Daytona II: Johnson - Thursday media visit

Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Monte Carlo SS, met with members of the media at Daytona International Speedway. He discussed racing a Pontiac Daytona Prototype here, his first experience at Daytona International Speedway, meeting with other Daytona...

Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Monte Carlo SS, met with members of the media at Daytona International Speedway. He discussed racing a Pontiac Daytona Prototype here, his first experience at Daytona International Speedway, meeting with other Daytona 500 winners this morning, his physical fitness routine and other topics. An audio file of this recording can be downloaded by clicking the link below.

ON BEING BACK AT DAYTONA: "It's great to be back. I can say from being in that prototype, I had no idea how hot it could be in a race car. I get out and it's not too bad but inside that Daytona prototype, it's one of the hottest things I've ever been in so I'm trying to get some Gatorade in me and some stuff. My voice is a little high because I just got out of the car after practice and qualifying. Just a great experience there and I'm looking forward to getting on track with the Cup car. We didn't have the best Daytona 500. We didn't have the speed that we wanted so we've worked on some things and hopefully will have a car that will handle a lot better especially with this hotter weather and the track conditions that we see here in July. It's important to have a good driving race car."

ARE YOU SURPRISED AT HOW BIG A STORY HAS DEVELOPED OVER WHERE THE CREW CHIEFS ARE WHEN THEY'RE SUSPENDED? "Yeah, in a lot ways I am but then in other ways it's a story and it's what's going on and there's questions about it so I think as a sport we're all learning a lot and we're learning through a variety of different directions kind of what's right and wrong and just going through the motions here. I fortunately wasn't in Charlotte this week. I was up north having some fun with some friends at the beach, just chilling. I played some golf so I've luckily been out of the scene but I had some phone calls from Mr. Hendrick and from Chad and I understand that it was quite crazy in the Charlotte area relative to our sport. We'll do whatever we're instructed to do but we'd be foolish to not try to maximize and go right to the edge of the rules just like we do with the race car in this situation with the crew chiefs and we'll do everything that we can and everything we're allowed t o. That's just kind of the way it is."

ON IF NASCAR HAS TOLD HIM ANYTHING DIFFERENT ABOUT WHERE CHAD KNAUS CAN BE THIS WEEKEND: "As far as Chad, I've been so far out of the loop this week with the little vacation that I had and then coming in and getting in the prototype that I'm not sure where that whole situation stands and we'll just do exactly as we're instructed and take that from there with Chad and Steve and the situation that we're in there."

ON WHAT IT WAS LIKE TO BE WITH THE FORMER DAYTONA 500 CHAMPIONS THIS MORNING: "With this morning I was upset in a small way that I couldn't stick around and enjoy that experience any longer. I had to go get in the prototype for practice and to have all of those personalities and champions and heroes of mine growing up standing in the same room and as a young driver being acknowledged by a Mario Andretti and congratulated on my season, Foyt and those guys, that was really, really cool and I wish could have had some more time in there this morning."

ON HAVING A STRONG START TO HIS SEASON AND WHAT HE THINKS THE DIFFERENCE HAS BEEN OVER THE LAST RACES WHERE HE HAD SOME STRUGGLES AND WHAT ADJUSTMENTS HE FEELS HE NEEDS TO MAKE STARTING THIS WEEKEND: "Well we've been running well. There's some tracks in there where we had maybe not our best track like Sonoma but we still got out of there with a decent finish. When I think of Dover, we were running second and had a flat. I think at Pocono we were in the top 10 and had a flat so we've recognized this as a team and we're not finishing where we want and we're not finishing like we did at the start of the season but it's been crazy circumstances. Some of it's been fuel mileage, some of it's been those two flat tires, so we feel that we're doing the right things. We still feel that we have that speed that we did at the beginning of the season even though the competition I feel has caught up some and maybe some other teams are showing a little more muscle right now but we're right t here with them and last week was a great finish for us because we just needed to get back in to top 10s and top fives. We again had the speed but just haven't been there at the end when the checkered fell and last weekend was a step in the right direction for that."

ON HIS REACTION THE FIRST TIME HE CAME TO AND RACED AT DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY: "First time I came in, a lot like the other comments, just amazed by the size of the speedway. I'm sure everybody has done it but I hadn't been to a big track and experienced this yet and I went on the back straightaway and sat up against the fence and watched the cars go by in a pack and just could not believe the wind and the noise and the way the cars were thundering by.

