Dover II: Winning team press conference, part 2

Continued from part 1 Q: Next two weeks the bigger tracks. I know you won in Kansas last year. How do you feel like you set up for the next couple of weeks? It seems like this could open the door and you could really make a move, or is it ...

Continued from part 1

Q: Next two weeks the bigger tracks. I know you won in Kansas last year. How do you feel like you set up for the next couple of weeks? It seems like this could open the door and you could really make a move, or is it going to be a tough challenge because of Mark Martin your teammate having the same equipment? And second question, I know the incident was behind you, did you ever get to see the Logano wreck and any reaction to him barrelling over seven times?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: No, I didn't even know he was in that wreck. I saw the 43 on the hook, and I heard the 1 was in it. But I didn't realize all that took place. Wow. Seven times? That's exciting. I can't wait to see the clip. But what was the first part of that thing?

Oh, the other track. I'm sorry. You know, the tracks coming up, I think we have a really good plan in place. Last week and really the last couple of weeks we've been talking about our strategy and the tracks, directions with set up, and things that we're going to try, things for certain tracks and not other tracks.

I feel very confident with the approach we have and the set ups we're going to be taking, the cars we're going to be taking. We're pretty well organized, so hopefully it pays off.

Q: (Indiscernible)?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: I think every team tries to save certain cars for certain tracks and tries to be as organized as possible. I think, again, from being in this position in the past, I think it's helped us make some better decisions and plan a little bit better.

But we've tried this stuff each year, and it's not the efforts anymore. I just think we might be a little bit more organized this year and in a better place. I've been saying it through the summer months and I know our results didn't show it but our car's been much faster this year, start to finish, than the last three years we've been able to win the Championship. So I feel very good about things.

THE MODERATOR: We're joined in the infield media center by Chad Knaus. Chad, your thoughts on your approach today and your view from on top of the box?

CHAD KNAUS: You know, obviously it was a great day for us. Jimmie did a fantastic job. He really manned up today. Did a really, really good job of handling the car. The thing that's always encouraging to me is everybody pictures Jimmie as a calm guy and very fluid with the steering wheel, and very fluid with his inputs.

I think he really enjoys coming here because this is a place you have to get up on the wheel, and chew on the steering wheel and be aggressive, and tell the car what to do.

When we showed up here on Friday, that was his mentality.  We brought a
different race car than what we've had here in the past.  Than what we ran
here in the spring.  You know, it wasn't a new car.  Same car we ran in
Michigan.  Same race car we ran in Michigan and Chicago, and it performed
well in those venues.  We thought we'd bring it here.  We thought it had
some characteristics that we'd liked.  And it was good off the truck.
Jimmie did a fantastic job of qualifying.  What was his driver rating today?

THE MODERATOR: 149 and change. Just missed another perfect driver rating today.

CHAD KNAUS: Oh, see. He did a fantastic job. It was all Jimmie today. Pit crew did a solid job. We did a decent job making adjustments, but it wound up in Jimmie's hands. He made it fantastic.

THE MODERATOR: We'll resume the questions.

Q: Two parts to this. Number one, is this the kind of a win that sends a message to the rest of the chase field? And number two, it's becoming more and more apparent that it's going to be difficult to shake Mark Martin the rest of the way.

JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, definitely. Mark is an amazing driver with a great race team. We're just going to have to do what we can. There is no free lunch in this sport, and especially racing Mark Martin. You're going to have to earn every point. And you know, we've closed up a little bit on him today. There's eight more to go.

I'm excited to see that we've gapped some of the other chase contenders. Might not be exciting for the fans and everybody else, but the bigger gap we can put between us and those guys to single out the cars, the easier my job is. That's what I hope we can keep doing.

But as far as sending a message, I hope it does. I hope people talk about it. Like I is said earlier, I hope people are worried. I hope people are talking about the fact that we tire tested and it's wrong. All these people can get wound up about stuff that really doesn't matter.

We'll keep our heads down. Keep our blinders on, and we'll go to work. At the end of the day, all the talk means nothing. You've still got to show up in Kansas and run that race. That's what we do a good job of staying focused on doing.

Q: I know you had told Jimmie on the radio after the last caution that you thought you were going to be okay. But were you concerned at all about like Tony and a few others that decided to take tires there on the last caution?

CHAD KNAUS: No, I wasn't really worried about those guys. The guys I was worried about would have been say the 5 and the 42, the 17, those guys. I was concerned about them. I knew they were able to run some pretty respectful lap times early on. And we would pull them a little bit as the run went on, but early on, those guys were running some pretty quick lap times.

