Darlington II: Jimmie Johnson qualifying press conference

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: Qualified 2nd: TAKE US THROUGH YOUR LAP. "This is a great effort for the Lowe's team. This has been a track that I've always raced well at and qualified well at, going back to the Busch...

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: Qualified 2nd:

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR LAP.

"This is a great effort for the Lowe's team. This has been a track that I've always raced well at and qualified well at, going back to the Busch Series and coming here in the Winston Cup Series. I'm very excited about today and everything we did. I was so close to Ryan. I left a little on the table in Turn 4 getting back in the gas. I didn't realize it until after I had gotten into the gas. I thought, 'man, there was just a little bit there.' It ended up being that all I needed was just a little bit. Everybody can go through and say that on their laps. I'm very happy. Track position is very important here and we're doing the right things by starting second."

YOU HEAR THE OLD VETERANS TELLING THESE WAR STORIES. DO YOU YOUNGER DRIVERS APPRECIATE OF WHAT THEY WENT THROUGH?

"I think there's a mixed bag on that. There are a lot of things that went on when I was up to six years old that there's no way I can appreciate or remember. I know the names, know who they are and respect what they've done, but some of that is before my time. To hear the stories, that's amazing stuff. In the future, with where Winston Cup racing is going, the names and drivers that are here, the stories will be relative down the road. That's why our sport is as strong as it is, because it doesn't matter if it was 25 years ago or today. Look at what happened with Kurt Busch and Ricky Craven here earlier this year. You're going to have great racing."

DO YOU THINK TRADITION MEANS THAT MUCH OR IS IT JUST ANOTHER RACE?

"From my perspective, Labor Day and all these other holidays we have, I've kind of forgotten about in general, with the schedule that we have. Not being here and not racing on Monday as they did in the past. Being a part of the Southern 500 as the veterans have, it doesn't have the same thing to the younger guys that are coming into the sport. We just haven't had the chance to be around it and to be a part of it. It's not that we don't respect it, it's just we've not been around it enough to form that respect. I do respect everything about this track and the minute you let your guard down, it's going to eat you up. That's what we all know about the place."

YOU AND RYAN HAVE BEEN FREQUENT RIVALS THROUGH YOUR ROOKIE YEAR AND PRETTY GOOD FRIENDS NOW. IS THERE A RIVALRY?

"I think there's a rivalry between all of us out there. I think it's neat when you have different guys that you get along with, you can hang out with and race side-by-side with and have a good time racing and being competitive and having that rivalry. Ryan and I have a little more defined rivalry due to the fact that we both ran for Raybestos Rookie of the Year last year. It's a little more defined in that respect. He 's tough and is going to be tough for a long time. We're very close in age and we're going to be a thorn in each other's side for a long time."

ARE THE PATCHES IN THE CORNERS ROUGH?

"It's pretty similar. Jeff [Gordon] went out and made a race run and he said that where the patches were, there was grip to be found there. You'll slide into the corner with a certain handle on the car and knowing where you're going to end up. Then you drive across this patch that has a bunch of grip and it grabs the car and turns it away from the wall. He said that it was a handful, real loose. You have the car set up, and your line and your rhythm set up for one thing and then you hit the patch, get a lot of grip and it's upsetting the car a lot."

LABOR DAY WEEKEND NEXT YEAR WILL BE AT A TRACK NEAR YOUR HOME. WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT?

"I haven't really thought about that, to be honest with you. The way the schedule goes and what goes on and holidays that come and go, I really don't pay any attention to it. It's just another race weekend and I'm going to have to be on a long flight to the West Coast just like everybody else."

HOW SLICK IS IT?

"You're driving at the edge of traction the whole time, and we could be doing that at 100 miles per hour or 190. It's a challenge to us. We have our hands full inside the car. Being on this track versus another track, it is more work here because the tires fall off so much. The thing that carries over is the consistency and how long the car stays fast. You feel like you're going 300 miles per hour and you're really running half the speed you were at the beginning."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kurt Busch , Jimmie Johnson , Ricky Craven