JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWES/KOBALT TOOL IMPALA SS met with members of the media at Lowe's Motor Speedway and discussed the importance of the All-Star race, his success at Lowe's; Dale Jarrett's last race, where he feels their 1.5-mile track...
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWES/KOBALT TOOL IMPALA SS met with members of the media at Lowe's Motor Speedway and discussed the importance of the All-Star race, his success at Lowe's; Dale Jarrett's last race, where he feels their 1.5-mile track program is and other topics.
HOW TO YOU KNOW WHEN YOUR PROGRAM ON THE MILE AND A HALF TRACKS IS WHERE IT NEEDS TO BE? HOW DO YOU GAGE THAT? : "It really boils down to how you perform. You might not have the finish that you want, but if you are competitive all day long and if something outside of being competitive takes you out of a good finish, then you sleep well. The biggest thing is going to the track, seeing how you stack up in the race and during the course of the race."
SO BASED ON HOW YOU RAN AT TEXAS AND ATLANTA DOESN'T FACTOR IN? "Texas was great for us. Darlington, we started off the weekend a little slow, gained some speed. Unfortunately I wiped out some cars in the process. At Darlington we don't have the result to show for the progress we made. I look back at Darlington and look at the mistake I made during the race and tapped the wall. My teammates ran well, so I think the speeds we saw at Darlington, even though it is a small track, the speeds showed we are making progress on the mile and a half tracks."
HOW DOES THE ALL-STAR RACE RANK IN IMPORTANCE FOR YOU AS A DRIVER? "It is really high on the list. I think to go to Daytona, Brickyard, the Coke 600, you have three or four big races there, then you have the All-Star event. I have been fortunate to win it a couple of times and I know how special it is. I know that it is an elite group out there to win against. I look forwarding to winning it again. It is a big race. You look at it, focus on it and the payoff of a million bucks is pretty special too."
HOW DIFFERENTLY DO YOU APPROACH THIS RACE COMPARED TO ALL THE OTHER RACES OF THE SEASON? "We start off saying how we don't have any pressure, it is just form. We have this approach that is pretty relaxed. The as soon as the track goes green, everybody goes back in to race mode and it turns in to a race weekend for us. It is such a good chance to find out what we need to do for the 600. We need to be on our toes, be smart. If you are in position to win, you throw caution to the wind at that point. Once the track is hot, it turns in to a regular race weekend."
HOW WOULD YOU RATE YOUR SEASON SO FAR? "Decent. We have gotten off to a decent start. But there is a lot of room to grow. I think where we are right now, we are decent."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT DALE JARRETT AS HE HEADS IN TO HIS LAST RACE? "It is hard to think it is his last race. Real happy though that he is going to be around in the sport so we can see him. What he and his family have done for this sport is. I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for people like the Jarretts, especially Dale. Both as a driver and a representative of our sport, he is a very special man and great guy. I respect him for all that he has done I am excited for him but also disappointed that I am going to be a part of his last event. That is going to be a tough night for him I am sure."
THAT BEING SAID, IF IT IS YOU AND HIM COMING DOWN TO THE FINISHLINE, ANY DECISIONS THERE? I KNOW YOU WILL GO FOR THE WIN, RIGHT? "I am all about the win. If it is DJ, he is going down (LAUGHS)."
HOW DO YOU TURN "DECENT" IN TO GOOD? "It is just hard work throughout the season to figure it out. The mile and a halves stuff, we haven't been on some of the faster tracks for a couple of weeks. So, we are sure, but we aren't exactly sure where we stack up. I think this weekend, the All-Star weekend, will show us where we are at. It really boils down to getting to work. We have been testing, we have tested a lot. On our own and also the NASCAR tests that have come along. Hopefully we are closing the gap faster than people are getting away from us."
