JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S/KOBALT TOOLS CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Dover International Speedway and discussed racing at Dover, his Foundation Benefit, the penalty for the No. 33, rules and other topics. Full...
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S/KOBALT TOOLS CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Dover International Speedway and discussed racing at Dover, his Foundation Benefit, the penalty for the No. 33, rules and other topics. Full transcript:
HOW DID PRACTICE GO TODAY? "We'll see how it goes. The track is surprisingly rubbered-up for what we are used to seeing at this point. I think it has thrown a lot of the teams for a little bit of a loop with their setups. We are used to a little bit more of a green race track right now and a track that has a little bit more grip in some respects. Certainly a challenging practice session. Qualifying is going to be interesting. It is only going to get hotter and more slick with the cars that are on the race track. I wouldn't be surprised if we see a couple of cars get turned around in qualifying and make for an exciting qualifying session."
THE CONVERSATION WITH THE DRIVERS IN HERE TODAY HAS CENTERED AROUND THE PENALTY FOR THE NO. 33 CAR-DENNY HAMLIN WAS IN HERE AND SAID HE THAT HE WAS NOT SHOCKED, BECAUSE WORD HAD BEEN AROUND THE GARAGE FOR MONTHS THEY WERE PUSHING IT TOO FAR. YOU HAVE BEEN THROUGH THE WARNING PROCESS, WERE YOU SHOCKED ABOUT THE NO. 33? DID YOU KNOW OR HAD YOU HEARD THAT THEY WERE PUSHING IT? "I heard something after Richmond and frankly after Richmond, the statement that was released, I was excited to hear that because of the situation we were in and people felt that we may have been illegal and NASCAR didn't want to nail us on it...which is complete bs. At the end of the day, NASCAR has made it very clear, to us with what we experienced in Sonoma two years ago maybe and then as the Car of Tomorrow has come along, that there is zero tolerance. It doesn't matter if it only the thickness of a quarter. They don't care. I hate that the No. 33 is in the position but NASCAR has to be consistent with what they do. Zero tolerance is zero tolerance. There is no 'I'm sorry, you are close'. It is black or white. I've experienced it on my own as some other teams have and now the No. 33 is going through it was well. But I didn't not know there were multiple warnings to them. When you are warned, it is kind of a weird situation because as a race team, that is your job to push it right up to the edge. So we've been there before and faced with the decision, you have to back off a little bit. They are warning you, you are too close to the tolerances and with cars that are made of steel that can get bumped around, moved around and for whatever reason, it's contact on track, it's a tow truck, a push truck, whatever it is, you have to leave yourself some room to be on the right side of the line."
IN NASCAR THE PRECEDENT WAS SET LONG AGO THEY WOULD NOT TAKE AWAY WINS, DO YOU AGREE, DISAGREE WITH THAT? DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHY THAT IS? "It is all I have ever know. So with the penalties as stiff as they are now, yes, you do get the trophy and a check mark in the book, but the penalty is so stiff. It's hard to say. The days of just blatantly doing something to get around a rule from NASCAR are far behind us. We are just dealing with very tight tolerances on weekly basis and try to find that advantage you live close to the line. All I have ever known is points and fines and the win stays. So to me, it is something I haven't really thought about and no big deal."
THE TALK ABOUT TWEAKING THE CHASE, NUMBER OF DRIVERS, TRACKS, SYSTEM, WHICH WITH WHAT YOU HAVE DONE OVER THE LAST FOUR YEARS, YOU LIKE IT I WOULD ASSUME, DO YOU SEE SOME TWEAKS IN THE CHASE NEXT YEAR? "There are questions surrounding that all the time and to be honest with you, I don't care what the points system is, how many drivers, what tracks, I will show up and do everything I can to try and win the championship. I could care less. (SMILES) Whatever the scenario is, I'll race it and I feel like our team is strong enough to be competitive in any format."
