Atlanta: Johnson, Vickers qualifying press conference

JIMMIE JOHNSON , NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - QUALIFIED 3RD -- IS ATLANTA A BETTER INDICATION OF WHERE WE MIGHT SEE THE DIFFERENCES IN THE NEW RULES PACKAGE A LITTLE BETTER? "I think you're going to see a closer gap from the fastest...

JIMMIE JOHNSON , NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - QUALIFIED 3RD --

IS ATLANTA A BETTER INDICATION OF WHERE WE MIGHT SEE THE DIFFERENCES IN THE NEW RULES PACKAGE A LITTLE BETTER?

"I think you're going to see a closer gap from the fastest car to the slowest car. Everybody learned some lessons in Vegas. But we're still in stock cars. We still have Goodyear rubber on the cars. The basics are the same. There are going to be some small differences. The one thing I'm curious about here is the build-up of the marbles that come off the car. They seemed to be more so in Las Vegas and at the tests that we've seen for the second and third groove. We really didn't have a high line come in. We all know you can run against the wall all the way around here. I'm curious to see if the track gets real dirty up there if we're not able to go to the top or how far we really can go."

IS TOO EARLY TO BE CONCERNED ABOUT THE POINTS, OR IS IT NEVER TOO EARLY GIVEN THE NEW POINTS SYSTEM?

"I think it's never too early in any respect. Obviously the points we're collecting make a big difference. There are a couple factors you always have to remind yourself of. One is that it's a long season. Everybody is going to have bad luck. You just try not to have DNF's and have the least amount of bad luck. There are probably 10 cars capable of winning the championship. It boils down to who has the least amount of bad luck. Hopefully we have ours out of the way now. But there are still too many races to believe that.

"But I think the new points system helps you because you can basically start over. You've got that cushion to fall back on. We want to have zero DNF's. Unfortunately we already have one. The morale of the race team is important. We all believe in that so much that we think it won't keep us down."

SINCE YOU DIDN'T TEST HERE, ARE YOU RELIEVED WITH QUALFIYING?

"I think we're very secure with where we are and Las Vegas was a good lesson. We took some adjustments from the Las Vegas set-up and applied them to Atlanta. We feel very good about our 1.5-mile program now. We still need to work on the mile-track and we still need to work on the short tracks."

SINCE THE CHEVROLETS QUALIFIED WELL TODAY, DOES THAT MEAN THEY WILL DO BETTER ON SUNDAY?

"Every time we're on the track, it reflects the cars and where they're at. Some obvious facts are that the Dodges and Fords were given things to help the performance of their cars. You can't deny that. Now, the whole controversy lies in whether or not that gives them an advantage. Is it fair now? Where is it? It's early to tell. It's easy to say we need some help in the motor department or we're not fair and equal in the bodies now. That's what needs to be proved. We, as a team, go back to the drawing board and work harder to figure things out. The Hendrick group has improved from Las Vegas to here."

ON THE 'FIELD FILLERS' WHO SHOW UP JUST TO MAKE THE RACE ON A FAST TRACK LIKE ATLANTA

"I haven't had any problems yet. In the Busch Series, there were problems that came up at times. It's a tough market out there to find sponsorship. When you have DEI sitting there with one car without enough primary sponsorship on it to run a full season, it says a lot about the market and how tough it is to find sponsorship."

BRIAN VICKERS , NO. 25 GMAC CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - QUALIFIED 2ND, TOP ROOKIE QUALFIER

ON THE QUALFIYING SPEED AT ATLANTA

"The speed here is amazing. It's definitely probably the fastest track we go to. I love it. I think that varies from driver to driver. It doesn't really bother me that much. I don't get out of breath or get white-knuckled or anything. Sometimes, you get just as much of that feeling at a place like Bristol. It has the sensation of being one of the fastest tracks even though it may not be. Here, it's definitely a place where you can get out of breath."

HAVE YOU QUALIFIED OUTSIDE OF THE TOP FIVE AT A CUP RACE SO FAR?

"Yes sir, I believe one of them."

HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN THAT? THAT'S A PRETTY IMPRESSIVE START

"I have to attribute that to a great team. Hendrick Motorsports, great sponsors, Chevrolet, and just hard work. As time goes on, they usually build their qualifying up and then they work on their race program. I guess being 20 doesn't hurt any - not knowing when to lift."

-gm-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Teams Hendrick Motorsports