DO YOU GO TO THE TRACK FEELING INVINCIBLE? "I am very fortunate now, regardless of how we show up, by the time the checkered flag falls we are going to be in contention. Typically, we do that. At Las Vegas, it didn't work out that way. Most tracks, we are in the hunt at some point. Very lucky to have to have an excellent pit crew, they can make a lot of adjustments on stops. Knaus (Chad, crew chief) is willing to try anything to get me up to speed."
WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON KYLE BUSCH THIS SEASON? "He is doing a great job. I think he has matured a lot. I think the move from Hendrick Motorsports to Joe Gibbs Racing has helped him in some ways. From working with him the past few years, he is fast, I've known it, we have all known it and seen it coming. Now he is just taking advantage of the opportunity, he is doing a great job."
DO YOU SEE HIM LOSING THAT EDGE WITH A LITTLE MORE AGE, A FAMILY? "I see a lot of things that help mature Kyle from making mistakes, to growing older, experience. Working with him the last couple of years, I know how intense he is and I know how bad he wants to succeed in our sport. That almost gets in his way sometimes. He means well, drives his butt off, it is good to see it all come together for him and finishing like he is and running like he is."
DID YOU FEEL FOOLISH AT ALL THE SECOND TIME YOU HIT THE WALL AT DARLINGTON? "From impact three through five, I felt foolish. (LAUGHS). Three through five took place in the race."
I MEAN BEFORE THE RACE IN PRACTICE: "Yes and no. The mindset you have when you unload a backup car is just like you are with the original car. That was what we did. Our first lap out, was as fast as I had gone in the original car. I was committed to going hard. Chad had a $100 bucks on it that I couldn't go as fast in the backup car, so we were playing in to it. We didn't want the fact we were going to backup car slow us down. I stayed committed to how I was driving the car."
YOUR THOUGHTS ON HUMPY (WHEELER) COMPARING YOU TO A GREYHOUND DOG IN HIS PICKS PRESS CONFERENCE THE OTHER DAY. "I didn't know about that. They are fast, but they have a short life, right? So, I don't know if I like that. (LAUGHS)."
YOUR THOUGHTS IN GENERAL OF COMING BACK TO A TRACK WHERE PEOPLE SAY 'THIS IS YOUR HOUSE'. "It has been very good to us for a few years. Last year, we had the speed and I think we finished second. I ran well in both races, but we didn't have that dominating fashion that we did before. I am glad that people still say that. It means a lot to Hendrick to run well here. Also the No. 48 here at Lowe's Motor Speedway. We want it, we are going to show up and hopefully have that. But the tricks that used to work here for me, aren't here anymore. They have resurfaced the track a few times, it is just not the same Charlotte that we had such a good feel for. But, I still think we are going to be in the hunt."
DOES THE UNIFICATION IN OPEN WHEEL RACING SPARK AN INTEREST FOR YOU TO RUNNING THE INDIANAPOLIS 500? "I think the unification is great, I am really excited to see it. It is going to take the a little time to get the parody between the two divisions before it is fair and equal racing for everyone involved. The road course guys are off to a bit of a slow start, but, I am happy to see it. I am hopeful that within motorsports, we can all get along and make sure that the time frames work out to allow NASCAR drivers to run the 500 if they choose to. I think it is good for everyone. I am happy to see open wheel growing and those race fans getting some satisfaction in watching their cars go around.
"Absolutely, I would love to run the Indianapolis 500. I don't have anything in play and nothing more than expressing how I would love to do it. But, I would love to have that opportunity to do it."
ARE THE DRIVER'S GOING TO DO ANYTHING FOR DALE JARRETT IN THE DRIVER'S MEETING TOMORROW NIGHT? "There is nothing planned, that I have heard of. There are a lot of people that respect him in this garage area, I wouldn't be surprised if he got a standing ovation or something like."
DO YOU HAVE A DJ ANECDOTE? "I am not sure if it is an anecdote, but when I think of DJ, I just think of someone that carries himself the right way regardless of the situation and I really respect what he has accomplished, how he has handled himself, he is just a gracious guy. I really respect who and what he is."
-credit: gm racing