Jimmie Johnson teleconference, part 1

NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Weekly Teleconference Transcript - Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Monte Carlo SS MODERATOR: Welcome to this week's NASCAR Nextel teleconference. This is in advance of Sunday's Dover 400 at Dover International ...

NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Weekly Teleconference Transcript - Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Monte Carlo SS

MODERATOR: Welcome to this week's NASCAR Nextel teleconference. This is in advance of Sunday's Dover 400 at Dover International Speedway.

The 400 will be the second event in the Chase for the NASCAR Nextel Cup, that's the last 10 races of the season that determines the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series champion.

Today our teleconference guest is Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet. Jimmie started the Chase in second place in the standings. Little misfortune this past Sunday at New Hampshire, relegated him to a 39th-place finish in the first Chase race, and a drop in the points standings to ninth place.

Jimmie, 139 behind the leader, Harvick. Nine races remain in the Chase. What is your team's mindset going into Dover with Kevin Harvick having that big lead on you right off the bat?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: Well, we just need to get to work and go racing. We've got a great race team. We've been able to score a lot of points all year long. We definitely got off to a start that we didn't want. That's racing. Stuff happens.

We had a problem with a sparkplug wire that got us in that position where we got in the crash. Just a part failure. A couple guys have had this problem this year. We're doing everything we can to correct that and make sure that nothing like that pops up out of our control and hurts us in the future.

You know, we just got to go racing.  There's still nine races left in
this deal.  We're very excited, very pumped up.  The guys have great
spirits.  I have great spirits.  Just time to get to work.

HERB BRANHAM: Absolutely, Jimmie. We'll go to questions right now from the media for Jimmie Johnson.

Q: In this situation now, everybody is thinking back to '04 when you just kind of went on a rampage and won four races during the Chase. Considering teams like RCR and the 17 team and others that are building a lot of momentum themselves, do you think the 48 team still has that explosive capability? Could you come up with something like that again, or is the competition just way tougher than it was at that point?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: No, I definitely think we have it in us. If you look at the situation we're in, we're 139 points down. We were 247 down in '04, six races remaining, only lost by eight points. My guys have done the math. We need to outscore the 29 by 15.4 points from this point onto end up in the points lead.

The way I look at it, yeah, it's been a bad race. Something out of our control got us. This team is capable of so much. If we show up, give a hundred percent, do our job, I truly, in my heart, feel like we'll be back in the middle of this thing.

I can't forecast the future. I don't know what's going to happen. All I can do is control my team and what we do in the next nine races. I still think we're in a position to score points and get ourselves back in this points battle.

Q: The last five races of regular season, y'all had not awful finishes but mediocre finishes. You mentioned at one point you were sort of experimenting a little bit. You were driving hard to get those finishes. Is that end of regular season a false read on the 48 team? Was there a lot more experimentation going on? Was that preparation for situations that could arise in the Chase, or was that a true indication that y'all kind of had a rough time those races?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: I think it was a blend of both. If you look at any driver, there's different parts of the season where tracks come together for them and tracks give them a hard time. I think, you know, unfortunately ours is well-noted because we got off to a strong start, for whatever reason slow down, then pick back up.

We tried some stuff at some different races. I think everybody's in that position trying to find an advantage, trying to find something. We had that with a bad run of races for us. Just tracks that we didn't perform as strong as we wanted to. We weren't in bad shape. We were still knocking out top tens, doing better in my eyes than what we've done in August in other Chase battles that we've been in.

I think we're doing fine. I know momentum, it's easy to recognize it. It's easy to watch teams pick it up and have it. At the same time, teams lose it and new teams pick it up. We can trace back, RCR has been slowly coming along. Now those guys are on fire. I've been in that position. The fire's gone out and somebody else comes along. I'm not saying that's going to happen to them.

All we can do is control our own destiny, show up and give a hundred percent. That's the position we're in. We're all in great spirits, really excited about it.

Q: I think the two races you had marked were New Hampshire and Phoenix. Did you get enough time in the car before the sparkplug wire to determine what you thought you might have going into Phoenix?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, I think we've made a lot of progress. The 24 ran a very similar setup, had a great day, competitive day. I was just taking my time at the start of the race, working my way up into I think third or fourth. Then we had a pit stop. Some guys took two. We were around 10th or whatever after that restart got going.

The sparkplug problem happened. Still running on seven cylinders. I was running in 13th position before we spent some extra time on pit road trying to find the problem.

I really think we had a strong car and could have been in the top three in that event. I'm very excited going to Richmond. We definitely found some stuff that we needed.

Q: Last time you came to Dover, you kind of had one of those rollercoaster experiences with the spinout, actually battling back, finishing I think fourth. You've also been hot at that track. Do you think this is where you can really make that turn, put it on at this moment?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: It's a good track for me, so I go there hopeful for a strong run. I've won I think three times at the track. I think my overall average finish there is pretty strong.

We're going in with lofty expectations and feel we should be up front.

Continued in part 2

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kevin Harvick , Jimmie Johnson