Johnson Preseason Thunder - GM interview

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR THE '06 SEASON? "I feel really really good about it. We've been working hard over the off-season. Our speedway stuff is strong, but more importantly we feel like...

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO

WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR THE '06 SEASON? "I feel really really good about it. We've been working hard over the off-season. Our speedway stuff is strong, but more importantly we feel like we've made some good gains over the off-season on the intermediate stuff. In Dover, when they took away the rear shocks -- we had so much invested in the back of the car -- and after that, we were trying to get the front of the car optimized just like what everybody else was doing. So it just took us a while. The off-season was good for us. We're excited for the Vegas test. We're going to be ready for the championship. We just need to get through the first 26 (races) and save all of our energy and resources and victories for the final 10 so we can be the champions."

ON THE NEW '06 MONTE CARLO SS, DID YOU NOTICE ANY SPECIFIC CHANGES DURING THE FIRST SESSION TODAY? "Those are fast lap times (in the morning practice session). I think we're already faster than what the pole was -- or it's real close. From the minute we've been on the track with the new body and new engine stuff, we've been flying. So it's been good. I could really tell the straight line speed was in the car. But we haven't really worked on the race package yet. It's really just been in qualifying trim. I can tell it's fast."

HOW IMPORTANT IS THE LAS VEGAS TEST GOING TO BE? "This year is going to be new for everyone. I think every test is going to have a lot of weight on it. We've got a procedure in place for the Vegas test (by) taking two different styles of cars to really try to make it a four-day test in a way, with two different cars, instead of just a single test with two cars. So we're really working through some things to try and maximize the two days that we have in Las Vegas."

DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW FITNESS-RELATED PLANS FOR THE NEW YEAR? "Nothing really new. Last year, I really made it through the entire year training on a weekly basis and getting a good three or four days in (each week). That's led me to think about other things I want to do -- like maybe run in a marathon or compete in a triathlon. I actually have goals this summer to try and break up my workout during the week and bike 20 miles one day and run five miles, which is easy to run, but get a long run in over five or six miles one day a week and try to swim at least a mile a week. I just want to understand what that would mean on my body so if I ever do get a piece of free time, I could compete -- well, not compete -- but at least finish a triathlon."

IS THERE A PARTICULAR MARATHON YOU HAVE YOUR EYE ON DOING? "Well, I'd really like to, but we don't have any weekends off to do it. The three off-weekends we have, I'm not going to be running in a marathon. I'm going to be on a beach somewhere relaxing."

ON HIS TRIP TO SOUTH AFRICA DURING THE BREAK "It was awesome. It was just such an amazing experience to travel that far away. I had different ideas as to what it would look like and what the experience would be like. I couldn't have been more impressed. South Africa is really a clean, beautiful country. We spent some time in Cape Town. I was completely amazed at how modern and technical the city was -- and how friendly everyone was. Everyone spoke English, so it was very easy for us to get around and survive in the city. And then we went on safari, which was an awesome experience. We followed lions for a couple of days -- and giraffes and elephants -- we saw everything. It was really just a fun experience. It was great to get out and do something different."

-gm racing-

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Series NASCAR Cup