Chicagoland: Johnson - Thursday media visit

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Chicagoland Speedway and discussed the ESPY Awards, the season to date, investments, funny or die video, and more. TALK ABOUT BEING NOMINATED FOR TWO ESPY AWARDS: "I think...

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Chicagoland Speedway and discussed the ESPY Awards, the season to date, investments, funny or die video, and more.

TALK ABOUT BEING NOMINATED FOR TWO ESPY AWARDS: "I think it is a great honor to be a part of that. I think it says a lot for our sport in the fact that a driver from our sport is being nominated as potentially Male Athlete of the Year. I am really excited about it. I am hopeful that our fan base gets involved and is able to show their strength and power in numbers and places a lot of votes and hopefully has me as the Male Athlete of the Year. I think it has been a combination of the last three seasons and what we have done has kind of led to the nomination and being able to back it up last year under the tough circumstances. We had a good battle with Carl (Edwards) and all that stuff. Very excited about it. We will see what happens. The Driver of Year, I was able to win that on our last year. That is extremely special in its own right with all the great racers that were up for the nomination. Guys that won the Indianapolis 500 and variety of drivers from around the country and world. Just cool stuff. Very excited about it and hope things go our way."

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON YOUR SEASON THIS YEAR GOING FOR YOUR FOURTH STRAIGHT TITLE AND WHAT IS IT GOING TO TAKE TO WIN IT? "We're really doing things right. Lot of speed in our cars. Still made a few mistakes on pit road which I have to quit doing that and taking ourselves out of contention at times. I think as a whole, we are in great shape. It really boils down to those 10 races. Our world as a team and driver changes in those 10 and right now we are all just trying to make sure that our pit stops are right. Our cars are right. Trying to get wins for those 10 bonus points. Based on the past four or five years I have been in the Chase, we have to be ready for that 10 race stretch and everything that comes at you. You are going to be challenged in all fronts. You need to make sure you are well rested, focused and ready to grind it out for 10 weeks. Just trying to get all the mental aspects in place. I think we are there on a technology standpoint. We'll be ready for it when September gets here."

WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU GUYS HAVE HAD AN ADVANTAGE THIS YEAR? "I think we have been real consistent. There have been tracks where we had an advantage. I think at Dover, it has been a while since we won at Dover and things worked out right there for us. Michigan we were in position to win and that isn't one of our best tracks. I think we are getting smarter on some tracks but at the same time our baseline of where we start has been pretty close to the top. When we get things right, we can have a car that will dominate and win the race. When we have an off day, it is not all that bad. So that is really what has helped. If you look at the top-threes and top-fives for Tony (Stewart) and myself. It is a lot of numbers, especially for the No. 14. For a while there, he finished second and third about every week, that is where the strength is with our teams."

KURT BUSCH HAS SAID THAT WITH THE COT, THEY ARE BACK TO BUILDING A BUNCH OF DIFFERENT CARS ALMOST AS MANY IN THEIR FLEET AS THEY HAD WITH THE OLD STYLE CAR, ARE YOU GUYS DOING THE SAME THING? "From our standpoints, yes we are always learning things about the cars and figuring out how to make them lighter and then put lead in them. Some new ideas come along. It is just to me kind of a natural evolution. I don't think you can ever, unless the cars are a spec chassis and body and you can't touch them, we are always going to get smarter and develop them. We've been a little behind. I've torn up some cars through the course of the year so we have been really trying to catch up more than anything. I haven't seen an abundance of cars in our shop. We've been just trying to fix the stuff I keep crashing."

WHEN YOU COMPARE THIS SEASON TO THE PAST THREE CHAMPIONSHIP YEARS, IS THERE A LIST OF THINGS TO PUT YOU IN THE SAME POSITION TO WIN AGAIN? "I can say that so far, having the consistent car to work from when you show up at each type of race track is really key. Last year we did not have that at the start of the season. Luckily we could test and were able to get back on track. This year, there are times where we have maybe been a little bit behind, didn't have the right setup, but we weren't that far off. I feel like we are in a much better position than we were last. Again, when you get in to those final 10 races, the world changes for the guys in the Chase. The pressure, I mean every lap you make on the track, you are worried about the ultimate goal. Qualifying, race, every pit stop. It is just a different feel to it. I'm not in that mode yet. We are still trying to refine our cars and think get a little stronger on the mental times. I have made plenty of mistakes that is just not me. On pit road making those kinds of mistakes. We are trying to make our pit stops as good as we can. ?That is the area we are focusing on this year. Last year, we had that part covered but we didn't have the speed in the cars, so it is kind of a flip-flop year. I feel better knowing we have the technology and it is just about all of us getting in a rhythm and hitting our stride."

