Johnson, Edwards - NASCAR teleconference, part 4

Continued from part 3 Q: You guys have some guys sitting in front of you that really didn't like each other on the racetrack and almost hated each other at times. Was that something that attracted you guys when you watched the sport on TV at a...

Continued from part 3

Q: You guys have some guys sitting in front of you that really didn't like each other on the racetrack and almost hated each other at times. Was that something that attracted you guys when you watched the sport on TV at a young age? And when you think about now, you two guys seem to really like each other a lot. Is that good for the sport, or do you think it would be better if you two guys hated each other like Pettys and Allisons?

CARL EDWARDS: I don't know. I mean, sport is what it is, and I think that Jimmie is a good guy. That's just the way it is. Sometimes I wish I could hate him a little more, make it more fun. But I just think he's a good guy. He's got a lot of respect for me and a lot of other guys. I don't know; you never know, though.

JIMMIE JOHNSON: I think it's good to have people that respect each other and teams that do, as well. I think we get warped into reality television shows and perspective that you need to be in fist fights and all these different types of things. What's wrong with good competition and people that respect each other and teams that respect each other? You'll see it in pro sports in football games or baseball games where guys are commending the other team on how prepared they are and how good a job they do. It works. I don't know why we have to be a circus act to make it a good show. Good competition and respect for one another should be plenty.

Q: Jimmie, I think it's safe to say that when you came into the sport full-time in 2002, you were not a heralded driver or phenom like some of the kids that are coming in today that everybody is expecting so much from. Looking back from that point to now, being where you are on this great precipice, could you ever have envisioned being where you are now, and is it at all surprising to you to be where you are?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: Absolutely it's surprising to me. There's no way I could have dreamed this big. I remember just being scared to death that I wasn't going to have a job in 2003. I mean, I'm getting into Jeff Gordon's cars, just won a championship with him, startup team and all the expectations that come with the situation that I was in. I was just worried about keeping a job and running well.

I remember going to Atlanta and I think we finished fifth at Atlanta, and I took a big deep breath and said, okay, I'm going to be okay. The three races I ran the year before didn't go so well, and I think I finished on the lead lap and tore up some cars.

The start of the season went okay, but nothing like I felt the expectations were. I didn't have a ton of confidence in what my abilities were because I had only spent two years in any division or car before that and won a race or two from time to time and usually finished in the Top 5 or Top 10 in points, but nothing with the hype that you see guys get today.

Definitely shocked and excited, and at times on my heels taken aback by what this team has accomplished, by what I've accomplished, because there's no way I could have dreamed this big.

Q: Jimmie, the 48 team seems right now it has a lot of common characteristics with some of the great all-time professional sports teams, the New England Patriots and New York Yankees. One difference is they had mascots, they had theme songs, fight songs. If you could pick a mascot and a theme song for your team, what would they be?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: The song that we continue to play over and over is Metallica's song "Nothing Else Matters," so that would be our song. The mascot I'll have to get back with you on. Does someone have an opinion? Jackass (laughter.) A lot of the guys like Captain Morgan, so we could make Captain Morgan's bottle out of it. Bud Light is not bad. I don't know what that mascot would be.

Q: I guess what kind of drew you guys together when you first were in Cup or the early days, or how did you guys get to meet in the garage? Carl, I think you've talked about times where you won races where Jimmie has texted or congratulated you afterwards. How did that start, and has this Chase brought you closer or created a little bit more of a divide because of the competition?

CARL EDWARDS: I wasn't paying attention to the first part of that. But I think that for me it's been - I think something that brings us closer together as competitors competing like this. You know, it's cool. The first time I met Jimmie Johnson, it was at Lisa Kennedy's house for that get-together she has before the season starts, and I don't remember if it was '01 or '02, but I think you were getting ready to start your first Cup race. What year was it?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: '02.

CARL EDWARDS: I didn't know anybody there, I didn't belong there. I don't know how I got invited. And here's this guy Jimmie Johnson that I guess was on the pole or something for the 500.

Man, we just kind of sat there on the steps, and we didn't really have anybody else to talk to. It was kind of cool. He was a really nice guy, and I thought, Man, that's a cool guy. It's neat to see someone like that succeed. To this day when we have a good run, Jimmie is one of the first people to come over and congratulate me, and when he has a good run, as much as it hurts us in the points sometimes or whatever, it's still good to see good people succeed.