"As far as my first time on track, my crew chief when I left, there's never been a race track that I've been on where you run wide open all the way around it especially your first lap going out. Racing motorcross my dad always beat it into my head, don't go out and try to jump all the jumps first lap. Learn the track. Find out where everything is. Never hit the track 100 percent. That's the way I was raised and I come here, one of the fastest tracks we go to, and my crew chief is saying is you better hold it wide open. I've got a computer that's going to tell me if you don't and I'm like this is so backwards from how I've been raised. One car by itself out there is really not fast. When you get the rest of the group things really pick up."

ON THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RUNNING THE DAYTONA PROTOTYPE HERE IN JANUARY VERSUS JULY: "The car that I'm in, I think they've improved their cars, so far as the grip level on the track, I'm not very familiar with the setup and what the differences may be from the (Rolex) 24 until now but the car that I'm in was the same car as the 24. It is so much faster. They've done a lot great work to that car to pick it up and I think it showed today going out there and qualifying second and running as well as we have through all the practice sessions. The biggest difference is the temperature from the driver's standpoint; it is really hot in those cars."

DO YOU KNOW IF CHAD KNAUS WILL BE HERE AND CHAD'S ROLE FOR THIS WEEKEND: "No, neither Chad or Stevie will be here. They're getting the cars ready for Chicago and Indy and all that stuff so they're at home working away. Hopefully they'll work on the weekends and find us some speed."

ON HIS PHYSICAL PREPARATIONS HE DOES: "It changes per week but I try to really get some miles on foot, anywhere from 10 to 15 miles a week on foot with two or three days of weightlifting. You can tell I'm a little buff, not, but I try (laughs). I love to cycle and if I'm home in Charlotte I can usually spend a lot more time working out but on the road you can really just take your running shoes and it's tough but cycling is great. I can get probably 80 to 100 miles in a week on a bicycle with some guys and it really helps for the duration of time that you find yourself in a race car and also with the heat and hydration aspect. It's great training mentally, physically and really is good for racing."

ON IF THERE ARE ANY SYNERGIES HE DRAWS WITH DRIVING THE DAYTONA PROTOTYPE WITH THE WING AND SPLITTER COMPARED TO THE IMPALA SS HE DROVE AT SONOMA: "I think the experience with the 24 Hours helped me going into the Car of Tomorrow, just in terms of terminology and understanding some basics with it. Granted we can't really adjust the splitter or the wing on the Cup car, I'm not sure you can on the prototypes, but the way you use the curbs and things like that have helped me with the Daytona prototype experience moving into the Car of Tomorrow."

ON IF HE IS SURPRISED TONY STEWART HASN'T WON YET THIS SEASON AND WHAT HE EXPECTS FROM HIM THIS WEEKEND: "I didn't realize he hasn't won. I just expect him to win all the time. I am shocked about that to hear that he hasn't won and coming into this race we'd be foolish not to consider him the favorite especially with how strong he was in February and then they always have the magic setup here for the hot summer July race so I think he's probably the favorite going in and we might see him climbing that fence again and doing a stage dive over into the fans."

ON IF IT'S IMPORTANT TO START UP FRONT FOR THIS RACE AND THINGS HE HAS OBSERVED SINCE THE TOP 35 RULE WENT INTO EFFECT: "From my standpoint as a team that is safe in the points, we're just going focus on the way the car drives in race trim and wherever it qualifies it's just kind of how it is. I would expect especially with so many teams that aren't guaranteed a starting spot, I would think that we would qualify 15th to 25th maybe because the teams that have to get in on speed will totally forget handling for the race and work on straight line speed which you can get away with some of that in February but for this July race, the guys that have to qualify, what they're going to do to their cars is really going to make their car unhappy come race time so really their race is Friday or Saturday and then once they get into the race I'm sure they'll be putting spring rubbers in and really working hard to get the car to turn for them."

DID YOU RETIRE YOUR DAYTONA 500 WINNING CAR? HOW MUCH OF A DISADVANTAGE IS IT TO BE WITHOUT THAT CAR FOR A YEAR? "We try to build them the same all the time so we didn't feel like it was a huge disadvantage to our team. It did cause a little bit of work for the guys to go and build a new speedway car but I believe it's sitting at the shop. I don't think we've been back in it yet. I don't think we've had it out. If I can talk Rick into it I'd love to put it in my little toy shed I have but no plans for it yet."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jimmie Johnson , Mario Andretti