JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWES CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Daytona International Speedway and discussed potential changes to the Chase, the restrictor plate, racing on Sunday, and more. THERE'S BEEN TALK OF POTENTIAL CHANGES TO THE...
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWES CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Daytona International Speedway and discussed potential changes to the Chase, the restrictor plate, racing on Sunday, and more.
THERE'S BEEN TALK OF POTENTIAL CHANGES TO THE CHASE FORMAT. FROM YOUR CONVERSATIONS WITH NASCAR, WHAT HAVE YOU TOLD THEM THAT YOU'D LIKE TO SEE AND DO YOU THINK THERE SHOULD BE ANY CHANGES? "From my conversations with them, they are very serious about making some changes. I don't know what that exactly looks like because we've talked about minor changes all the way to some very extreme options that they are considering. I really don't know where it's going to end up. I know that their number one goal is to make it entertaining and exciting. The thing I keep questioning them on is making sure that it follows the history of our sport and a champion is crowned in a way that respects the past and past champions. Some of the ideas I've heard are absolutely crazy--it's more of a craps shoot than anything. That side of it if it comes down to it, I wouldn't agree with, but it's not my series and I don't get to make those decisions, so we'll just role with it and see what happens."
IF IT INVOLVES ELIMINATIONS OR DIFFERENT POINT SYSTEMS, AS LONG AS IT FALLS UNDER THOSE PERIMETERS WOULD YOU BE OK WITH THAT? "I don't mind some type of elimination process, but I think that when you come down to crowning the champion, it can't be about one race and that option has been thrown around as well. I just think that's unfair. I think it takes away from the history of our sport and we're already down to 10 races to crown a champion, to have things reset after nine and winner take all--I just don't think it reflects and respects what our sport is about. But I'm just one opinion; I'm sure there are many other out there."
WHAT IS YOUR OPINION OF THE WINNER TAKES IT ALL UNDER THE CURRENT FORMAT? "What's funny is that when I brought up my points of view they all busted into laughter saying, 'We expected this out of you.' I was ok, 'No, no, that's fine. I'll race any way.' I had a real hard time with the Chase in general, because I felt like it took away from what Earnhardt did and what Petty did, but I know that the times are changing and we need to stay current with it. I'm hopeful that it's not as extreme as they're talking about."
YOU'RE COMING IN HERE ON A ROLL WITH TWO STRAIGHT--THAT'S PRETTY GOOD. "Yeah, we've had good races, bad races; we've worked real hard over the years to look at the summer months and make them strong for us because it's been kind of a weak spot. You just never know. A month ago, everyone was saying that the 48 was in a slump and now we're on top of the world and living it as I have. We've just been going to work every day, some weekends are better than others; it's just life. We're happy where we're at. We're happy to have five wins and there's just a lot of racing left to get ready for the Chase. We hope that we can get on a roll like this in the Chase and fight for the championship."
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE NEW RESTRICTOR PLATE--GOOD, BAD, INDIFFERENT? "So far I've liked it. From what I have seen so far, it has been really good and here the tires are such a premium, I think that the bigger plate as tires go away and fall off and you have to let off, they'll allow the cars to suck back up and stay in the draft and you create some passing opportunities. So I think the larger plate is going to be a great fit for this race."
DO YOU HAVE ANY CONCERNS ABOUT THE PATCH GIVING WAY AND THE TRACK HOLDING UP AS THE RACE GOES ON? "No, no more than I would for any other race track. The track seems to be in good shape. I can visibly see the patch, but I can't tell anything going through it. That part of the track has always been a place where the cars made contact with the road because it's on an area where there is a big bump and the cars go into travel and then the chassis crashes in the ground there. The chassis still does hit there, but it's done that ever since I've ever driven a car here. I think they did a great job patching it and I don't see any reason why we'd have a problem here in the race."
JIMMIE WITH HOW TOUGH THE LAST TWO MONTHS HAVE BEEN FOR YOU, DOES THAT SHOW JUST HOW IMPORTANT IT IS TO KEEP COMPETING OVER THE NEXT TWO MONTHS UNTIL THE CHASE? "Yeah, it's been an interesting start to the season. At times the team has had magic working and can accumulate a lot of points, and things just seem to change quickly. Although, Harvick has been consistent and has done a good job there. You look at the dominance of the 11 at times, and then ours, and the 18 has been on a hot streak a few different times, it's going to be an exciting Chase. I don't think there is a clear-cut favorite at this point for the championship."
