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Hauler Chat With Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Monte Carlo SS California Speedway February 24, 2006 HAULER CHAT WITH JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 MONTE CARLO SS: ON WEEK AFTER DAYTONA 500 WIN - "It has been a whirlwind, it has been a lot fun. Looking...

Hauler Chat With Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Monte Carlo SS
California Speedway
February 24, 2006


ON WEEK AFTER DAYTONA 500 WIN - "It has been a whirlwind, it has been a lot fun. Looking back, I would have probably would have gotten a little more sleep Sunday night leading up to Monday morning and the start of this week. It has been a lot of fun, I have been all over the country, been on a lot of shows, I am really enjoying this win. It has been a great experience."

HAS ANY OF THE SHINE BEEN TAKEN OFF THE WIN WITH RESIDUAL FOLLOWING DAYTONA QUALIFYING PENALTY? "It is too bad that some of the stuff has turned out as it has. But some of it is our own doing, what the team was doing when Chad got the suspension. I wish they could have announced the balance due on the penalty on that first Tuesday after qualifying and the shootout. But it is what it is and I think everyone knows and understands that that car is perfectly legal and we won the Daytona 500 and won it fair and square. It is a great accomplishment for this team when you look at what we had to overcome. We have a lot to talk about and a lot to be proud of and we definitely are.

REACTION TO FINE AND THREE ADDITIONAL WEEKI SUSPENSION: "When you look at the similar crime that the 29 team had at Talladega, I believe that was $10,000 and two weeks suspension for Todd Berrier and this is right in line with that in qualifying and of similar importance. Chad got $25,000 and four weeks. Everything is going up, it is ratcheting up, that is the level of it and truthfully, we expected that with the disparity of it and Chad being ejected from the race track.

"We prepared for the worst; we got the worst. One thing I don't think everybody understands is how tough it is to do without a crew chief. I know there have been discussions about points being taken away but there is not a more severe penalty in this garage area than losing a crew chief. We won't have him for three more weeks and we just have to make the best of the situation.

DO YOU THINK YOU CAN RUN WELL IN THE RACE ON SUNDAY WITHOUT CHAD? "Absolutely. This team is very strong. We have done everything we can and we are looking forward to getting out on the track. The next three weekends we are really focusing on top-five finishes and that is how we focused at Daytona and you could see how I drove the race that I just wanted to be in position to try and come out of there with a top-five. At the end of the race, we were in a position to win and that was nice. So we came here with that same approach. "

DID YOU EXPECT TO HAVE POINTS TAKEN AWAY? "I am not sure what to expect when NASCAR makes their rulings. They look long and hard at all the different circumstances going into it. One thing I don't thing everybody understands how severe a penalty it is to lose a crew chief, not just one week but we are talking four races. I would take a 25-point deduction over a four-week crew chief suspension any day. This early in the season I would take that any day, move on and keep the team working like it needs to. We have a very, very harsh penalty. We stepped over the line, we got in trouble, we are living with the circumstances and trying to make the most of it. Hopefully all is going to be fine now and we can move on together.

HAVE YOU GOT UP ON SLEEP FROM YOU TRIP BACK AND FORTH ACROSS THE COUNTRY? "I think another night of sleep would be much needed. I am feeling a lot better. As of yesterday, I had had three and a half days of media stuff going on then I already had a previous engagement at my car dealership in Kearney Mesa. All the employees had a fan club meeting down there and we had a really, really good time with my fans. So after all of that, I came back to the bus and crashed and was out by nine o'clock. I am doing well but one more night will help."

WITH THE DAYTONA WIN, IS THE PRESSURE ON DARRIAN AS THE CREW CHIEF? "The pressure is on, he has to keep up his winning streak. He did a great job last week and I think he will do just as good a job this week and the weeks to follow. I really think that has taught our team a lot and built a lot of confidence in the new guys that have come along, and everyone one in their new positions. In the end, I think we are going to be a much stronger team when we get Chad back, hopefully a lot smarter to not take advantage and put ourselves in a position we don't want to be in."

HOW HARD IT IS GOING TO BE WITHOUT CHAD AT A TRACK LIKE CALIFORNIA WHERE YOU HAVE TO MAKE A LOT MORE ADJUSTMENTS THAT AT DAYTONA. "It is a huge thing to overcome. We think we have taken the right approach in moving up our race day engineer to step in as crew chief because he has been there making those calls with Chad. He knows the way I describe things and has respect from the team so I really think that it was a great decision and showed last weekend and we will look forward to it working again in the next couple of weeks."

HAVE YOU STEPPED UP NOW AND PUT MORE OF YOUR THOUGHTS, ETC. INTO THE TEAM? "I think not only myself but everyone on the team has. Not really from the technical side, I don't have to step up any more but more from a leadership side. Being in here early for the guys, leading them and keeping their spirits up and making them understand that hey, we are going to be fine. It is going to be a lot of work, but we will be fine, just believe in yourself, lets make the most of this."

DO YOU TALK MUCH TO CHAD? "We talked this morning and we will talk again tonight. Really, he just wishes us luck and off we go and try and take care of what we can."

DOES IT HELP TO COME BACK TO A TRACK WHERE NOT ONLY YOU HAVE HAD SUCCESS, BUT SO HAVE OTHER HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS TEAMS? "I think it does. I think it helps us bring confidence to this race knowing that we have had success here, Vegas and Atlanta. But it is a new season, we are working to get our new Monte Carlo SS to work exactly right for us. Lots of new things for us and I have to admit that I am excited to get on the race track and find out where we stack up. I think this practice session will show us something and Saturday's practice session in race trim will let us know where we stand and I will be breathing easier after that. "

IF A DRIVER HAS WRONGED YOU ON THE TRACK, DOES TALKING IT OVER BY PHONE REALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE? "I think a lot of it depends on how it's resolved if a driver is sincerely over it or whatever the case. I've been able to talk in person and over the phone with guys to get stuff straightened out. I think the question mark is out there. You just have to see."

IF YOU HAVE A DIFFERENT OPINION, CAN YOU STRAIGHTEN THINGS OUT? "I know the question is around Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth and last weekend. I've had things happen with Tony last year. And we talked on the phone and worked through it. Actually after that, I think we were in Talladega, and I went up to his bus to talk to him more. Tony and Matt both understand it. They'll work everything out."

DID YOU HAVE FUN GOING ON THE DAVID LETTERMAN SHOW? "Letterman was the best thing. He's a funny guy and he's easy to talk to. He really kept the speed of the interview going fast, so it was fun. It was late in the day; I knew it was the end of the ride. I could get some sleep after that. The Regis and Kelly Show was fun, but Letterman was probably the highlight, without a doubt.

-gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Jimmie Johnson