WHEN CLINT WAS IN HERE EARLIER, HE GAVE A LONG AND SPIRITED DEFENSE OF HIS TEAM AND MENTIONED THAT THERE MAY HAVE BEEN OTHER CARS THAT WERE ILLEGAL AT NEW HAMPSHIRE AND POINTED TO YOU AND DENNY HAMLIN FOR HAVING TO GO THROUGH THE HEIGHT STICKS TWICE. I'M SURE THAT COMES AS A COMPLETE SURPRISE TO YOU, RIGHT? "Man, our car was so illegal, it was ridiculous, I'm surprised it even passed period. (SMILED AND SAID JOKINGLY) I didn't even know, I heard about that. I just saw something where he was holding up a quarter. Man, I don't know what goes on through tech, I didn't even know our car was in question or had to go through the sticks twice. But, I don't care. I just drive the car. Show up with my helmet and go. I have been nailed plenty of time. Let's just stir things up...NASCAR gave the No. 11 and the No. 48 a little slack and let us roll through and wanted to nail the No. 33...we'll just take that angle and have some fun with it.. Let's just play into it because regardless of what I say, people are going to believe that. So, the hell with it, let's just ride it."
WHEN GOING THE FEELING OF GOING BACK HOME TO CALIFORNIA AND WHAT IS GOING TO BE ON YOUR SCHEDULE WHEN YOU GO BACK FOR IN A COUPLE OF WEEKS? "Excited to go back. We have our Jimmie Johnson Foundation major fund raiser that takes place in my hometown, the area of my hometown I should say. We do a lot of great things, raise some money for a variety of things. This year it is again going to be a grant system for school districts in the area. I'm very excited to go back although there is a lot of work for me going home for the golf tournament and the dinner that is beforehand. But I really enjoy the race track. I enjoy the weather, the atmosphere, In N Out Burger, Mexican restaurants I am fond of in the area. It is always good to go home. There is a certain feeling about it. I won my first race there. My 48th race there and there are a lot of cool things about that race track for me. Oh yea, fish tacos, lots of lime. Post race at a Corona to the mix and we are in good shape."
WHEN YOU LOOK AT CLINT AS A COMPETITOR ON THE TRACK, DO YOU LOOK AT HIM AS A GUY THAT IS 35 POINTS OUT OF THE LEAD OR A GUY THAT IS 185 POINTS OUT? "Where they are mathematically is kind of where they are. Clint, aside from all the other discussions earlier and having fun with saying our cars are illegal and they just want to nail the No. 33, he and that team have done an amazing job and they are a very serious threat to the championship. Again, you have to go back to the deal that there is zero tolerance with this new car. Opinions can be formed in all different direction, but there is zero tolerance with the COT and I learned that first hand. So, all that said, Clint and that team are a serious threat. Clint has had a lot of momentum on his side and running really strong leading up to the New Hampshire race. They are in a deep hole, we will just have to see how it plays out for them. But, he and his team are doing a great job."
HAVE YOU GOT A TRACK THAT YOU KIND OF CONSIDER IS KIND OF TOUGH FOR YOU IN THE CHASE AND YOU HAVE TO GET THROUGH? "In the last few years, Atlanta has been that track for me, when I think about a track and performance. But its not in the Chase any longer. Looking forward, I don't think I have an option. I think my bad race is hopefully behind me in New Hampshire which I anticipated finishing a lot better in. We had some troubles on the short run, but we had a good car and I got up to the front from starting 25th. Was running well, we unfortunately had a problem with a right front wheel. I guess looking forward, all nine need to be good for me with the position I am in right now."
TALK ABOUT GOING TO KANSAS: "For a mile-and-a-half, I think that Chicago and Kansas are pretty similar. In years past, mile-and-a-halfs have been our bread and butter and have been really good for us. And Kansas has a really cool transition in and off the corners where you can run second and third lane. It is pretty friendly and you can search around and try to find a line. The asphalt has aged pretty quick there too which has allowed us to run multiple lanes and move around. So in general, it is a track with options. For a mile-and-a-half race track, it has a lot of options and I have enjoyed racing there over the years and have been able to get a win there."
-source: gm racing