Charlotte II: Winning team interview

Jimmie Johnson wins the UAW-GM Quality 500 Lowe's Motor Speedway Winner Press Conference Jimmie Johnson (driver) Chad Knaus (crew chief) Rick Hendrick (team owner) No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet ON BEING TIED WITH TONY STEWART FOR THE LEAD IN THE...

Jimmie Johnson wins the UAW-GM Quality 500
Lowe's Motor Speedway
Winner Press Conference

Jimmie Johnson (driver)
Chad Knaus (crew chief)
Rick Hendrick (team owner)
No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet

ON BEING TIED WITH TONY STEWART FOR THE LEAD IN THE POINT STANDINGS

JOHNSON Yeah, we're definitely excited to be where we are in points. But in the first five events, nobody can predict what can happen. We're going to work as hard as we can and put 100 percent in and see where we end up. We did that last year and came up eight points short. We'll do it again this year and if it's meant to be, it's meant to be it's meant to be.

ON THE RESTART WITH THE NO. 21, WERE YOU CONCERNED WITH THE SMOKE COMING OFF THE LEFT FRONT?

JOHNSON I was really concerned. Usually when you can smell a tire rub, you know it's pretty bad. I could tell in Chad's voice and my spotter's voice that it was pretty severe. I moved up the race track to try to keep the left front from traveling as far and hitting the fender as hard. I'm not sure if that really changed much. But I think the tire eventually cleared itself and moved the fender out and everything was fine from there. The No. 01 was on the outside of the No. 21 and I know that the top side is going to carry the speed. So I moved up and was following the No. 01 down the backstretch. The No. 21 felt like he could come up into that hole. There just wasn't enough room. I let off and we still clipped each other and it pushed the fender in.

KNAUS Obviously we were very concerned at that point in time. We didn't exactly know why the fender was rubbing. We couldn't see that he'd gotten together with the No. 21 car. So we didn't know what was going on. We thought maybe something had broken in the chassis or what have you. So we just told him to back off a little and take it easy. He did the right thing by moving up the race track because the car won't travel as much when you go up there. It was the right thing to do. We could have pitted, but I didn't really feel like the tire was going to be the issue. If it was rubbing the topside of the fender, it wasn't enough to hurt the tire itself. It was dramatic.

ON LOOKING OUT FOR THE TIRES AND ON THE POINTS DEDUCTION FROM NASCAR ABOUT KEEPING YOUR PRESSURES RIGHT

KNAUS Yeah, Mr. Hendrick actually told me about the points issue and if you weren't inflated enough to Goodyear's recommended pressure. We didn't have an issue with that because we were well above that all day long. If there was an issue, it wouldn't have been a result of low air pressure. It would have been an actual tire or surface problem. We opted the majority of the day to run 7th, 8th, or 9th and let some of those other guys take off. We decided to chase the rabbit. We could have easily gone up there and raced with those guys, but it just was not time. The guys who were going fast were the ones having tire issues. Our plan from the very beginning was just to maintain on the lead lap until halfway and they try to get further up there. But we had some issue creep up that even put us further in the back with the alternator and changing the battery.

CAN YOU EXPLAIN PRECISELY WHAT WAS GOING ON WITH THE ALTERNATOR AND THE BATTERIES?

KNAUS No, not yet. I've got to look at it. It wasn't working. I don't really know what was going on. I know the No. 01 and No. 18 had some problems today. I don't know. We've got to get home and take a look at it. We were running very low. Since we were back so far, we decided to change the batteries and make sure we didn't have an issue. But the batteries we took out of the car were actually in pretty decent shape and we could have left them in there. It was better to be safe than sorry.

ON THE ROUSH MANIFEST:

HENDRICK I knew this was going to come up when I came in here. I think Jack is making a case on his situation and maybe our situation and the multi-car team situation. I haven't seen anything in writing (from NASCAR) and what the plan really is. So I'm just really going to try and worry about winning this championship and not really focus on that.

DID NASCAR TELL YOU PERSONALLY THAT THERE WOULD BE PENALTIES IF TIRES WEREN'T PROPERLY INFLATED, DID NASCAR TELL YOU AN EXACT NUMBER OF POINTS OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT?

HENDRICK Jim Hunter walked in our pits and said we're going to check the tire pressures. What I didn't understand in the beginning was if you blow a tire and hit the wall and your pressures were too low, we're going to take points. And I thought, well how are you going to check pressures in a right front after the wreck. So then we were told they were coming through checking them and if your pressures were too low that they could take points.

WERE THEY SPECIFIC ON THE NUMBER OF POINTS?

HENDRICK No, they didn't really say.

WITH THE TIRES FAILURES AND THE TRACK SURFACE, DID YOU FEEL IT WAS SAFE TO RACE?

JOHNSON

The track was predictable and easy to drive from my standpoint inside the car. We started the first run and I was working my way through traffic and wasn't abusing the car. We pulled those tires off the car and Chad told me I needed to take care of the right rear because it was blistering. And I was tight on that run. I was wondering how in the world could I be hurting a tire right now? From inside the cockpit -- and even last night in the Busch car when I blew a right front -- I didn't feel anything wrong going on or bad taking place that would cause a tire to go. So there really a lot of warning for the driver if you're being too abusive or not. There are a lot of theories going around as to why and how. The big thing I think as a team is we can see is that the tires are building so much heat from being so hard that the heat is becoming an issue from running that hard.

ON NASCAR MANDATING PRESSURES DURING A RACE

KNAUS Do you not see what I go through every week? They tell me what shocks and body and springs and everything else. It's not a big deal. They have to do, in the interest of safety, what they deem necessary. That's what they did tonight. Maybe there were some people below minimum inflation tonight. If they were, and they had a tire issue, it cures itself. You're only going to go out there a couple of times and have a problem. They do what they do to make sure we have a safe and competitive race and that the drivers are able to walk away.

-gm racing-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jimmie Johnson , Chad Knaus , Jim Hunter