Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet ON HIS RACE CAR IN PRACTICE "We've been good. We stumbled on some stuff and had a good go at everything. We're excited. I think we'll be in great shape." HOW DID YOUR TEAMMATES DO IN PRACTICE? "Our ...
Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet
ON HIS RACE CAR IN PRACTICE "We've been good. We stumbled on some stuff and had a good go at everything. We're excited. I think we'll be in great shape."
HOW DID YOUR TEAMMATES DO IN PRACTICE? "Our teammates didn't seem to hit on everything like we did. We're all working in different directions. Jim Long (Terry Labonte's crew chief) was already in the truck and I know Robbie (Loomis, Jeff Gordon's crew chief) had stopped by. I know everybody will get together and I think everybody will be close to what the 48 has."
WHO ELSE LOOKED STRONG IN HAPPY HOUR? "I would say when we look back to the Dover race in the spring, the contenders that were involved then, are still here. I think the 17 has really stepped up their program for Dover. I don't remember them being as strong here in the spring. The Evernham cars are good. It's going to be a good six, eight car shoot out up there where it was a three, four car shoot out in the spring race until the big accident happened. Right now I think it's going to be a pretty good race and I'm excited to see it."
DO YOU HAVE A WINNING RACE CAR? "We're close. This track changes so much. Track position means an awful lot. With the set up that I have right now and the fuel I have in the race car, I definitely feel like we have a car to race up front."
ON GOING TO TALLADEGA BASED ON WHERE HE STANDS IN POINTS "I think it's a love hate deal. If you're fortunate to make it through the weekend without any problems and miss the big one, you're going to buy some freedom, some points and be able to separate yourself. If you're caught up in it, you hate it. You're going to cuss the points system. You're going to cuss going to Talladega with so much on the line. I think that's why there will be more people tuned in and watching than what we had in the past. It's great for everybody up in the stands. For the guys back here in the trenches, it sure cuts down on the sleep that we get."
DO YOU SENSE THINGS HAVE CHANGED AT TALLADEGA AFTER HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS DOMINATED THERE IN THE SPRING? "I think we've definitely closed the gap. At Daytona down there for the 400 handling is so much more of a premium. I think that we found some things to really help the cars handle. Going to Talladega, the 8 and 15, those guys are pretty strong there. Jeff was able to win. I'm not sure how he would have finished under green. The 8 was making its way to the front. It seemed to have the speed in the car there where handling is not as important as Daytona. We're bringing a special car there that we built for there knowing that we don't need the downforce in the car to make it handle. Hopefully we're able to close the gap at the Talladega and be better than the 8."
IS TEAMWORK STILL A BIG PART OF RESTRICTOR PLACE RACING? "It is. In plate racing you see people get upset that they were hung out and they didn't do the right thing. In my opinion you have to manage the space behind your race car and take care of that and give people only one option and that is to follow you. As long as you do that, you're doing fine. If you get hung out, it's your own fault. I'll definitely be looking for my teammates because I know I'll be safer around them. They won't be taking changes. They'll be bump drafting me in the right spots unlike some of the other guys. I'm looking forward to that aspect of it and I think our teammate situation will continue to work as it has. I'm certainly hoping the 24 is lined up behind the 48 to push me to victory like I was able to help him out there in Daytona."
Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet
DID YOU WORK ON ANYTHING SPECIFIC DURING HAPPY HOUR? "We're just trying to learn as much as we can and see what the track is doing and how our car is reacting to different changes. We try to put our best guess and best set up that we feel good about it for tomorrow."
ON TALLADEGA BEING A WILD CARD "We've won the last couple of restrictor plate races so we feel pretty good about it. It's always the case when you go to Talladega and Daytona and you're drafting in restrictor plate racing. There's always that risk that something like that can happen. I think you got to approach every race weekend the same and get all that you can get. If you're going to get caught up in an accident, you're going to get caught up in an accident. To me it doesn't matter whether you're here, Talladega, Martinsville, wherever."
DOES IT FEEL LIKE THE CHASE REALLY STARTS AFTER TALLADEGA? "Not in my opinion. To me it started at New Hampshire and it goes every weekend. Your chances of this championship depend on every weekend's finish. The intensity level is just going to increase after every race and the pressure is going to increase. You're just going to have to kind of wait it out and see where you end up. I still think you have to be consistent week in and week out and put solid finishes together. Wins are certainly important and we're trying to get those but if we can't, we get the next best thing."
ON THE CAR IN HAPPY HOUR "We were decent. We weren't as good as we wanted to be but we're not far enough. We just need to work on timing a bit. Tomorrow of course is always a lot different with race conditions than practice."