JIMMIE JOHNSON , NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: (Finished 2nd) "I was really searching around trying to find a line. My car wasn't handling very well. So I was pretty focused on what I was doing. I looked up and saw the No. 9 (Kasey...
JIMMIE JOHNSON , NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: (Finished 2nd)
"I was really searching around trying to find a line. My car wasn't handling very well. So I was pretty focused on what I was doing. I looked up and saw the No. 9 (Kasey Kahne) was pretty close to me and pulling it down to the inside. I looked right in front of him and the No. 19 (Jeremy Mayfield) was there. I thought, 'Shoot, there's two spots'. Then I saw the No. 18 (Bobby Labonte) and on the back straight-away weaving around and then I caught him the next lap. When I saw them running out of gas, I was afraid to say anything on the radio. But I started letting off real early. I didn't want to run out too. But then, I didn't think we were in a position to run out of gas. I was surprised to see people run out of gas. We didn't have any communication on my radio about that. But it must have been close for so many people to run out."
WHAT IS CONTRIBUTING TO YOUR RECENT SUCCESS WEEK-IN AND WEEK-OUT?
"We really pride ourselves on being consistent and not making any mistakes and focusing more on that instead of being the fastest in one segment or have the fastest pit stop. We really believe that being a consistent race team is going to bring us a championship. I'm glad that it shows. Some weeks it doesn't and some weeks it does. What really amazes me is that we're able to bounce back when we're down and out. I mean, we finished second today in a back-up car."
DID YOU FEEL YOU WERE LOW ON FUEL? DID YOU HEAR IT SLOSHING AT THE VERY END?
"No, I made it around okay. I slowed down. I noticed they were pushing the NO. 24 (Gordon) to victory lane and I didn't see smoke. We were in a very similar situation."
WERE THERE ANY CLOSE CALLS TODAY?
"Numerous. There at the beginning with the No. 20 (Tony Stewart) when he and the No. 2 (Wallace) were racing real hard, Rusty was squeezed up against the outside wall. And also, the No. 24 (Gordon) was trying to get around the No. 20 (Stewart) and I don't think his spotter let him know because he came up pretty quick and slammed the No. 24 into the wall too. But in both of those instances, I was just inches around those cars and though we were all going to be in a big pile."
HOW DIFFERENT WAS THE RACE TRACK THIS YEAR COMPARED TO LAST YEAR?
"I want to say the track was the same. The grooves seemed to work out the same. But it seemed like the compound or the rubber would lay down in the tire - almost like a dirt track - and you would have to move around in different stages in the race just because so many people had run through that area. You could almost see a dark shiny spot. You'd have to dodge that. It was like a slick spot on a dirt track. Every 15 or 20 laps, that spot would move and you'd have to keep moving around to miss it."
BASED ON YOUR SUCCESS TODAY, WILL YOU HAVE A SIMILAR SET-UP FOR THE NIGHT RACE HERE IN THE FALL?
"I think the same set-up and concept will apply. I don't think the track will get as slick and we won't put down as much rubber because the sun won't be beating on the track and the cars will have a little bit more grip from that."
IS TONY STEWART LOSING RESPECT OF SOME OF THE DRIVERS?
"When you're around Tony, you have to race him in a certain way just like you do a lot of people. I think what you have today is that Rusty (Wallace) is one of the most strong-minded guys out there and (so is) Tony. So you've got a battle of two very strong-minded and competitive guys. So it's not going to be pretty either way. Being behind it, I saw that those guys were racing really hard. Nobody was doing anything wrong. The problem was that they were racing so hard so early that they were so close it sucked the air off of the back of the No. 20 (Stewart) and took the No. 2 (Wallace) into the fence off of Turn 2. But I had a front row seat for it. I could see that something was going to take place. It was just a matter of time because they were running into one another down the straight-away and not leaving each other a lot of room."