AAA 400 Post-Race Transcript An interview with: JIMMIE JOHNSON - Winner CHAD KNAUS - Crew chief THE MODERATOR: We're now joined in the infield media center by today's race winner, driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet, Jimmie Johnson.
AAA 400 Post-Race Transcript
An interview with:
JIMMIE JOHNSON - Winner
CHAD KNAUS - Crew chief
THE MODERATOR: We're now joined in the infield media center by today's race winner, driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet, Jimmie Johnson. Jimmie, currently number two in the Chase, trails Mark Martin by ten points. Jimmie, tell us about your run.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Just a great, great race car. Qualifying Friday went really, really well for us. Yesterday, we can post a decent lap, and I could slide the car around the corner and run some okay times.
But I was a little nervous yesterday after practice, and knew that we needed to build some comfort in the car. If I was in traffic, I was going to really have my hands full.
Last night we went through some options and talked about changes. And after Chad worked on a few ideas and talked with Greg Ives and get back with me later in the night. The suggestions he mentioned just kind of hit something in my stomach, and just hit me inside like that is what I need. That area of the corner, what that adjustment does, that is exactly what I need.
So I woke up this morning very optimistic. Excited, and by about lap two or three I knew we had a very balanced car, and we'd be competitive all day long, get a solid finish. I wasn't sure it would go as well as it did and lead as many laps and all that kind of thing. But I had a good sign, good indication early that we were going to be competitive.
Q: With about 80 or so to go, Jeff was behind you. Were there any concerns at that point? And after he had his difficulty on the pit stop, what was your thought?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, you know, each restart I'm always nervous about that. You know, my car was loose for probably three or four laps, and then I could really get aggressive and pull away from guys.
So I was nervous. Didn't matter who it was. I was just nervous that I could make a mistake, and somebody could get close to my rear bumper and affect the air and move me up and get by. And I was also really nervous about the restart, especially on the older tires.
We were picking up so much of the rubber we put down, and that stuff would stack up on the tire. You could feel your car just shaking going down the straightaways from all the rubber they picked up. So clean up the tires a little bit and do some burnouts and that kind of thing.
So nervous. I thought Jeff was maybe in a really good position when they pitted and he was on four and the rest of us stayed out. A little nervous about that, but then I didn't see him after while, so I felt good about things.
The 17, I didn't see him all day long, and then he showed up at the end. And I thought, Oh, oh. I didn't see much of him to today. So I guess the 17 had me more concerned than anyone because I hadn't seen him all day long.
Q: It's your fifth win here. Your second sweep in this place. Tying you with David Pearson. What is it about this place that you feel happens. Do you think they should give you a golden broom along with the monster trophy?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: No. For me, this is one of the closest tracks to off road racing that we have on the circuit. You're virtually airborne off in each corner, so I think that helps me some and relates back to the vehicles I drove growing up.
This track really favors a loose race car, and just by habit I enjoy a loose race car and that's what I look for every day at each track. So it just really plays into our style.
Early in my career we had it figured out. We kind of lost it for a while, but still ran competitive. And here lately we've narrowed back in on it, and really have the car where it needs to be for me to go fast.
Q: I think a lot of the guys in the garage were pissed off or down of the fact that not only did they not win, but you won, as usual, and kind of kicked their butts. Like you said on the radio, maximum points. Do you feel like this is something you can play with now? Does the fact that you've won so much and you have a chance to kind of damage their morale or kick them when they're down kind of thing, do you hope they do feel defeated by you guys dominating like this?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: You know, I hope it's hopeful, whatever it is. I know some teams are motivated by things like this where we don't perform and come back the following week and step up. Some people it can affect them in a way where it's helpful. I really don't think about those things.
I certainly hope that our performance today scares some people and affects them in a way that benefits us. But, you know, I see guys get so worried about what other people think, what other people say and spend a lot of time in those areas. That's not what works for me.
I tried to play some of those games in 2005 with Tony Stewart. It didn't workout for me. Since that day I realized I just need to run my race, put blinders on. Don't watch television. Don't watch or read any of the trade papers, magazines. Just ignore, ignore, ignore, and focus on my world and what's going on with my race car. That's what I'll do through the rest of the chase.
Q: Kind of along the same lines as Jeff. Obviously, you can win the Championship by winning the race in the last ten races. But does it give you kind of a spark, momentum, an edge, just by getting a win out of the way or getting a win once you've started the Chase?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, it does. Winning a race and putting the team in that situation and the driver, the pressure that comes with the race win and to pull it off, it does a lot for you mentally. It also gives us some direction. This track even though it looks nothing like some of the other tracks we go to, oddly enough the mile and a half when we go to this set up, works at those tracks.
