IMS Brickyard 2nd, 3rd qualifying press conference

2010 BRICKYARD 400 PRESS CONFERENCE Indianapolis Motor Speedway Saturday, July 24, 2010, An interview with: Jimmie Johnson: 2nd qualifier Mark Martin: 3rd qualifyer MODERATOR: We're now joined in the infield media center by today's third...

2010 BRICKYARD 400 PRESS CONFERENCE
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Saturday, July 24, 2010,

An interview with:
Jimmie Johnson: 2nd qualifier
Mark Martin: 3rd qualifyer

MODERATOR: We're now joined in the infield media center by today's third quick qualifying driver of the No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, Mark Martin. Mark, tell us about your run.

MARK MARTIN: The car was just really solid, it was yesterday as well. We were third quick in the final practice there yesterday. And we knew that we didn't have the best draw but we were, you know, confident that we had a good, solid race car. It was a very good lap. It was all good. I tried to get maybe a little bit more than I should have in turn 4, but it probably, you know, in the end of the things probably didn't hurt me. Starting position-wise, it probably wound up being a wash. I could have picked some time up, I think I could have picked some time up there if I had done that again, but I probably lost some, you know, in one of the other turns. So it's just really great to see, you know, my race team has been so determined and so dug in for several weeks now, a couple of months digging to try to fight our way back from where we were to, you know, back up near the top of the heap. And it's been nice to see the progress that we've been able to make in speed with the race car, especially starting at New Hampshire, even though the results may not have really shown it, I've been seeing more and more speed in the race car. I was very pleased at Chicago with the gains that we had made and appeared yesterday as significant gains again this week. And we have a lot more work in front of us. So we're excited about getting back in contention here.

MODERATOR: We're also joined by today's second quick in qualifying, driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet, Jimmie Johnson. Jimmie, tell us about your lap.

JIMMIE JOHNSON: We were proud of the lap that we ran today. We felt confident yesterday and was in qualifying trim and was real happy about things. Knew that the Ganassi guys were going to be real tough today, and to be as close as we were to Juan was a good accomplishment for us. I was really proud of what I did, because yesterday I continued to make mistakes, I would get three of the four corners right and I couldn't get all four right. So I made sure today that I did my job and maybe left a little on the table because I wanted to be very line specific and not make a mistake. But so maybe I could have squeaked a little more out or it would have led to a mistake. Either way I'm very, very proud of the lap I ran today. Great starting spot, great pit stall pick and looking forward to it.

MODERATOR: Open up to questions from the media. We'll start with Mike.

Q: One for each of you. Mark, you went out with a much later draw than most of the other cars that are at the top. Do you think that's bodes well for you in the race since it's in the heat of the day? Jimmie, you're going for three in a row and four out of five. Does that kind of streak play in your mind similar to when you're running for three and four championships in a row or are you out there racing for what you can?

MARTIN: The draw, certainly last year we had an early draw and we had a great car and we were able to capitalize on it. This year we didn't have a great draw but we had a great car, and I feel we capitalized on that car. So I'm, you know, encouraged like I said, with the progress that we've been able to make. It's really hard to do in the middle of a race season when you realize that you're behind. These guys are digging and they're digging in and we're making progress and we've got more in front of us. So kudos to them, and I just want to thank all my race fans out there for keeping the faith. I feel like we're, you know, we're on our way back to contention form like last year. I hope so.

JOHNSON: For me, I feel very fortunate and at the same time proud of my team that we've been able to continue to bring good cars to the track, execute and put ourselves in the position to have streaks from championships, race wins, an opportunity at three in a row here which hasn't been done. I'm very proud of that. It comes down to preparation and teamwork and all the things we know about to put us in that position, and we have to execute and we've done that. There's a lot of pride rolled into that. But it doesn't change my mind-set going into the race. I'm very thankful for the opportunity, but I'm still going to go to bed tonight and do everything I can like I would on a normal weekend to make sure my car is right, and run the race the same way tomorrow. I can't change what I am doing much. You know, we're giving100 percent, so I'm just proud of what we've done and glad that we have been able to link some different streaks together.

MODERATOR: Additional questions?

Q: Mark, you said a couple weeks ago that you thought your team was actually better this year than it was a year ago; it was just the cars obviously when it's fast. But now you're saying you're encouraged. But is it not too late in the season to get back to where you were last year when you were challenging Jimmie for the championship?

MARTIN: To answer your question, no, it's not too late, but it's very close. You know, it's close. So, you know, we still have work to do. It looks really good this weekend, but I don't think that you can judge the rest of the, you know, the rest of the schedule based on one good two days' worth of really good, you know. And we have a lot of work in front of us. We're working really hard, harder than we ever have. So that's what we can do. We can control that and that's what we're doing. You know, we're really focused and dug in.

