Charlotte II: Johnson - GM Top-10 interview



YOU'VE HAD A FEW DAYS TO REFLECT ON THE TALLADEGA RACE. WHAT'S YOU'RE INTERPRETATION NOW? "It's racing. It's like I've said all along. I know it wasn't intentional. We had a great opportunity to make up some points. But life goes on. We've got to worry about this weekend. Last weekend is last weekend, and it's all good."

HAVE YOU AND BRIAN VICKERS TALKED? "Yeah, we talked and everything's fine."

WITH THE PROBLEMS THAT YOU AND JUNIOR AND JEFF BURTON HAD LAST WEEK THAT SCRAMBLED THE POINTS, ARE YOU SURPRISED THAT NOBODY HAS TAKEN TOTAL CONTROL OF THE CHASE? "No, not really. In looking back at the Chase, every year I've been in it so far, it's been real unpredictable. I think you get so used to the points over a 26-race period of time, it's hard almost after 26 races to move very far in the points. But when you only have a 10-race stretch, you can move a lot in one race with just a little bit of points. I think we forget about that part of it."

WHEN YOU WERE HERE IN MAY, IT WAS VERY HOT. THIS WEEKEND, IT WILL BE MUCH COOLER. DOES THE WEATHER MATTER? "It doesn't make a huge difference. It's a little more comfortable inside the car when it's cooler outside. We can get a little bit more out of the engines and out of the downforce package on the car, but I don't think it's really going to change the race much."

DO YOU THINK THE NASCAR SEASON IS TOO LONG? "Oh yeah. I think everybody feels it's too long. And I'm a driver and have a lot of benefits that the crew members don't get. I get time off during the week. I have a great travel situation and have a motor home to sleep in here that's gives me a sense of home. It's a lot harder on the crew guys. But I think we all know there is no way we're going to get any time off."

WITH SIX RACES TO GO, HOW DO YOU LOOK AT YOUR CHANCES? "I really just have to go out and do all that I can and score as many points as possible and see how it falls into place. We're pretty far out and it's going to be tough to make up the deficit that we have. But the way this Chase has started and the way every year the Chase has been that I've been a part of it, it's so unpredictable. Anything can happen. Just when somebody looks like they're safe and secure, something crazy happens and they lose a lot of points. So I'm just going to do all that I can and see what happens."

DOES THE SITUATION YOU'RE IN RIGHT NOW CAUSE YOU TO TAKE MORE RISKS? "We're in a no-pressure situation. We have nowhere to go but up. And if we were leading the points, we'd be more worried about protecting right now. And we're not in that situation."

WHAT DO YOU EXPECT AT MARTINSVILLE NEXT WEEKEND? "I can't wait to get back. That's been a great race track for me. I think it's a chance where I can score some points on some of the guys like Matt Kenseth and maybe (Jeff) Burton - even though Burton has been strong there. I really like the track and I think it's a chance for me to get some points."

TALLADEGA IS A WILD CARD. DO YOU LOOK AT MARTINSVILLE THE SAME WAY? "At Martinsville, you can't get away from anybody. You have a chance to get caught up in somebody else's wreck or somebody else's problem and take you out of a good points day. So I do look at it as a wild card race. I'm excited to go there. We usually run really well at Martinsville."

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF RICKY CARMICHAEL JOINING MB2 MOTORSPORTS? "I think it's awesome. I've known Ricky for a long time and am a fan of his on top of knowing him. I think it's a great move. And I'm happy to hear that he's going to be patient and just try to get some seat time in doing what he needs to do in a stock car and Late Model experience and ARCA and Truck. Racing is racing to a large degree, but you need to understand the vehicles and understand the tracks and how to go fast in those vehicles. Coming off of motorcycles myself, along with knowing Rick Johnson real well, and other guys who are trying to go from two wheels to four, it's tough for them because they're used to training harder and physically manhandling the bike more to go faster on two wheels. In a car you can't do that. Once you learn how to adjust the car and what to look for you can take off. I would expect after a couple of years he'll be in great shape."

WHY DO YOU THINK SO MANY DRIVERS FROM OTHER SERIES ARE COMING TO NASCAR? "It's an awesome sport. It's very inviting for everyone because there is a lot of racing. There is money in this sport and it's the strongest sport in America. For somebody like Ricky (Carmichael), I know he's been a fan of NASCAR racing his whole life, and as a two-wheeled rider, you know that your career is really pretty short and you can't really get into your 30's and continue racing on the dirt. The biggest sport in the country is right here."

REGARDING DRIVER DEVELOPMENT, DO YOU THINK THEY'RE LOOKING AT OTHER FORMS OF RACING NOW BECAUSE THE BUSCH SERIES ISN'T WHAT IT USED TO BE? "I think everybody will go through Busch at some point. Busch right now, is Cup junior in a sense. You've got all the major powerhouses in there dominating the sport and it's tough to just throw a guy into a car for a Busch Series race or two and expect him to learn it out there. You have to go back a little further starting in ARCA and Trucks - even in Late Model racing and get some of these guys some experience before they go to Busch because Busch is so intense now."

-credit: gm racing

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup