Jimmie Johnson Finishes Second at Charlotte and Pads Point Lead in NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Standings JIMMIE JOHNSON , NO. 48 LOWE'S MONTE CARLO SS - Finished 2nd: ON HIS RUN: "The crew chiefs had to adjust tire pressures and set the cars...
Jimmie Johnson Finishes Second at Charlotte and Pads Point Lead in NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Standings
JIMMIE JOHNSON , NO. 48 LOWE'S MONTE CARLO SS - Finished 2nd:
ON HIS RUN:
"The crew chiefs had to adjust tire pressures and set the cars up to really be more of a sprint car than necessarily a long run car. It's a night when we did a good job in making the right adjustments. We started the race much better than I thought we were going to. I expected it to be really, really loose. We had a lot of grip in the car and I was up there battling for the lead. As the night went on, we didn't stay on top of the adjustments. We threw a lot at it. We had a good idea of what to do but the car just wasn't responding like it did in the All-Star race for us. We didn't get it adjusted like we needed it to but still kind of holding our own with (race winner) Kasey (Kahne) there at the end. I just couldn't catch him. I spent a lot of time racing the No. 99 (Carl Edwards) and using my stuff up a little bit. The way the race ran out, I don't think I would have had a shot at the No. 9 (Kahne) but maybe just been a little bit closer to him."
SECOND PLACE IS NOTHING TO BE DISAPPOINTED ABOUT BUT IT DOES END YOUR WINNING STREAK. IS THERE A SENSE OF DISAPPOINTMENT WITH THAT?
"Maybe a little. As I was chasing Kasey at the end -- and I couldn't catch him -- not necessarily for a streak, I haven't been too worried about stats and stuff over my career so far - but it was mainly about a win. These are races are so tough to win. I've been very lucky to win three this year and an All-Star race. I've had my fair share but you want to be greedy and win as many as you can. In general looking at the streak and looking at the 600-mile race, to win three of them, I've been very fortunate to do that. I've won a couple that I shouldn't have won in a sense. I wasn't the best in the car but at the end of the race I was in the right position at the right time. I also lost one that I remember, my rookie race here where I had the best car and slipped through my pit. It's a weird race, a long race. I'm very proud of the stats that I've had and slightly disappointed that it's come to an end but all in a all a great day in the points and now life is good."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE END WHERE YOU, KASEY KAHNE, CARL EDWARDS AND MATT KENSETH WERE ALL BATTLING FOR THE WIN? DID YOU THINK THAT WHOEVER GOT OUT IN FRONT WOULD WIN?
"That's the way Carl (Edwards) and I were racing. Carl was on the outside. I think I was a little bit better than him but with him on the outside it had me in a situation where I would make my car loose and Kasey got by me on the outside as well. I couldn't believe the speed that Kasey could have at the beginning of the run and still carry that (speed) to the end. If I had my car that secure at the start of a run, I'd be so tight at the end that I wouldn't be competitive at all so those guys did a great job getting the balance right. I spent a little too much time racing the No. 99 (Edwards) getting by him; but it is the closing laps in the race for the second spot, so I don't expect anybody to lay over by any means. I just a lost a little time there and I think that really let Kasey get away and check out."
WHERE DO YOU THINK WE STAND ON THE TIRE ISSUE AND DO YOU THINK IS THE RIGHT SELECTION OF COMPOUND AND CONSTRUCTION?
"It's hard to argue with the fact that we didn't have any tire issues, tires exploding. If we have enough time on the tire, we'll all learn how to adjust our cars to it and put on a good race. Luckily we had a test session, All-Star practice and race, and all of practice this week to get our cars right. We're a lot smarter now. I think we can come back and still make our cars a little bit better on this tire but I'm hopeful that the track loses some grip and we can come back on a softer tire and more than anything come back with the right fuel cell in the car. The fact that the Trucks and the Busch cars ran the big fuel cell and the Cup cars didn't, didn't make a lot of sense to me. I think that would be nice to have that back."
FOR A 600-MILE RACE THAT IS LONG AND GRUELING, DOES IT SEEM SILLY TO HAVE THESE SHORT LITTLE SPRINTS?
"Really we're just creatures of our habitat in a way, whatever we do is what we're used to. We're used 60-something laps here instead of 30-something laps. I think on my side, we set the car up for the longer haul and long runs and as the race went on, we realized we were giving too much up at the beginning and common sense says 'hey, it's half the gasoline and half the run when you bring pressures up.' We really need to focus on sprinting instead of long endurance stuff here, which this race is typically known for. It did change that mindset a little bit. It's just different than what we're used to."