As long as we got this relationship the way it is and we get along and respect one another, I think it's a good thing, and I enjoy it.

JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, I remember at Lisa's there we sat down, and like Carl said, there wasn't anybody else for us to talk to. We were just two guys that got an invite and didn't know anyone. And through it all, I'm a fan of racing, and Carl has raced anything and everything. I respect what he's done in all types of vehicles, and Joe watched him on Saturday at the Nationwide race and stuff.

I love racing. I love the people in racing. And as a fan of motorsports, I like knowing everybody. I like getting along with everyone.

And at the same time, I've had a lot of people - the reason I am here today is because a lot of people went out of their way to help me. A lot of people that had made it in their form of racing or in business, whatever it may be, somebody was nice enough to spend a little time to talk to me and work with me and show me the way or help me learn how to drive a car.

I remember Gary St. Amant when I was racing ASA cars, before I was racing I was going to test and I hadn't driven one yet, and I kept the poor guy up all night long asking him questions about Lucentite was, what was stagger, what was wedge, and I had no clue. He was patient and sat there all night long explaining stuff to me.

That's kind of where my personality comes from and why I find myself engaged in having friendships and stuff. One, I'm a fan; and two, I've had a lot of great people work with me, and if somebody has a question, I'll answer truthfully, I'll help out, because that's helped me get to where I am today.

Q: Jimmie, you said earlier you don't know how nervous you're going to be because you haven't worked yet this week. So I guess for both of you, what did you do this week, and did it include sobering up the Giles brothers?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: Thankfully it did. Thankfully they left Sunday night or else Monday would have been much more painful for me. I personally stayed Sunday night, had some fun in Phoenix and then flew home Monday. Got up in the morning on Tuesday, got a workout in and packed and came down, attended Juan's event Tuesday night. And then yesterday went and ran on the beach and stuff and just tried to wear myself out.

I've found that the more energy I use up during the day, the easier it is to sleep at night. So I've been working out a lot more in this Chase than others.

Last night I went and ate at Joe's, which was awesome. I saw DJ there having some dinner, and I went to the Black Crowes concert last night, watched that for a little bit. Then this morning shot a commercial, and then we have this and then I have a photo shoot after.

Tonight it's going to be very easy for me to sleep and roll into tomorrow's stuff.

It's been a busy week outside of the car, and I just want to get in the car and get to work. That's really when things kind of fall into place.

CARL EDWARDS: You've had a much more eventful week than I have. We flew back to Missouri and spent a couple days at home and got to hang out with my family and my friends a little bit, just a normal week. Came here for an Office Depot appearance yesterday.

The number one thing is we don't really have anything to lose. We just have to go do it and give it 100 percent. So it's been a pretty easy week for me.

I did try to take a moment and think about how I would feel if I were in Jimmie's position and to understand that that could be where we're at next year or the year after hopefully, or hopefully someday, and it made me take a moment and respect the stress level and what that might be like.

But definitely an easy week for me. We're in a fortunate position where we've got everything to gain.

Q: What is really going through your mind right before you get in the car and get ready to race? What is going through your head?

CARL EDWARDS: First thing, you have to find the closest restroom. That's key to getting a solid race in. The second thing is to - for me personally, I just try to remember where I came from, what I'm trying to accomplish, and that that race is going to end with the checkered flag, and what you do between now and when the checkered flag falls is going to dictate how it went. You don't get a second chance. That's what goes through my head.

JIMMIE JOHNSON: Mine is one, find the bathroom, and two, how did all these people get credentialed to be down here on the grid right now (laughter). Get away, let me get in the car and do my job. Then finally the National Anthem is over and I get in the car and I'm like, whew, put the net up so they can't take pictures, either. And then you go to work.

THE MODERATOR: That concludes the Q & A part of our event, and now for closing remarks, please welcome back today's guest emcee Mike Bagley of Sirius Satellite Radio.

MIKE BAGLEY: On behalf of NASCAR, Sprint, Ford and Homestead Miami Speedway, I want to thank everyone for attending today and helping us kick off Ford Championship Weekend.

We are on the precipice of breakout sessions out in the lobby. Kerry Tharp has more information on that, and also thank you to the hundreds of thousands and millions of fans tuning into the radio and television around the country. It's been a great 2008 season, and no doubt you two will make it even better on Sunday when you fight for the championship in the Ford 400.

-credit: nascar

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jimmie Johnson