HAVE YOU BEEN IN A POSITION TO DEFEND NASCAR'S FOCUS ON GREEN INITIATIVES? "No, I haven't been in a position to defend, but I do think that it's great that we're looking in these areas on how to make a difference. I think that motorsports, the reason motorsports came about was to develop things for the manufacturers and I think that racing is a great proving ground for safety, for new technology that can help and country and world to go green. So I'm excited to see new things coming along and hope there are many more to follow and really use motorsports as a testing program for that. I think that makes us valuable to the manufacturers and really to the government, and the government is running the manufacturers right now. So we need to make sure that we are on top of those trends and can hopefully lead the way and prove that racing is needed in that area. I think from a safety standpoint, we've helped them a lot from what we've learned in crash tests to develop that end of the street cars and passenger cars that we drive today. I know its coming. I haven't really been put on the spot anywhere. I guess I'm ready with that response from the safety standpoint, that look, motorsports has made every day passenger travel safer than it would be if it wasn't here."

HAVE YOU DONE ANYTHING IN YOUR PERSONAL LIFE TO BE MORE ENVIRONMENTALLY CONSCIOUS? "Definitely. I was watching something on TV the other day where the guy was talking about paper towel use and how every time you wash your hands you use a paper towel and there were some statistics they showed on that. So now, I'm not using paper towels as much anymore, especially when I wash my hands. I have a towel I lay on the sink. My wife doesn't like. She's like why is this sitting out. Well, it's to like dry my hands and I explain myself. And she's like that's a good idea. Also I was recently reading about plastic bottles. There are so many water bottles and stuff that we use, that plastic bottles are an issue. So I just have one trusty plastic bottle that I carry as long as I can, and just keep filling it up through my refrigerator instead of pulling a new bottle of water out of the 'fridge. So I do stupid little things like that, up to my Hybrid Tahoe. Unfortunately there are not a lot of stations to fill it up with E-85. But I'm looking in that area and am trying to do everything I can to make a difference."

HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN THE FUNNY OR DIE VIDEO, AND ARE YOU FUNNY? "That's for everybody to decide, I guess (laughs). There was an opportunity that came through the agency I work with. It's just something different to do. They had a lot of fun trying to paint a totally different picture of me. It's basically a self-help DVD set to where you can do things for affirmation throughout the day to make yourself feel good about winning and being a winner. I played football with two little kids and I, of course have a pro football player Jason Seymour playing with me to make sure that we win. I arm wrestle and old man and I use both hands to ensure a solid victory. I have cheerleaders following me around and telling me I'm doing a great job at all points in the video. So it's just a bunch of stupid stuff that makes it funny and different. I don't claim to be a comedian, and I'm sure there are funnier pieces that run on there, but it's had a very warm reception and it was fun to do. Nick Lachey came out and did a spot with us as well. It was something outside of my comfort zone and really a lot of fun to do. Ultimately, the fans will decide of the website if it's funny or if it should die."

DO YOU HAVE BUSINESSES AND/OR INVESTMENTS AWAY FROM THE TRACK? "I definitely have investments. I'm probably more conservative than most. I feel that I take a lot of risk in my day-to-day job in life. There is not really a need to risk the financial aspect of it. So, I definitely have real estate things in play. I'm not a big fan of the stock market and getting caught up in that. There are ways you can generate a lot of wealth, but at the same time a lot of people are beat up pretty bad from what's gone on over the last six or eight months. I'm really conservative. I have a great team of people who work with me that evaluate the opportunities that come in. We've made some moves on things. They primarily seem to be real-estate based. That's just really the safest. I like to have something that I own and if everything goes bad, I can go over there and there's my piece of dirt and a building. There's something there."

ON JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, HAVE YOU SEEN AN IMPROVEMENT THERE AND WHAT KIND OF THREAT DO YOU PERCEIVE HIM TO BE? "Yeah, I see that whole organization improving. They're cars are driving better. It looks like they have more power. All of that has put Juan in a really good situation where he can let the car kind of do the work. In the past, he's been extremely aggressive on track. And when you drive at 10-tenths all the time, mistakes happen and you get caught up in stuff. Right now, he can drive at a reasonable pace and have great control of his car and deliver great finishes week after week. So, I think what's led to that is better equipment and better cars. The cars are faster. He's making a lot of great decisions on track. Whoever is in that Chase, you've got to be concerned and worried about it. And if he's in the Chase, I'm definitely going to be concerned."

IS HE A PARTICULAR THREAT AT INDY BECAUSE OF HIS TRACK EXPERIENCE? 'I don't think so. The cars are so different. It can't hurt that he knows the race track. I could be wrong, but I think they are just so different that it doesn't help."

-credit: gm racing

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Series NASCAR Cup