JIMMIE JOHNSON , NO. 48 CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - Finished 3rd "It was a very hard race with the long green flag runs we had today and the stress of being in the back. You'd complete five laps and look in the mirror and the leader was behind you.
JIMMIE JOHNSON , NO. 48 CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - Finished 3rd
"It was a very hard race with the long green flag runs we had today and the stress of being in the back. You'd complete five laps and look in the mirror and the leader was behind you. It was difficult coming from the back. We chose to pit quite a bit at the beginning and get our car as good as it could be. We hoped we would have enough fuel and good enough tires to catch the leaders when they would have to pit. It worked out where we didn't need to pit because we just pitted 12 laps before that and after that, we were able to stay up front. We fought for it the rest of the day.
"We led at one point. But for some reason - I guess I didn't clean my tires off good enough when we went back to green after that run and I got real loose a couple of times and Junior got by. We slid back. He was really in a class of his own today. I was surprised we caught him and passed him the one time. On that last restart, unfortunately somebody got into us and I lost a few positions. A lot of lapped cars got in front of me and I had to use my stuff up trying to get up to the No. 30 and the No.12 and I got by the No. 30 and brought it home. This is something this team needed real bad after the rough month we've had and the hard weekend I put them through. Coming in third was like winning for us."
HOW WAS IT TO HAVE A STRONG RUN AFTER STRUGGLING RECENTLY?
"Obviously we're very happy to be back on track. This team is very strong and we try not to let bad things get us down. When you get three consecutive DNF's - all for different reasons - it does take its toll on you. To come back and get a third place finish is something this team needed. We've got to get to work and that final 10 is coming up faster than we can believe it. We're ready to test. We're ready to get going. We'll be in New Hampshire this week and getting ready for the final 10."
ON CHAD'S EARLY PIT STRATEGY
"We were going to have to take a gamble at some point. And fortunately it worked out early in the race that we could be toward the front and not have to be in any dicey situations. In the beginning of the race, I was right around several wrecks and had some close calls so I was pretty nervous with that. About 80 laps in, we caught our break where we could cycle through and then we had the speed to stay up front."
IT WAS EXPECTED THAT BRISTOL WOULD BE WILD AND CRAZY BECAUSE OF THE NEW POINTS SYSTEM, BUT INSTEAD IT WAS RELATIVELY CALM
"It depends on where you're at in the points. Junior is rebounding back from some difficulties. Ryan was as well. I was. Jeff Burton is in a new situation. So the guys I had to race at the end of the race - we were all being pretty respectful to one another because we needed to have good nights. That maybe worked in to the deal there. Back in the pack, some of the other guys needed to finish races. I noticed the No. 9 and the No. 19 didn't have the best night. Your chance at the championship is in two weeks. If you don't make that cut, you're only racing for 11th."
ON GOING TO CALIFORNIA INSTEAD OF DARLINGTON NEXT WEEK
"I'm really torn. I really enjoy racing at Darlington. It's such a cool race track. We won there in the spring. I wish we were racing there a couple times a year. But Fontana has been good to us. Jeff won there and we were second. We'll be in good shape. We've got a good understanding about what's been going on with our engine stuff. Some little things have slipped through on us that have caused some problems. So we'll go to Fontana very secure and confident with the engine package we have on top of the aero and mechanical grip and it should be good. Over the holidays and under the lights will take our sport another step forward."