So I felt comfortable with that. And with the tire that Goodyear brought, it was a fantastic tire. I didn't think that those guys would be able to work their way back you up through the field. You have to realize when you get down to the end of the race and everybody that's in the top 12 in points is in the top 12, it's really difficult to pass those guys. So I didn't think those guys were going to be able to get through the traffic and get up there to us.

Q: Earlier Mark Martin paid really quite a tribute to Jimmie in his interview. He said, you know, having seen him up close he can now understand why he's been so dominant in that he works harder at it than everybody else. So my question is can you at all put meat on the bones of that concept for me and other people who don't necessarily understand what a driver can do outside of driving the car, you know, working hard at it through his performance?

CHAD KNAUS: Yeah, you know, I think a lot of it has to do with the mental state that your driver's in. I think Mark is a great example of that. I think for everything that he says that Jimmie does, I think he does the exact same thing.

You know, Jimmie does a very, very good job of watching what he does, paying attention to the details. Making sure he's feeding the proper comments and debrief. He's making sure he's breaking down the laps. Training, eating right, doing things like that that a lot of other people just aren't willing to give that commitment to or that sacrifice.

So I think that Jimmie being the man that he is, and what it is that he wants to try to do, which is win races and championships, he has foregone a lot of the normal pleasures that somebody would have that's been successful in life.

There's a lot of people out there that they he get to the top, you know, football players, baseball players, racers for that matter. They get to the top and they're like, oh, I made it. I've got a big house, a cool plane, man, let's party on Monday.

Jimmie does the opposite.  He wakes up on Monday morning, 8:00 o'clock.
Gets on the treadmill.  Goes to work.  Watches what he eats and pays
attention to details.  If I need to talk to him on the telephone, he answers
the call.  He doesn't call me back two days later.  It's a commitment to his
lifestyle.  It's a part of his life.

If you want to win races in this industry in today's day and age, you have to give that type of commitment. If you don't, you're not going to win.

Q: A similar question to both of you guys. You have a pretty good winning percentage in the sort of overall grand scheme of things. Jimmie, it's 15%, but if you compare it to your chase winning percentage, it's pretty paltry, because that's 28%. Can you explain that? Do you have any explanation for how you've managed to step your game you up when it matters the most?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: Saying it for years, I really think it boils down to the tracks that are in the Chase. They're just very good for the 48 team. If you look at race wins and the start of the season fall races, it correlates between those two. The tracks that start the season are kind of in the Chase as well, and those are very, very good tracks for us. At the end of the day, that's what it boils down to in my eyes.

CHAD KNAUS: I would agree with that. I think that our team does a very good job of developing its package. When I say our team, I mean Hendrick Motorsports as a whole, collectively.

And I think as the season progresses, we tend to get smarter. Not that everybody else doesn't. But really as a group we work together, try to get our drivers on the same page, try to get our crew chiefs and teams on the same page.

When we unloaded here in Dover, a lot of us were very similar, and I think that shows through. I think you'll see that throughout the Chase, which is a good thing for Hendrick Motorsports and a bad thing for the 48.

We all work really hard. I think as a group our whole organization gets smarter and learns faster. I think especially today in today's day and age when there is no testing, I think that benefits us.

Q: Now that you know that it was a different car that you had in the spring, is that surprising to you? Is that something that you usually discuss with Chad as far as what car you're going to be driving?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: No, I mean the guys are always working on new things. And granted, the mouse trap that we played with today, there were a fewer areas to work in. So as new generation stuff comes along, and as Chad said through the year we keep learning small, small things. These cars keep being updated and tweaked on in advance. So it's not uncommon for me to not know what car we're bringing.

Kind of a funny note. The more I know, the worse we do. So it's at times I'm embarrassed of it. But I kind of know what's under the race car. But there are guys that know a lot more about the race car than I do. And for me, knowing those details and trying to crew chief from the seat, does nothing but hurt us.

If I just describe what I feel to Chad and Greg and break down the formula that we have. We kind of break things down a certain way and go through data. It works. We can't argue with what works. We've kind of built the 48 team around that model.

If you look at Mark over in the 5 car, he knows pretty much everything that's under underneath that thing. And that's from his generation of driver. I really commend him for knowing exactly what's under that car. He helps Alan make those decisions. So there are no right or wrong. It's just different ways to go about it.

To make a long story short to get back to the question about the car. I don't even know what car I'm going next weekend in. So I'll get in and go fast.

THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you and congratulations.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Chad Knaus , Mark Martin
Teams Hendrick Motorsports