Continued from part 1 CHAD KNAUS: Yeah, I didn't have a whole lot on Jimmie leading up to that point. When you're in the Cup Series and you really get engulfed in what it is you're trying to do, it's difficult to pay attention to the ...
Continued from part 1
CHAD KNAUS: Yeah, I didn't have a whole lot on Jimmie leading up to that point. When you're in the Cup Series and you really get engulfed in what it is you're trying to do, it's difficult to pay attention to the Nationwide Series because the races are going on while you're racing or while you're working on your cars and stuff and you don't get to see a whole lot of them, so I didn't watch a lot of what was in the Busch Series that much and didn't really know Jimmie at all. I had known that he had won Chicago because that was my hometown and it kind of stuck with me for some reason or another.
And Jay Guy, who was one of my best friends, he introduced us when we were in Homestead. We were sitting on Jay and I were sitting on the wall, I think it was for qualifying, and Jimmie was walking down to start the Nationwide race or something like that, and Jay had stopped him and pulled him over to the side and said, hey, man, this is the guy you need to have for your crew chief. He did it kind of in a joking manner. Jimmie didn't know who either one of us were. So that was our first encounter.
But when we had lunch we hit it off. We talked about motorcycles and a lot of different things, and it's been fun ever since. I didn't know if he had any talent. I didn't know if he could drive at all. He didn't know if I knew what I was doing at all.
It's something we both kind of discussed early on and said, this is our shot. You get kind of one opportunity in life to make things happen, and this was our opportunity, and we both dove in headfirst and believe in one another, and here we are.
Q: For both Jimmie and Chad, just a race specific question. I know that there seemed to be some tension kind of creeping in you, Jimmie, during the course of the race and other certain instances, Bowyer running up on your door, and that created some tension. Of course there might have been getting through some guys, getting past guys. Was the specter of Texas still haunting you when you saw the 77 come up on you on that restart?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, it doesn't matter if it's practice or the race, the 77 and I just don't seem to flow together. I don't know why. It's been that way for a long time. I saw him again tonight, and I'm like, man, I've got to get out of here.
Tonight things went smoothly. There was no issues. But the 42 left the bottom of the racetrack and came right to the fence like he was clear, and he was not clear. And I had to check up both times and it cost me like six spots every time it happened. One time I was in second and it took place, and heck, before I got back to the outside lane and recovered from what went on, I lost a bunch of time.
And then Bowyer, I guess he was wanting to keep up front in clean air, and we were driving, taking my lane, and then I finally got inside of him and he had been running the top, and he came down and just sat on my right rear quarter panel through three and four for a couple laps, which he hadn't run that line the ten laps I was behind him. So I was like, why now? So yes, I was frustrated, and after a few hand gestures and maybe some spotter communication, things went smoothly after that with the 33.
I don't think he was trying to be a pain in the butt, he was just racing for every inch that he could. I definitely was a little revved up tonight. I wanted to keep my eyes on winning the race and having a shot at it, and track position was so important. I just felt so good in the car and really knew that I had a shot at winning the race tonight and wanted to take advantage of it.
Q: As a follow up, is that why you radioed to Chad?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah. I mean, I could see two or three cars in front of me, and I knew how fast I was catching them. I could at least get to them. I didn't realize that the leader was another step ahead of that. I thought that was it. I wasn't sure where we were running.
Q: This was a question I've wanted to ask you for a while, but Christine threatened me by death if I asked you before tonight. A lot of us have called Jeff "Four Time" for a long time. I'm wondering now, what do we call you, what do we call him? And my second question is Dustin the other day asked you a question about what else do you want in life, and you really talked about, hey, all my life, this is what I've wanted. You didn't really talk about what you want later or next. Chad wants a son, a daughter, to retire, a wife, hair. I'm wondering, what do you want?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Um, I don't know what you can call us. I'm sure you guys can think up some good names. "Four Time" has a nice ring to it. I don't know. I'm sure we'll come up with something. Maybe I'll make a fool out of myself tonight, and we'll have a good one after that.
