest race. I've been going down there since I was 12 years old to watch my brother race in the Daytona 500. So luster is not about how many times you have been there, it's about the event and the spectacle of the event."
ON THE SOFT WALLS: "A wall's a wall and a soft wall is better than a hard one. I don't want to hit either one, if I've got a choice."
DOES IT MAKE YOU FEEL SAFER? "You just appreciate the effort. After all that we've done and learned in the world of safety lately we know that that's certainly an improvement and a step in the right direction, so, yes, it makes you feel a lot better about what you're doing."
ON TEAMS SWITCHING CARS, LIKE PONTIAC TO CHEVY: "It doesn't matter. Everybody's got to do what's best for their team, and I don't really have an opinion on it. We're not switching."
WITH GIBBS, DOES IT HELP COMING TO CHEVY? "It doesn't hurt. It's just another quality team on our side. I think the best teams are the Chevy teams, with Hendrick Motorsports, with Richard Childress and with DEI. We have a lot of knowledge and resources there already, and they'll just add to that."
IS IT THE PEOPLE WHO ARE THERE OR THE CHEVROLET? "It's the people that developed it, the innovative minds that work on them in our garages."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO (50.4672/178.334):
ON TESTING HERE, HAS IT CHANGED? "They've done some grinding on the track, so the track's got a lot of grip, so we're just trying to see how things have evolved for our cars, the tires and also with the track, so we're learning quite a bit."
HOW WILL THIS AFFECT THE RACE? "I think the speeds are going to be really fast. I'm hoping that we do have a little more tire wear than we had at most places, because that way it won't come down to a fuel mileage deal. It will come down to putting new tires on. Not a whole lot of an outside groove, because of all the rubber build-up that's been thrown out there. It's going to make it interesting. There's more grip out there. I just don't know if we'll be able to make the groove wide enough."
ON THE SOFT WALL TECHNOLOGY: "We're excited to have it there. None of us want to use it and find out how well it works. It's nice to know that they're taking extra measures to make the race track safer for all of us. I think it's a good thing."
YOU KNOW HOW TO WIN HERE: "Sometimes it's liking the track, sometimes it's putting a good setup under the car and sometimes it's just getting some good, lucky breaks. We've had all those things fall in our favor when we've been here in Indianapolis, and we hope we can do that again this year."
ON THE WINLESS STREAK YET HIGH IN POINTS: "Just because we're not winning doesn't mean we won't be a threat for the championship, but we would certainly like to do it in winning fashion."
KEN HOWES, DIRECTOR OF COMPETITION, HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS (Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Chevy Monte Carlo, and Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Chevy Monte Carlo, No. 25 UAW-Delphi Chevy Monte Carlo - 50.0446/179.840):
"Jimmie's really accomplished what we'd hoped. He spent yesterday learning the track and just really running around with race setups on the car and started to make some qualifying laps today, and he's pretty good. We're very pleased." JEFF? "I think Jeff's done enough to know what he needs to know. I think they'll go home and when he comes back he'll be charged up and ready to go." JOE? "Joe is doing a good job too. He ran some good times this morning in qualifying trim. They've been concentrating on race setup later today, and things are going well."
THAT'S A LOT OF MILES THIS TEAM HAS RUN PER CAR SINCE THURSDAY: "400 miles in Chicago in the race, 100 miles in practice and qualifying there, and 100 miles here. That's a lot."
BOBBY LABONTE, TESTING PONTIAC GRAND PRIX AND CHEVY MONTE CARLO FOR JOE GIBBS RACING (Monte Carlo: 51.8930/173.434):
HOW MANY LAPS ON THE MONTE CARLO TODAY? "Probably 45-50 laps." FIND ANYTHING? "We found a little bit. We're still not as happy as we'd like to be. But we're not happy with either car, so it's an Indy test. We've been here before, we struggled like you wouldn't believe and came back to run good. It's nothing new for us, but we're not very satisfied with that either."
GREG ZIPADELLI, CREW CHIEF, NO. 20 PONTIAC AND CHEVROLET FOR JOE GIBBS RACING:
IS IT A CHALLENGE TO TEST TWO DIFFERENT BRANDS AT ONE TIME (Monte Carlo time - 50.5679/177.979)? "What happened was we really didn't give either car a hundred percent. That's what happens in a situation like this. Track time is so limited because there are so many cars. It takes so long to get in and out of here (the garage area) and around that we didn't make anywhere nearly the runs that we kind of anticipated and the things we wanted to go through on the Monte Carlo. We got our Pontiac driving awesome and (we're) probably going to bring that car back here. The Monte Carlo ran good, but we never got it to drive where he was really comfortable in it. That's our fault, or my fault. I just didn't get the right springs and shock combination. We had it close a couple of times and we went into different directions to try to get some feedback because if we did bring it back I wanted to have some feedback from him of changing some things of what it did. It's going to react a little different than what we have here (Pontiac). We need to spend some more time working on it. It showed a lot of promise. It drove good, straightaway speed was good. It drove really good yesterday and this morning. This afternoon it didn't drive like we wanted it to, the track got hot. And we started to try and go in some directions that we were searching, and it wasn't right and we couldn't get back on track quick enough to feel comfortable to say that we brought it back."
DO YOU GET CONFUSED BETWEEN THE TWO CARS? "Sometimes. Trying to keep notes and track of shocks and springs and everything going into different directions. That made it a little bit difficult. We didn't spend anywhere near the amount of time that we normally do like working on our Pontiac that we did last year with two of them. You kind of spend the first half day just getting a feel for them and then we usually pick a car and then concentrate on the next day and a half on it. We didn't get that opportunity today. That last run was extremely, extremely strong with our Pontiac. We just made a 35-lap run. It was far superior to anything we saw and better than that."