Q: Jimmie, last year Juan had everybody pretty much covered until that last speeding penalty, and you were the ultimate benefactor of that. Because of what happened to him last year, he's come here, he's been strong every practice, he wins the pole. Do you see him tomorrow as he's got something to prove? He's owed one, anything like that? @!JOHNSON: I think we were the best car last year. I think Juan and the team did a great job getting up front and were in clean air. The fact that we started 16th and drove up into the battle for the lead, I think shows a lot for what our car did last year. Yes, Juan was fast in clean air, but when he got mired in traffic, he couldn't go anywhere. Not taking a shot at Juan, but I'm really proud of what we did last year. And I look at where the 14 is starting, and I expect him to be a player. I'm thinking, "Man, I was there last year." That's a tough, tough row to hoe. With all of that said, Juan has been awesome here regardless of the car, an open-wheel car or a stock car. From the tire test that we were all part of, he was the fastest there, yesterday, today. He knows what he's doing. That team, I was thinking about this in general just watching the 1 car's performance, Ganassi is doing a great job on all fronts. It doesn't matter if it's Grand Am, IndyCar, NASCAR, they've really impressed the racing world with what they're capable of regardless of car and type of racing. So I think they're going to be a favorite and they're going to do a great job. I'm sure Juan will make sure that he's below speed limit by a long way because he's going to be a factor in the race. I mean, he's got a great shot at winning this thing tomorrow.

Q: Mark and Jimmie, I think Greg Biffle is the only one in the top 10 today who doesn't drive a Chevy. Why were the Chevrolets so dominant in qualifying?

JOHNSON: Go for it. @!MARTIN: Mine was fast. I don't know what to say about the rest of them. (Laughter)

JOHNSON: Yes, Chevrolets are amazing cars. I think if you look at organizations, you'll see a little more consistency in that, as well. It's tough for the manufacturers to separate themselves right now because things are so regulated. But we do feel that Chevrolet gives us all the tools to find a small advantage with horsepower and performance, reliability, all of those things. I think if you look in the reliability department, knock on wood, the GM stuff has been really strong. We saw a failure the other day with one of the Gibbs cars and some of the other folks throughout the season, and I think we're building great, reliable power.

Q: Jimmie, looking back at your career, at least the last few seasons, it appears that you're a bit of a streaker. What I mean by that is not only with the championships, you know, possibly getting this three in a row which hasn't been done outside of Formula One here. When you win you tend to do them together. I mean, what do we attribute this to? What is it do you think when you have success you really go with it?

JOHNSON: I don't know. From my standpoint, especially from the championships, the season is so long, it's hard to really think that that is a streak, even though on paper it does look like it and we have swept tracks each year we've raced so far; and we usually do win in consecutive races. I see parts of it and I don't know why. I look at Sonoma and New Hampshire and you couldn't pick two tracks more different. So I don't think it's in technology or setups, there's certainly confidence that comes with a win and you carry that into the next weekend. But I don't have a clear answer on that. I'm not really sure why. I hope to keep it going. It seems to put us in a great position in the record books, and I really enjoy doing things that haven't been done before, so I hope to keep it going.

Q: Jimmie, given the track, your experience here, the conditions you expect to face tomorrow, what's the strategy that you'll look toward being able to use to get where you want to be tomorrow?

JOHNSON: Well, where we're starting we have the great luxury of good air. Hopefully we can lead and be in the best situation. The first goal is to not screw that up and be mired in traffic, and we need to have clean pit stops, no mistakes on the track. Every spot you lose on the track, the condition, the handling of your car is going to get much, much worse. So the goal is to not screw up what we've done today, and stay up there in that top two and ideally leading the race. Especially from the last pit stop on, Mark last year in clean air probably would have driven away from me, but I got him on that restart and he stuck there in dirty air on my bumper for 15 laps or whatever it was just wearing us out. So clean air from that last green flag on is really important.

Q: For Mark, have you done any race practice or have you done all the qualifying? And is there any balancing act for you tomorrow as far as whether you take chances versus knowing where you are in the chase and points and all that?

MARTIN: We did race practice the first practice yesterday. We could see that our speed looked better than it did, a little bit better than Chicago. Then we went in true trim, we saw that it was much better. So we didn't get the car exactly where we wanted it, but it was just an hour practice and we stopped ten, 12, 14 minutes early to change over to qualifying. We got a good idea where we want to start today at 2:00 and refine that. So the car showed, you know, right out of the gate showed promise yesterday. You know, we'll run our typical, normal race. I mean, I don't think that we will throw all or nothing, Hail Mary, which we don't normally much anyway. So I think we'll run our typical calculated race, I would assume that's what Alan's strategy would be. And we, you know, we would love to be in contention to win, but we also are just going to also be pleased to be, you know, running better than we have, making progress -- you have to take making progress as an encouragement, and hopefully if you can continue that, you know, you can get where you want to be. So I'm certainly feeling good about the progress that we're making right now.

Q: Mark, this is a hard question to ask you, but it also brings a lot of praise. A lot of drivers have commented regarding the Brad and Carl incident, that if Mark had been the No. 2 car there, it wouldn't have been an incident because it wouldn't have happened. Does that give you pause? Because a lot of people really respect you, but it's different when you win the race and you don't win the race. How do you deal with that?

MARTIN: You know, I get some more credit than maybe I deserve. I'm not sure what would have happened under that same scenario had I been in Carl's shoes. I can't say for sure. I hope that the initial incident wouldn't have happened, which was Brad getting in, you know, into me if I had been in Carl's shoes. That's what I would hope for. And then we could just have a battle side to side, you know, side by side. I really don't want to get into that one, you know. I have no -- I don't have any dog in that fight at all. I do appreciate the respect that I'm given, and I also acknowledge that I probably get more than I deserve.

MODERATOR: Gentlemen, congratulations and thank you for your time.

-source: ims

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Greg Biffle , Jimmie Johnson , Mark Martin