Atlanta II: Johnson - GM post-practice interview

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - Post practice WHAT CAN YOU DO TO GET THE EDGE ON THE ATLANTA TRACK? "Go fast. That's all you can do. It's a long race and a tough track. A lot of things can happen. You've got to go out and...


WHAT CAN YOU DO TO GET THE EDGE ON THE ATLANTA TRACK? "Go fast. That's all you can do. It's a long race and a tough track. A lot of things can happen. You've got to go out and do your job and let things fall into place from there."

WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF THIS TONY STEWART VS. CHAD KNAUS THING THAT'S GOING ON? "For somebody who says it doesn't bother him, evidently it has. Indirectly, I guess, something's gotten to him. That's his deal and he's spending some time thinking about it. Last week, the reason we went out to follow him in practice was out of respect for him. He had the best car and we wanted to see how we stood up next to him. And we passed him. It felt good on the radio and we talked about it. So if he's still upset over that, then indirectly I guess we've gotten inside of his head even though he's said we haven't."

TONY STEWART COMPARES THIS WITH SAYING SOMETHING ABOUT HIS MOTHER. DID YOU HEAR ANYTHING FROM CHAD KNAUS THAT WOULD BE THAT INSULTING TO HIS TEAM AND HIS CAR? "Something has gotten to him. Who know? I've said several times now that this was out of respect for him and admitting that he had one of the better cars in practice. I went out behind him and chased him down and passed him. And talking on the radio and feeling positive about that...whatever. It doesn't mean anything to me."

WHAT CHAD KNAUS SAID REMAINS A MYSTERY. DID CHAD TELL YOU TO RUN ON HIS BUMPER AND GET INSIDE HIS HEAD OR TO DO ANYTHING THAT TONY STEWART WOULD HAVE BEEN UPSET ABOUT? "Nope. A lot more has been made of this than anybody ever thought. It's not coming from our camp. It's coming from somewhere else. For people to say it's not inside their heads, evidently it is."

WOULD IT BE EASY TO PLAY MINDGAMES WITH YOU? "After last year and overcoming the tragedy of the plane coming down and being 247 points out and then coming back and almost winning the championship, I learned a lot last year. I learned a lot about myself and about my race team. And really I learned a lot about not letting outside influences bother me or the team. We're better than that. We're stronger than that. We'll just keep racing. If it's in our cards and it's supposed to be, we'll be the champions. There is nothing that's going to change that. We're going to give 100 percent every week. If we do our job, we'll be the champions. If not, we'll come back next year and try again."

WHAT DO YOU THINK TONY STEWART WAS THINKING AND THE CONTACT AT THE END OF THE MARTINSVILLE RACE? "It's tough to say. Its hard core short track racing. He felt like he needed to give me a bump and run to get by me. There are a lot of races left and a lot of things can still play out. We'll just see how everything shakes out. Everybody is making such a rivalry out of the No. 20 and us. There are a lot of other good cars. We're here at Atlanta and the Roush cars are here at the top of the board. There are a lot of other guys to worry about. I'm not going to let all this chatter get us something to worry about. There are really four or five teams to worry about and this is just a waste of time talking about it."

ARE THESE MIND GAMES PLAYED IN OTHER RACING SERIES THAT YOU'VE BEEN IN? "We play mind games every week, every lap. Some people let kit bother them. Others don't. When you look up in the mirror and you see certain guys, it distracts. It does things internally. We live with that all the time. We're all professionals and we live with that all the time. We all know how to do it. In my opinion, I really think there's a lot of chatter, but I really think it's out of the sport of it and out of the fun of it. I just really can't see people getting this emotional or upset over us feeling they had a better car and going out in practice behind them and following them and passed them. That's hilarious."

IS IT MORE LIKE TONY STEWART IS TRYING TO START A MIND GAME BACK WITH CHAD KNAUS? "I'm not sure. Maybe you should go ask him. I don't know."

IS THIS A TWO-MAN RACE RIGHT NOW? "No. That would be a mistake on my part to feel that it's a two-person race. That would be foolish on my part. There is a lot of racing left. Somebody is 40 or 50 points out and that can easily happen in a race if not more, without a crash or something. There is still a lot of racing left."

HOW DO YOU THINK CARL EDWARDS HAS DONE THIS YEAR? "He's been awesome. To make the Chase with all the pressure coming into this sport is great. He's been able to win some races at the first of the season. I think he's really shown some maturity and has done a good job."

ON NOT BEING ABLE TO TEST AT HOMESTEAD BECAUSE OF THE HURRICANE? "It's a good track for us. When I look at the remaining races, everybody is strong at these races. I've been saying all along that I think it's about not losing the championship. It's about not having anything go wrong or making any mistakes and trying to complete every lap and finishing strong. It's the way it's played out. Everybody is winning races. Everybody has been in the top three, top five, and it's going to be about not having DNF's. That's my goal."

IS GREG BIFFLE ONE OF THESE GUYS WHO COULD WIN A COUPLE OF RACES AND BE RIGHT BACK IN THE HUNT? "Statistically, you can look at the end of the season for the No. 16 team and they usually have a strong finish to their season. Plus we're coming back to some tracks where he had early success at the season. All in all, I think Biffle is strong. Mark (Martin) is a little further out, but you can't count him out. The No. 17 (Kenseth) is there. The No. 12 (Newman) is there week in and week out overcoming some adversity. Tony (Stewart) has been strong. I really think it's still a five or six car race."

DO YOU HAVE A PARTICULAR STRATEGY FOR THE LAST PORTION OF SUNDAY'S RACE? "No, it's not something you can really think about. You just work on the handling of the car. If you're running hard, you're running hard. You just want to be up front. Having Hendrick engines is something that I don't worry about. I don't think any of the drivers really can. You just go as hard as you can."

IS KEEPING THE SAME GUYS TOGETHER ON ONE TEAM A CRITICAL PART OF DOING WELL IN THE CHASE: "I think so. It's really about the people. Having good teams can make the difference. Having people pulled away from your team definitely puts an unneeded stress or burden on your team at this point in the season. I'm also really lucky to have my same guys that are committed and focused and don't worry about any outside influence."

ON NOT HAVING THE DALE EARNHARDT OR JEFF GORDON IN THE CHASE? "To not have the No. 8 or the No. 24 in the Chase, gives a lot of credibility to the drivers who are in the Chase. I'm not really sure from the fans' perspective, but I think it shows the world that our sport is tough and that the guys who are in the Chase have done a really good job of making it."

WHAT DID JEFF GORDON'S WIN AT MARTINSVILLE LAST WEEK DO FOR YOUR EFFORTS? "Really a win at Hendrick Motorsports -- no matter what team it is -- is a win for the No. 48 team. We're working hard and working on new things. In the No. 24 and No. 48 shops, the same guys work on those cars from week to week. And now to have three wins in the final 10, everybody's spirits are up in the shop. Everybody feels really good."

-gm racing-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Teams Hendrick Motorsports