As far as what's next, I mean, I just I mean, I signed a new contract, so it just seems I haven't thought much about it, to be honest with you. To me, it's like I've signed through 2015, Cup level, Lowe's is on board, it's just what we do. We're just going to keep racing.
Q: Don't you have something in your head like I want to be 50 and sitting here doing this?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: I have so far blown past those marks that I'm just sitting here like, okay, well, let's try it again. I hope to win a race at the Cup level was my goal want when this whole thing started and I was racing ASA, and I felt like probably even before that, if I could win a Cup race, that was my goal. And then that happened. I keep readjusting. So I never thought I'd be here.
You know, I'd love to win more championships or more races than what anybody else has done, but I'm not sure how realistic that is. So I don't have a good answer for you. I'm trying to recalibrate.
I feel like I'm driving and doing the best job I've ever done in the race car, and I hope that I can stay in the sweet spot for a period of time and really continue on. But I haven't thought much about it because I keep blowing by the stuff that I've set for goals.
Q: Were you aware there was going to be some payback between Montoya and Stewart, and did you have to make a mental note to yourself to stay clear of that situation? And can you also maybe speak to the knack that you have, other than at Texas this year, for really not putting yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, I could tell Chad had said something to our spotter that the 42 was back out on the track and said something about the there was some casual conversation that I figured out that there might be something coming. For two laps maybe or a lap and a half, I could see two red cars kind of crossing paths and a lot going on. I just started slowing down. I figured something was going to happen, and sure enough, it did. I had some time to get slowed down and get out of harm's way.
What was the other question?
Q: Your knack for not putting yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: I'm not sure where it comes from. I think I look pretty far ahead on the track is helpful, and a lot of guys run tape or have different things over the windshield to block the sun out, and I'm always cutting that stuff out so I can look further down the road. I think where my line of sight is, just looking down the road is helpful. Outside of that, I don't know. I wish that I had seen it in Texas, though. It was close.
Q: After the race when you were sitting in your car, I think, in turn 2 waiting for the platform and everything to be set up, you said on TV you let your mind wander a bit. Can you talk about where you let it wander to and what you were thinking of while you were sitting there?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Just where I started, riding around in a 1979 Ford van with a little eight foot enclosed trailer behind it going to motorcycle races around the country and sitting there on turn 2 after winning your fourth championship. So there's just a lot of little things that came into my mind from when I was a kid riding dirt bikes. I thought about my first four wheel experience, first time I drove a stock car.
I was telling Kenny Wallace, thinking on the back stretch over there that my first race in ASA car was in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and I was fast, but I didn't know how to pass anyone. And I was on the radio trying to ask the crew chief, how do I pass. He goes, man, I don't know; I set the car up, it's your job; you've got to figure that part out. I just didn't know how to pass anybody; I'd follow them around and I didn't know what to do. So there was a lot of memories like that flipping around my mind, just kind of tripping out sitting there on turn 2.
Q: You were talking about how you can't pass people back then, how you've done what nobody else has done. Petty didn't do it, Earnhardt didn't it do it, Allison didn't do it, on and on, Yarborough didn't do it. Be honest; where do you stack up?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: I think it's up there. You know, the fact that nobody has done this, I think it puts me near the top. I certainly look at the seven championships by both Earnhardt and Petty, their race wins, their being in the sport for the number of years and all that they've done, those two guys are kind of at a draw at the top.
Hopefully my stats and win totals and championship totals can rival theirs. But it puts us up there, it really does. And the cool thing is we're not done yet. We've got a lot of racing left ahead of us. So hopefully we can improve on that.
Q: What you just said obviously leads to this question: Is there any reason for us to think that you're not going to win seven, eight, top that record? And you've talked earlier about blowing past all your goals. Is that now a goal, to beat those two guys?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: It is a goal. I'm not sure how realistic it is. I guess it's tough to really understand because of the way the last four years have gone, and at times based on questions and discussions, we make it look easy or different things. But it is so, so difficult to compete in this sport. And what we've done is truly amazing, and the fact that it's never been done before speaks to how difficult this task was to win four in a row.
I don't know if we'll win another championship. I have no idea what next year will bring and what the challenges will bring as the years go by. There's just no guarantees on that. I feel in my heart we'll be competitive. But at some point in time we won't be that team. We're going to do everything we can to make sure we are that team. But you just never know what the future holds.
