JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET met with members of the media at Dover International Speedway and discussed concern for Brian Vickers, performance of the 48 team, the accident at Darlington and other topics. DO YOU LIKE RACING AT DOVER?:...
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET met with members of the media at Dover International Speedway and discussed concern for Brian Vickers, performance of the 48 team, the accident at Darlington and other topics.
DO YOU LIKE RACING AT DOVER?: "It's been a great track for me over the years. When I think back to my first time driving at the track was driving was in 1998 or 1999, probably '98. Loved the track when I came here and still today, it's one of the tracks that really challenges the drivers in a lot of ways. From the entry and the approach into the corner, you're at one altitude kind of and then you fall two or three stories off into the corner and then have to climb back up that hill on corner exit. It makes for a fun lap and I guess kind of reminds me of my off-road racing days a little bit. I really enjoy this race track."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR CONCERN FOR BRIAN VICKERS?: "Certainly concerned for him and I think that it's still so new that they're still learning and trying to understand exactly what's going on with him. I spoke with him, he's in good spirits and certainly hope that they get to the bottom of things and get him healed up and back in the race car as soon as possible. From when I spoke to him last night, there's still a lot of question marks and concerns and trying to understand just what in the world is going on. Until they can find out what's going on, there's a lot of worry and concern. It's weird to talk to a guy and I talked to him on the phone and he was just happy, not necessarily happy about being out of the car, but healthy and sounds find and normal. But there's obviously something going on."
DO YOU THINK THE EXTENDED GREEN-WHITE-CHECKERED FINISHES THAT THE FANS WANTED HAVE WORKED SO FAR AND IS THERE ANYTHING WITH THEM THAT HAS SURPRISED YOU?: "I think that there have been some good changes and good compromises with the green-white-checkereds. I haven't had one really bite me yet. I know there are a few drivers that were in position and then caution came out and it kind of worked against the situation they were in. We knew coming into it that it would change the game some. I think it's made the finishes less predictable. Strategy has changed quite a bit from what we've seen in the past and four tires stops are paying off at tracks that you never, ever would have even pitted before. It's been a much different few races or third of the races, third of the season so far, I think it's added excitement and at the end of the day, we need to really find that compromise of what upholds the integrity and the competition on track and also keeps the fans engaged to remain sitting in the grandstands."
HAVE YOU SEEN A LARGE DIFFERENCE FROM THE SPOILER BEING ADDED TO THE RACE CARS?: "For us, I can't say that it's really changed much. I know that there's been some conversation that maybe HMS (Hendrick Motorsports) or the 48 team has had some troubles with the spoiler being on the car. I can't say that it's changed much for us. I look at the start of the year and we didn't have the dominant car, but we were able to close the deal and win three races. Since the spoiler came along, we've kind of been in that same situation, been competitive, if we've been on track and running then I think our worst finish has been 10th. If you look at the tracks that we've come through and we've almost won at Texas, Phoenix we had a great chance of winning so there's a lot of hope in there when you're sitting in our position. We're not where we want to be, but we're still awfully competitive and we're not as worried or concerned as some of the headlines may read and some speculation that might be out there. The sport is ever-changing and the spoiler definitely does change it some. I think it changes it more in traffic when you're driving through traffic. The car is less stable and there's less available air. In general, I think it's been pretty much the same across the board. I've been not necessarily surprised, but very impressed with what NASCAR put into this before hand to meet side forces and downforce numbers and did a good job of making the car very consistent."
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE FAN REACTION LATELY TO YOU NOT WINNING AND DO YOU THINK THAT JOE GIBBS RACING IS CLOSING THE GAP ON HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS?: "I'm not really familiar with some of the things that have been said about us having some DNFs. Last weekend, I was in four wrecks before the fourth one finally took me out of commission and we were done. It was just a wild night and I know (Kevin) Harvick joked around at California that we have a horseshoe implanted in a certain area. That horseshoe fell out before that race started Sunday last week because I've never been in four wrecks and then have a guy with no brakes come and t-bone me from the side. It changes, we've been saying this all along with the 48 car being at the top of its game, this stuff doesn't last forever. The garage area gets smarter, teams, driver and everyone is developing and trying to make their equipment faster and better. We're not where we want to be right now. We're still very competitive and as I said earlier, not at a point to where some of the headlines may read, that we're not competitive and we're not in this thing, but we have a little work to do. There's nothing wrong with that. The three races we won this year, we weren't the dominant car, but we got the job done. The way I look at it, our pit stops are better than they've ever been. Chad (Knaus, crew chief) and I are working great together. We're trying to find some new speed for our race cars and it just takes a little bit of work. Where we're sitting now, second in the points, is far better than some seasons that we've gotten off to. There's still a lot of racing left and it will be fun."
HOW SURPRISED WERE YOU WHEN THE 43 CAR HIT YOU AT DARLINGTON LAST WEEK?: "I've never been in a position like that where a car just came in. I guess in some road courses, some things take place and you get hit unexpectedly from behind, but I've never had a car without brakes just hit me and not even know what was going on. I'm sure it was an uncomfortable right for AJ (Allmendinger) knowing he was going to hit someone or something. For myself, I knew the caution was out and I rolled into the corner, getting ready to talk on the radio to Chad (Knaus, crew chief) about what we needed for adjustments and at the last second I saw a flash of green and then before I knew it I was trying to gather my thoughts and my breath and get the car out of the way and off the race track because he slid right up in there."
IS THERE MORE STRESS THAN NORMAL BETWEEN YOURSELF AND CHAD KNAUS ON THE RADIO?: "It's just part of it. People that have listened to the 48 over the years know that there are heated moments and that is just part of any race team. Certainly the 48, we're not immune to the emotion that takes place during the course of a race. It's the same stuff and I think we're doing a much better job at dealing with adversity this year, today in general than we have from the start of our career and even last year. We make it colorful from time to time."
-source: gm racing