TWO OF YOUR TEAMMATES, JEFF GORDON AND BRIAN VICKERS, HAD RIGHT FRONT BRAKE PROBLEMS. DO YOU KNOW WHAT THAT WAS ABOUT? WAS THAT SOMETHING EVERYBODY WAS SEEING PRACTICE? DID YOU HAVE ANY SIMILAR ISSUES THAT COULD HAVE BIT YOU?
"No. I saw the No. 25 (Vickers) was caught up in something but I didn't see what started it. The No. 24 (Gordon), I saw him smoking for a lap before he hit the wall. I'm not really sure what went on. I'd be surprised that they were using enough brake around here to create a problem. That would shock me. I'm just speculating that it must have been some other issue."
AT ABOUT 100 LAPS TO GO YOU TOLD CHAD KNAUS THAT YOU WEREN'T REALLY SURE HOW TO MAKE IT GO ANY FASTER. DOES THAT SUM UP YOUR NIGHT? IS THIS THE FIRST TIME DURING YOUR STREAK WHERE YOU GUYS COULDN'T QUITE FIND THAT ONE EXTRA THING THAT WOULD WIN IT FOR YOU?
"In some ways I was hoping I would make a wish and he would grant it for me and find me some speed. I think he did make some adjustments that picked up the pace for the car. The problem I had was the valance from the new tires to old tires was so severe that I couldn't go as hard as I needed to off the start. I needed the car good and loose then so that I would be close to neutral at the end. I know that he's paying attention to a lot of other things. From my perspective inside the car, I felt like the car was driving well and I was being greedy and getting all that I could. I just didn't have the speed and was hoping he could dream something up to help me out."
COULD COIL BINDING HAVE BEEN PART OF SOMETHING THAT CAUSED THAT? DID CHAD KNAUS EXPRESS CONCERN THAT THAT COULD HAVE HAPPENED TO YOUR TEAMMATES?
"I don't know much about the set ups of the race car. I just get in and drive. I'm dumb. I don't know a thing."
HOW WOULD YOU GRADE THE RACE TRACK?
"I think the track is good. It's just trying to find the right tire to go with it. Like they were saying, there were some guys up high. I couldn't make it work up there but that's just normal when you have a new track, new asphalt. I definitely think it's going to evolve. I think that the crown that was in the center of the track and some of the bumps that made it tough to run side-by-side here in the past, they are now gone. So as this track ages, I think we'll have very competitive side-by-side racing."
THERE WERE A LARGE AMOUNT OF SUSPENSION FAILURES. DO YOU THINK THAT WAS CAUSED BY THE HARD TIRES PUTTING A LOT OF PRESSURE ON SUSPENSION PARTS?
"I would think that the tire is harder so the grip level is down so you have less g-force on the components personally. I'm not sure that that would contribute to that to be honest with you."
IF YOU WERE GOING TO LOSE TODAY, IS KASEY KAHNE THE BEST GUY TO LOSE TO?
"I'd rather lose to one of my teammates. Yeah, he's a very talented race car driver. I think everybody has seen that and is happy for him. I know last year was a big struggle for him. He and the team and those guys have really got their act together this year and are doing a great job. He had a lot speed tonight. He's had a lot of speed on all the1.5-mile tracks. I think they are going to be a threat for many wins and possibly a championship."
WHAT ELSE HAVE YOU SEEN OUT OF KASEY KAHNE'S TEAM ON WHAT THEY ARE ABLE TO DO AT THE MILE AND A HALF TRACKS?
"The car is very stable and he's able to push just a little bit harder. With the car, the balance is a little more secure and stable underneath him. He has more grip. I'm not exactly sure how to explain it. To watch him go by me on the outside and I feel like I'm running my guts out on the bottom. He drives by me and gets position on the outside of Carl (Edwards) on the same turn. I'm like 'Wow, that car is flying.'
"They just have something figured out. They've been working hard. They had a tough year last year and really have got their act together this year on the mile and a half stuff. Short track-wise I think they still have been pretty competitive. I remember Kasey being competitive at Martinsville and a couple of the other tracks. In general I think those guys have really figured some things out."
WHAT DID YOU FEEL LIKE OF THE NO. 10 CAR'S (SCOTT RIGGS) CHANCES AFTER THE MISTAKE IN THE PITS?
"The run before the pit stop I was just kind of holding my own with him. I couldn't catch him. It was really similar to Kasey (Kahne) that we were just kind of spread out. He was holding the second and a half, two second lead and just kind of stabilized there at that point. The No. 9, No. 19 and the No. 10 tonight all had a lot of speed in them."