Yes, I would love to win seven, eight championships, and me saying that, it's like Gordon saying he wants to win seven or eight. Of course we want to do that. But is it a realistic thing at this point in time? The level of competition we have in the sport, I don't know. But we're sure as hell going to try.
Q: This came up last night with Kyle Busch. The second place guy in Nationwide had enough points to win the championship five out of the last six years, even considering how good Kyle was. When you look back at your last four years, what is more impressive, the fact that you've won four consecutive titles or the performance that has been required to win those four consecutive titles, considering the people who have finished seconds and the stats that they have put up?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: I don't know. They kind of, I guess, melt together in my head in some ways. There's been discussion about I think it was a couple weeks ago that I haven't had someone like Earnhardt, as Gordon did. But as I've thought about that some more, I think of all the guys that have raced for championships, and we all consider Stewart one of the greats, Gordon one of the greats. I've raced both those guys for championships. Then some very, very other tough ones, Mark Martin this year.
So I feel that what I am most proud of looking back on, obviously the four championships, those are amazing. But when I look in Chad's eyes and my guys' eyes, what we did during those four championships and the way we raced and how we raced for it, I'm most proud of that for sure. I don't know if that helps with the answer, but it gives me the last three years gave me so much confidence going into Phoenix, knowing that, okay, we've got last week at Texas, we're coming here, now it's time to show what we can really do, and we did it. In those moments, it's so cool to pull it off, so I'm proud of the fact that we can do it.
CHAD KNAUS: I think I agree 100 percent. Obviously the achievement of winning four championships is awesome. But the week in, week out battles that we go through to try to win these championships is so difficult, and it's difficult on everybody on the team, and for us to be able to rally in times when we are struggling and come back and pull off wins and top 5s, and Pocono this year we were a lap down and we have a miss we were three laps down, whatever it was, and we came back and were able to pull that stuff off, I think it speaks volumes about what this team is capable of doing.
As you guys know, I pride myself on our team being prepared and ready for action at the drop of a hat, and I think that those guys do that. I think that if the chips are down and we have to do massive adjustments to the race car to try to get the speed out of it to extract whatever it is we need to extract out of it, they do it. And I think that speaks volumes, and I'm proud of that. I'm proud to be a part of it.
Q: For both Jimmie and Chad, do you remember all the victory lane celebrations, each race that or are there things that are a little bit of a blur? Are things a little hazy as you're going through these runs? And Chad, I think I saw you with a little hand held video camera at the end there. I was wondering if you had planned to record this or if that was if you recorded anything else during the week.
CHAD KNAUS: I got that last year when we were in New York for the banquet. I took some video of that when we were up there cruising around New York City and doing all that stuff and it was a lot of fun, and then I took it on vacation with me last year, and I haven't used it since. It's still actually got the same videos on it. I called Lynn Hess, our office administrator, yesterday, and I said, hey, go into my office and get that little flip video out of my briefcase and bring it down here to me. So I charged it today and I gave to one of my engineers, and I said, here, don't give me this until there's five laps to go and we've got this in to a position where we think we're going to be able to seal it off.
Five laps to go, he walked up and he handed it to me, and I wanted to record it, because I think just like what you said, I don't enjoy what we do enough in the moment typically, and I don't do a good job of keeping records and memorabilia and things like that. I don't have a big a whole bunch of clippings and all that stuff. I just don't keep that stuff.
I knew this was going to be a big deal, and I wanted to be able to have something to remember it by, because even through all of the stuff that's going on, and it's a bit of a whirlwind, you forget, and I wanted to try to document it a little bit.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: What Chad said is totally right. It's tough to remember some of the different things. What's fun is when you sit around with the crew guys and stories start coming out, and it helps bring that back. But I've done a decent job with collecting things and clippings and trying to document stuff a little better than Chad. And I look forward to I've been saying I haven't watched or read anything. Next week when I get home, I look forward to going back and watching all the stuff and reading the articles, certainly the stuff that comes out of this weekend. It's time to catch up.
Continued in part 3