JIMMIE, WHEN YOU GUYS WERE GOING THROUGH YOUR SLUMP, HOW DO YOU REGROUP AS A TEAM AND WHAT WERE YOU TELLING EACH OTHER, TO WHAT WERE YOU WORKING ON, WERE YOU GETTING READY FOR THE CHASE, WHAT WERE YOU GUYS GOING THROUGH AS YOU WERE TRYING TO GET BACK TO THE WINNER'S CIRCLE? "We were just going back to work. I know a lot of people called it a slump but I don't call it a slump. I mean you are going to have good weeks, bad weeks, good months, bad months, and in this sport it is just so competitive that things can pass you up and you can get behind and you have to close the gap. We went through that and I still feel like we need to find a little more speed but the big difference for me is that I started trying to do things that I shouldn't have been doing in the car. I tried to bridge the gap when I thought I could tend to it on the track and I made some mistakes and on top of the mistake or two that I made at the Charlotte races, I made two of them between the All-Star one and the 600. And you look at Darlington and just the bad luck that I had and you never think that is going to happen.
"At Dover, we dominated the race and get in trouble for speeding by 900ths of a mile per hour...........I will take that mistake there but it is what it is. I know a lot of people made it up to be a slump but at the end of the day, this is professional sports and it's not easy and you are going to fight back from things from time to time and its amazing to me that to think in three weeks amount of time to see everyone saying that we went from slump, slump, slump to dominance and I am like 'where were you guys three weeks ago?' It's just wild to see how fast it can change in everyone's mind."
REGARDING THE MISTAKES AT DOVER HOW DOES SOMEONE GET IN A FOUR TIME CHAMPION'S MIND? "I am human just like everyone else and its wild to watch things develop and comments and headlines and just the question you asked about getting in my head. I get in my own head and get lost in my own thoughts and I am just like anyone else and I find that our team does a very good job on focusing on what the job is and we each have confidence in our own abilities for our given spots on the race team and we enjoy doing that job and we fall into it and its what I look forward to each week and there is usually a lot of hype one way or another coming into an event and emotionally you can get attached to things and get distracted. But I know when I get into that race car what my job is and how to do it. And I find a lot of confidence in that and the best thing to do after a bad weekend is to get back in the car and go back to work and move on to the next thing and unfortunately sometimes its 7 days until you do it again. And after you win, you want two months off so you can relish in what happened. But there is always next week and you just show up and get back to work."
WHEN YOU GO THROUGH THINGS LIKE THAT WHO LEVELS IT OUT FOR YOU? DOES THE GROUP GET TOGETHER OR IS IT CHAD, OR WHO IS IT THAT BRINGS YOU GUYS ALL BACK TO REALITY? "We really all play a role in it. From Mr. Hendrick and his influence on the team, to Chad who is certainly a leader for the team, to myself.........the cool thing over the years that I have seen is that one of us will get out of whack and out of socket and then the other pulls him back in. And that has been a very good combination for Chad and I and I think we handle things differently.
"He is kind of the bad cop and leans on the guys and pushes them and then I come through and am like 'hey guys it's going to be alright, its all good' and I think that works really well. And I think within our race shop and the 24 being there, Steve Letarte has that same role and really helps Chad and is a calming voice for Chad and then you get into our management with Doug Duchardt and Rick Hendrick and its just not one person. It is a team sport and it does take everyone involved to keep the emotions where they need to be."
THE WEATHER LOOKS LIKE IT MIGHT HOLD BUT WHAT IF IT DOESN'T? "I think we would start better than if we would if we qualified because the guys who are solid in points are all in race trim and then you have teams that are trying to qualify to make the show who are taking out everything that they can that would take away horsepower and make the thing drive poorly in the event........they don't care. Their job is to make the event so I think you will see someone you might not expect to see on pole and then the guys you would expect to win the race would be around tenth."
-source: gm racing