Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet Impala spoke with the media about the win at Infineon Raceway, the new racing surface at Daytona and other topics. Q&A's WITH JIMMIE JOHNSON: CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE MOMENTUM HEADING INTO...
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet Impala spoke with the media about the win at Infineon Raceway, the new racing surface at Daytona and other topics.
Q&A's WITH JIMMIE JOHNSON:
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE MOMENTUM HEADING INTO NEW HAMPSHIRE AFTER COLLECTING YOUR FIRST ROAD COURSE WIN?: "Definitely excited for New Hampshire. It's been a good track for us and hopefully we can get back to victory lane. If not, then I'm expecting a good top-five run up there. Hopefully we can learn a lot there this weekend that will prepare us for the Chase. The road course win was awesome and I am just so proud of it. We ran so good all day long, all weekend long for that matter. As everybody knows, there's been a lot of effort put into it from myself to the team. Just a very rewarding day of racing that I'm very, very proud of."
DOES IT BOTHER YOU TO NOT BE LEADING IN THE POINTS RIGHT NOW AND IS THAT A GOAL?: "It's definitely a goal. I was very excited about having the lead when we did earlier in the year and hated to see it slip away. It's kind of a funny thing though, if you're not leading and you're still in a comfortable spot in the Chase, I guess you start telling yourself, 'I don't want to lead right now.' At the end of the day, we all want to lead as often as possible and as much as possible. I think it's good for the team to experience that pressure and to have that mindset on the outside chance that it sends a message to the garage area that you could potentially be in the other competitor's heads, I think it's an advantage. I think (Kevin) Harvick has done a great job this year leading the points and making a statement that he and his team are championship contenders this year."
DID YOU EVER FEEL LIKE YOU WERE BEHIND THE JOE GIBBS RACING DRIVERS?: "I would have to say the way they've been here the last month or so, I would say that we feel like we're behind. When we won our races at the start of the season, we didn't really have the dominant car in those races. I think we led some laps from time to time. I could see where the competition had closed up and knew that we needed to go to work and find some speed. Just the evolution of racing, it happens every year in different parts of the season. So that has led us to trying new things, experimenting with some stuff. Over long periods of time, I guess you can average it all out and figure out, 'Where do we fit and how have our performances been?' I think we've been a little behind them. It doesn't bother me to say that we've been a little bit behind them here. The good thing for all this is that we still have some time before the Chase starts to get our stuff together and get it how we need it. I'm not disappointed. You're going to have these moments throughout any season and it's just about going to work right now and finding some more speed."
DO YOU NEED TO BE AWARE OF DRIVERS WHO MIGHT BE GIVING PAYBACK TO OTHER DRIVERS DURING THE RACE OR DO YOU RELY ON YOUR SPOTTER FOR THAT INFORMATION?: "I'll be aware of that. I guess I didn't see all that went on, but if my spotter sees something or if Chad (Knaus, crew chief) sees the potential for something on track, we usually talk about it a little bit just to make me aware. But in most cases, it's very apparent from the driver's seat what is coming. You see things and how the race is going on. If someone's being stubborn or if someone is setting up an opportunity. It's usually pretty noticeable from inside the race car."
DO YOU NEED TO KEEP A LIST ON YOUR WHEEL OF WHO IS ANGRY AT WHO?: "No, not necessarily. Again, the spotter's will say, 'Hey, those guys in front of you got into it last week.' He will just make me aware of it if it looks like it's getting heated."
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THIS BEING THE LAST RACE ON THE OLD RACING SURFACE AT DAYTONA?: "For the sport, I think the new surface is going to be really good for us. I predict that you'll see much more of a Talladega-style race with the new asphalt. It's great for the fans, the driver's don't necessarily like it. We like Daytona right now because you actually need to handle, you need to know how to drive the car around the bumps and run the right line. Things that we do inside the car really make a difference. With the new surface, it's going to throw all that out the window. I am a little disappointed, but I certainly understand the issue with the track and the fact that they need to fix it. At some point every track has to be repaved and right now it's Daytona's turn."
IS THERE GOING TO BE MORE BUMP DRAFTING NEXT WEEK AT DAYTONA?: "The bump draft is going to be much more difficult to pull off at Daytona. You can see it on the straightaways, but we won't be able to lock up bumper to bumper on the turns. That potential exists when they repave it and get the bumps out of the race track or next year, but this year, people are going to be aggressive and it's a night race so there is more grip. I think you'll see more action-packed race than a day race because we're strung out due to handling purposes."
DOES YOUR GRAND-AM EXPERIENCE TEACH YOU MORE ABOUT ROAD RACING?: "It definitely introduces new things to my mind from a driving standpoint with techniques and then also, it sounds a little weird, but just the fact that you're working on the handling characteristics of that car and what they focus on. On ovals we focus on certain areas and they are not really the same areas that you focus on when you're road course racing. I've had great equipment on road courses, but have needed a little different feel than what Jeff (Gordon) has been after. He had success when I first came into Hendrick Motorsports and I just couldn't run his pace with his stuff. I just didn't have it. Over the last few years, we've really developed a setup that I like, that I need and running these other races has helped me gain confidence in the adjustments needed to get there and to take our car setup there."
DO YOU STUDY MENTAL METHODS OR DO YOU JUST 'WING IT?': "I just kind of wing it. I have access to a variety of people that the team uses and have certainly been involved with different programs, but nothing that I go to week in and week out. I've just been aware of myself in my own mind and kind of where I'm at mentally and focus on that. Both history of trial and error, mistakes and all of that helps me evolve into who I am today and mainly wing it from there."
ARE YOU CONCERNED THAT JOE GIBBS RACING HAS TALKED ABOUT SAVING SOME CARS OR SPEED FOR THE CHASE OR DO YOU BELIEVE THAT PRACTICE IS WIDESPREAD?: "I find it hard to believe that people are sitting on technology and sitting on speed. I do understand preserving some cars. For whatever reason, certain cars do well. With the rules as tight as they are, it's hard to believe it, but it really does happen. We have our fleet of cars and special cars to us that we try to be smart with and hope to have them in the Chase. We still run our cars, it's not like we have four or five of them sitting on the side that we don't use. I would love to be in that situation, I could say that out of the four championships that I've won, we haven't been sitting on speed and saying that we're going to save it for the Chase. The garage area is so competitive that week in and week out, you have to bring your 'A-game' and try to refine it and make it better. They could be, I would be shocked and if that's the case, they're in a great situation. Regardless of what they're doing, we know we're weak right now and we need to find speed in a few areas. What we've always been good at is focusing on what we need to do, not what everybody else is doing. If we maintain our normal mindset and focus on making our cars as strong as possible, I feel that we'll be competitive come September."