Jimmie Johnson - Driver of No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet What are you and the No. 48 Lowe's team going to be working on during the next few weeks leading up to Daytona? "From the car standpoint, we are basically taking what we learned at Talladega...
Jimmie Johnson - Driver of No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet
What are you and the No. 48 Lowe's team going to be working on during the next few weeks leading up to Daytona?
"From the car standpoint, we are basically taking what we learned at Talladega and tweaking the finer points. But what we are really going to working hard on is our communication. This is our first year working together as a team, so the communication is kind of rough right now. What we hope to do is distinguish everyone's responsibilities at-track and get out timing down. For Chad and I, it's important to know how this team is going to interact with each other once the season gets under way. This week's test in Vegas will give us a great chance to simulate race conditions and work on the way we all communicate during a race. It should be a real learning experience."
What did you learn at last week's test in Talladega that will help you out in Daytona?
"Talladega really helped us develop our speedway cars. It's always tough to simulate track conditions during speedway tests, but the speed gains we made and the information we gather should translate well in Daytona. Overall, as always, the in-car time is crucial. The entire team benefits from each testing session we conduct. Whether it's our communication, timing or the car's set-up, we always walk away from each test a bit smarter and more experienced."
From a mentoring standpoint, you're in a great position. Talk a little about what it means to you to be teamed up with Hendrick Motorsports and its stable of drivers.
"The experience these guys bring to the table is unsurpassed...six championships between Jeff and Terry alone. I'll look to all of these guys this year for advice and direction. With Jerry, he's most recently been in my shoes as the new kid on the block and can offer me some great advice as to how I should handle that role. Being housed in the same building with Jeff is surely going to be the biggest advantage. Driving the same cars as him, utilizing the same resources, sharing information and the one-team approach will all play to my advantage. As I've said before, I'd be crazy if I didn't take advantage of all that was at my disposal."
On that note, is there anything specific that you are learning from Jeff as it relates to handling the pressures leading up to the start of the season and juggling a busy schedule?
"He's open, willing and ready to help out with things, both on and off the track. There are many new dynamics to all of this for me, and Jeff's there to help guide me along, as are all the drivers at Hendrick Motorsports. He's been a great mentor thus far, in that he doesn't hover over me and offer unsolicited advice...after all, he's got his own schedule to worry about. Instead, he lets me be myself and offers advice for working through particular situations. I'm not only learning a lot from him, but also learning from other drivers who have recently been in similar situations, such as Jerry Nadeau, Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth."
How do you mentally prepare for the new season?
"To be honest, I'm not quite sure. Jeff's been a big help in offering advice on how to handle everything on and off the track and keep things balanced while maintaining my sanity. He's a great role model for things like this because he's been here before and really has a great knack for balancing his professional schedule and his personal life. Believe you me, I've been wearing him out with questions about how to handle everything.
"But overall, I'm mentally ready to go racing. For me, that's my comfort zone. Driving is something I've always done...ever since I was five years old. Putting that helmet on and getting in that racecar is easy in comparison to all of the other responsibilities. Being in front of a camera and speaking in front of all of these microphones takes some getting used to. But it's like everything in life...a learning experience."