Charlotte II: Points leader Johnson press conference

Bank of America 500 Post-Race Transcript An interview with: JIMMIE JOHNSON KERRY THARP: Jimmie Johnson, our points leader, I believe for the third consecutive week. Your thoughts about how the race unfolded out there tonight, ...

Bank of America 500 Post-Race Transcript

An interview with:
JIMMIE JOHNSON

KERRY THARP: Jimmie Johnson, our points leader, I believe for the third consecutive week. Your thoughts about how the race unfolded out there tonight, Jimmie?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: First two thirds was good for us, then we were junk at the end. Tried to get up there. Took a lot of risks tonight trying to get as many points as I could on the 16 and trying to hang with that 31 and get by him. Damn near threw it away a couple times. Early in the race we had some pretty big moments as well.

Just hate the last third of the race. We got out in left field and couldn't get it back.

KERRY THARP: Questions now for Johnson:

Q: Jimmie, as Jeff Burton had kind of lurked there right near, had you noticed him when you looked at the standings week by week? Did you wonder if he was going to pop through and get a win? Also, how frustrating was it to not quite get it done in that duel, and did that cause your car to get worse to fall back like that?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: No, the duel, I was just trying to get it done when I had those fresh right side tires. That's what put me on pace with him. The old characteristics showed back up in the car, what we were dealing with.

But for sure it's frustrating not being able to complete the pass. He didn't leave me a lot of room. There's two times on the entry to one where I was dead, one into three and the other into one actually. Thought I was going to clean us both out. Fortunately that didn't happen. But I was certainly frustrated slipping back through the field. You don't know important those points are going to be till the end of the year. Watching each guy go by, counting them as they go by, is no fun.

What was the first question?

Q: Had you noticed Jeff week by week lurking there close to the standings under the radar?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: He's always been on my radar screen. I think in '06 he led most of the Chase. He's been doing this a long time. He knows the tracks. He's revitalized RCR over the years. I think we can all give him a lot of credit for the turnaround RCR has had. On track he's smart. He knows how to race hard. He's been out there a long time. He knows how to race and get points.

He's always been on my radar.

Q: Jimmie, are you really confident now going into Martinsville? You've won there before.

JIMMIE JOHNSON: I feel good about Martinsville. Right now I'm pissed about tonight. But, you know, tomorrow, Tuesday, whatever it is, be ready for Martinsville. I think we'll be real good over there. It's been a great track to us. I'm excited to go there. Hopefully we can take advantage of going to a good track.

Q: Jimmie, we talk about consistency, we talk about top fives. Today was a gamble. The guy wins on a gamble. Is a gamble what it's going to take to beat you from this point on, being the points leader?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: Hell, I don't know. I think that it might have been a gamble for the 31. I'm not sure it was that big of a risk. We took fuel only earlier in the race. If you're stuff's working right, and you're on, you know...

I think it was less risk than it looked like.  It wasn't like Atlanta or
something where we didn't take tires and you really need 'em.  He had plenty
of speed.  They took off and ran away from us.

Q: Jimmie, I don't think I've seen you this pissed in a while. Obviously the guys passing you there in the end, falling back in the field, are you upset with that specifically or the way the car was handling at the end? Is something that frustrated you the most?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: It's probably all of it rolled up into one. Had to take a lot of chances today to get the result that we did. I don't like putting myself in that situation. Almost lost the car a handful of times. So that frustration of being on pins and needles out there, trying to run as hard as you can, watching positions slip by and things like that, all just keeps adding up.

Really the last third of the race, it was like that. So I've got a good hour of being upset in me. Take a little while to get it out of my system (laughter).

Q: Jimmie, looking at the points standings, there's two other guys within 150 points of you. Fourth place is 168, Carl. You came back from 146 in 2006. How comfortable does it make you? Do you feel you've narrowed the field to you, Jeff and Greg?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: You know, in some ways I do. But it's such a relative situation. If us top three guys have problems, those guys are right back in it. As we get down to fewer races on the schedule left, I think that margin becomes more comfortable.

That's a decent margin. Heck, we're only halfway through it. I was more than that and down after Talladega it was. But it took other guys having problems to let me into it.

So if we go clean, that's going to be really tough for the 99 to overcome. But if we all have trouble, then he's right back in it.

KERRY THARP: Jimmie, thanks so much.

-credit: nascar

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Jimmie Johnson