Atlanta: Johnson post-race interview

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - Finished 2nd: "The whole day was a lot of fun. But at the end, the No. 99 (Carl Edwards) was really strong. I thought that his car was going to give up like it had throughout the other runs...


"The whole day was a lot of fun. But at the end, the No. 99 (Carl Edwards) was really strong. I thought that his car was going to give up like it had throughout the other runs and that I was going to be in good shape. But as the laps wound down, he started searching around the race track and found some grip on the top of Turns 3 and 4 and had me thinking about it. So when I went into Turn 3 coming to the white flag, I moved up a little bit to see what was out there. I guess I didn't go up far enough. I went in the middle of the track and it was pretty slick. When I came off of Turn 4, all I could see was windshield, so I knew he was coming."

"I came back around the next time and I knew I needed to get back there on the top so that the momentum down the front stretch would carry me by even if he got inside of me, I was willing to give it up. I just wanted to slingshot by at the start/finish. He still found a little spot out there next to the wall and got a run around me and then the momentum carried him past me coming to the start/finish."

(IN HINDSIGHT, WHEN YOU AND EDWARDS COLIDED ON THE LAST LAP, WOULD IT HAVE BEEN BETTER TO DIP DOWN RATHER THAN TO BE THAT TIGHT WITH HIM?) "No, not when you're the one being passed. It's kind of like sliding down a wall or something. You just want to hang on to whatever you can at that point. I was trying to break his momentum. But where I messed up and lost the race was coming to the white flag. I should have just stuck to the bottom and stayed in my lane and everything would have been fine, I think. But I moved up, and tried to find something and missed it."

(ON THE SEASON SO FAR AND BEING VERY UPBEAT) "I have to be upbeat. We had a great performance today to end up second. You never know when or if this streak will come to and end or however it works out in this sport. So I'm enjoying every solid finish we have. So I'm very happy to be here. We put a lot of work into this race. It's a big weekend for us to come back from the weekend we had. We're excited to finish second. We thought we were going to go to Victory Lane. But I've got to be upbeat. I've got guys who work their guts out for me, and work extremely hard. I'm disappointed though if you could have heard the conversation I had with myself from the start/finish line back around to when I was interviewed, you might have had a different impression of that. But I hate losing. I did all I could today. I made one small mistake and it cost me the win."

(WHAT WERE YOU SAYING TO YOURSELF?) "I don't think we can print it (laughs). I'll be fined quite a few points. I think it's 25 per four-letter word, right?"

(GREG BIFFLE'S VIEW WAS DIFFERENT. DO YOU THINK THAT MAYBE YOU SHOULD HAVE MOVED UP ON CARL EDWARDS OFF OF TURN 4?) "The last thing I wanted to do was wreck our race car. Maybe I should have tried to squeeze up off of Turn 4. But I'm not sure what would have happened then. Maybe I would have slid across the line in front of him and he would have been in the side of me and we still would have won. That would have been cool. But I thought he was there. The other thing is it's tough for the spotters at the start/finish line looking down on the track and getting an idea of depth perception.

"I saw Greg coming in to the Media Center. He said I barely have enough room. When you're 400-500 yards away, for a spotter to call six inches or so is pretty tough. Maybe the room was there. I'm not sure. But if I wouldn't have made the mistake coming to the white flag I think it would have been a different story anyway."

(IN SENSE, IS THIS KIND OF A VINDICATION AFTER WHAT HAPPENED LAST WEEK?) "Absolutely. Believe me, we were thinking about being in Victory Lane and smiling over everyone and all the critics that believe we were doing something goofy last weekend. We're going to be here all year long and hopefully we're going to be up front and hopefully in contention for this championship and prove out what this team is capable of and change the impression that some people may have about the team or that we were cheating in Vegas or whatever it may be. So this is definitely a big race for us to come back and run strong in."

(ON CARL EDWARDS) "I was talking about Carl last year. He does a great job. You could see his intensity and his car control. I pointed it out last year. I think I said a couple of times that he would be the next superstar. He's definitely going to be one of those guys. He's turned that No. 99 car around. Those guys are doing a great job. He got it done in the Busch car and then here in the Cup car. It's a big week for him. I'm sure he's going to be floating for a couple of weeks. It's a great way to go into an off-week for him, too."

(WHEN YOU WERE PASSED BY GREG BIFFLE ON PIT ROAD AND WERE CONCERNED ABOUT SPEED, ARE YOU GOING TO TRY AND GET A CLEARER ANSWER FROM NASCAR AS TO WHAT EXACTLY IS GOING ON?) "I was right at 4100, which was my mark and which probably doesn't mean much to anyone. But I was right on my numbers and I know there is a little bit of speed left in there that NASCAR will help pad it for you. I haven't pushed the issue. I got in trouble at Daytona on this deal and didn't want to push the envelope. I guess Greg was right on the line in dealing with it. I do feel confident that NASCAR's going to call it. They've shown no mercy on if you're speeding, you're speeding. So evidently he was flirting right with it and didn't do it and I may have been a little cautious."

(ON JIMMIE JOHNSON VS. THE ROUSH FLEET) "I think the Roush cars and Hendrick cars have definitely been up to speed. I hate to see the trouble that Jeff (Gordon) had. I wish Brian (Vickers) was up there and Kyle (Busch). I needed some help up there. We've got four Roush cars and one Hendrick car. You'll see some change coming soon. It takes five or six weeks before the rest of the teams catch up.

"At the beginning of the season with a new package, it seems that between the Roush teams and the Hendrick teams that we all have the same stuff. It boils down to pit stops and stuff like that. Once we get to the mid point of the season, I think you'll see all the major teams up there. It's just everybody trying to figure out what to do with this new package right now."

(IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT'S WRONG WITH DALE EARNHARDT JR. THIS YEAR?) "I don't know enough about the changes at DEI or their personnel. But I think anytime you restructure a team, it's going to take some time to get things going. I definitely believe they'll have some troubles getting going. Once they get going I think everything will be fine. But you've got to go through everything and start all over again with the words you use to describe the car. On my team, for example, Chad and I communicate now better than in our rookie season. We were good then, but nothing like we are now. Junior's got to start over. He's had so many years with the Eurys and that group of guys, it's going to take some time to get going."

(HOW WILL YOU START YOUR NOTES ON THIS RACE?) "By saying, 'Don't blow it coming to the white flag (laughs).' The race was clean. The race was great. I've got no regrets from the race. We came up five or six feet short at the end, but it was just a great solid effort by the whole team. I'm very proud of the day."

-gm racing-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Carl Edwards