So there are a couple of things there that are very comfortable for us, and from a confidence standpoint, it's the most. We've had a tire changer slip a disc. Jeremy West who had worked for us all season long last year. And had somebody, a new guy, back there changing rears. So they go to victory lane and get that monkey off his back, and the pressure off his back and perform all day long. It's helpful. Just a great shot in the arm for everybody.
Q: Am I correct in thinking that Chad told you he was bringing a new car, and that this car would be even better than the one you had in may? And I'm wondering, did you have any concerns about that because you had an awesome car in may?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: I don't know the answer to that question. I'm not sure if this was the same car or not. I don't think it was a new car. So I'm not really sure. It could have been the same car.
I know the tire test we brought the same car and the same set up. Just really trying to do everything we could to help Goodyear build the best tire to come back with. But after that, I don't know the history of the car I was in today.
Q: Greg Biffle and his post race comments were all up again with the tire test that you and Montoya did. Can you talk about, obviously, you dominated two straight Dover races now. How much different was the set up in this car from what you ran in the Spring and how much of that was stemming from the tire test?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: The tire test, I think there were one or two runs we were able to run on the tire that they had hoped. They had different guys on different schedules. Some guys working on compounds, some guys working on construction. I did all the construction stuff, and I think the 44 and some other guys were on compound.
At the end of the day, like I said in here before the weekend started, Goodyear notifies us as to what tracks we're to tire test at. They asked us to test, we came and did our jobs.
It is beneficial to tire test. I saw some comments from Montoya where he said it's not beneficial. To be honest with you, it does. To get the data set, and the driver being in the car helps.
Nobody spent a lot of time on the tire that we actually came back with. So at the end of the day, we're just doing what we're supposed to do. If it's upsetting guys and they're pissed, so be it. I'm glad they're worried about other things and not the race car.
Nobody heard me complain about Indy and not being able to tire test there, and it definitely hurt us in qualifying. But we just kept our heads down, went to work, made the car right and won the race.
There are some guys that can't help but say stuff time after time. And you guys see it each and every week. So, it is what it is. I guess as we move forward there's been some other tire tests going on, and we can all be mad at somebody else.
Q: You won your first championship midway through the Chase you were 8th or 9th, maybe. You were way behind. When does the Chase actually begin? Is this all kind of posturing right now or does it really get serious say maybe in Fontana coming up, because you've come from way behind to win it, so you know it can go either way?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Emotionally, it probably gets more intense and makes strategies make sense. And it's easier to guess what's going to happen and find a more pivotal race later in the Chase because it's easy to see the goal and what's going on.
But they all pay the same amount of points. Same lead lap. Same guy leads the most, they all pay the same to win. So all ten are the same.
If you get off to the slow start, you have to hope the other guys have a bad luck. If you get off to a quick start, it makes your life a little easier, but it doesn't change the fact that you could have a problem later on in the Chase. So it is ten races and they all pay the same.
Q: Your victory ties you now with Bill Elliot for 14th on the all time list. Can you talk about that? Also you have Buck Baker and Herb Thomas only a couple of wins ahead of you.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: That's so cool. Really, really is. I can remember growing you up watching bill in that No. 9 car. And to be able to be higher in the record books and to be with the greats in the sport, it means a lot to me. It's something that I really never thought would take place, and it's something I'm experiencing now and the emotions and the thoughts that come with it as I'm climbing up through the record books.
So it's a great honor. An exciting thing for me is I feel like there is a lot of racing left in me and a lot of competitive racing. I can keep climbing that ladder and be higher up there in the record books.
Q: Can you talk a couple questions ago about how the Chase goes on, the more intense it gets. You've been through the Chase since its inception. You won the last three championships and have been through that late playoff season intensity. What can you take out of the back of your mind that you know coming up that this is how it's going to be? And does that put your mind at ease when you get there?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: It helps. It helps from a mental standpoint. It helps with confidence. I think it also helps with the decision making process for myself, and even the team and the adjustments we make during the weekend, during the race. So from that are standpoint you think more clearly, but it doesn't guarantee you anything further than that.
It's not to say that a first time chaser can't win this thing. It can happen, and I'm sure at some point it will. I hope it's not this year. I hope it's me. But that stuff helps in the decision making process, and that's as far as it goes.
Continued in part 2