JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - Bud Pole Winner: "Obviously we're very pleased with our lap today. A couple of things led to the faster times. The colder weather was one. And all these teams are working harder and harder to...
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - Bud Pole Winner:
"Obviously we're very pleased with our lap today. A couple of things led to the faster times. The colder weather was one. And all these teams are working harder and harder to find speed that in 12 months' time, you need to be four-tenths faster. It was a great lap for us. Mike Skinner and Dale Jr. definitely stopped my heart when I saw their names flash up on the board. I'm just very happy to be in this position and to have the race cars that I have every week that my race team gives me. We have fun; we communicate.
"It's been a great year. Looking back on last week, I wish we could have finished. Matt (Kenseth) had a bad day and it would have been nice to make up some point on him there. But we're just going to keep our heads down and take each race as it comes and see how this whole deal plays out. I think it's taken an interesting turn right now. The No. 17 is maybe running into a bad luck stretch that the rest of us have been in throughout the year. It's going to be a wild seven races to the end."
IS SOME OF THE SUCCESS THAT JEFF GORDON HAS HAD HERE TRANSFERRING OVER TO YOU?
"I think so. Our set-ups are very similar. Mine ended up being a little bit looser that his. We're very close on set-ups and his success definitely plays over. I think that Chad (Knaus, crew chief) is a little bit more aggressive in some areas and it also gives the No. 24 a direction to go if they're not happy.
"We know we have a winning set-up to start with. We just fine-tune it from there. Things have continued to change each year. I think the shocks have changed so much from where we were last year. That showed up today. We were four-tenths faster. I don't think last year's set-up is exactly going to work, but it's a great starting spot."
ON THE TIRE SITUATION:
"I can't see there being a tire problem. It's not like Dover where you know you're just annihilating that right front every corner. You're going so fast here that the entries to the corners are pretty touchy.
If you lose it on the entry, your angle is wrong and everything is wrong and you're going to hit really hard. At these speeds and with the shocks and everything that we're running to make these cars go faster, if you're not right, it's a handful. Once you hit the sweet spot, everything is great. But it is a very narrow window to make the car right and drivable."
WITH THE SPEEDS BEING FASTER THIS YEAR, WILL THAT MAKE THE GROOVE NARROWER?
"I think the weather has a lot to do with the speeds being up. If it stays overcast and cool, it's probably going to be a single groove track. But even if the temperatures aren't necessarily up, but the sun is beating on the track, it will make the second and third grooves come in for us. I'm just scared that if there are a lot of clouds, it will be a follow the leader race."
ON THE FASTER SPEEDS
"I think the speeds have come up. NASCAR is understanding more and more how we're working things over and finding speed. And then they come through and make a change and that bumps us back 5mph as a group. We go to work and try to find somewhere that they're not paying too close attention and find another advantage. It's just a constant game of cat and mouse. It's just finding somewhere new to look. And they are tightening up the bodies so much more on us for next year that we're probably going to start of the year a little slower. Speeds might be down some. And then speeds will come back some. It's just a continual game."
ON RUNNING AT KANSAS:
"My Busch Team owners that I drove for, the Herzogs, are from the area. We ran ASA at I-70 and was able to run well there. I think of Kansas and I smile because I've been here a lot. I've been up to St. Joseph, Missouri a lot and spent a lot of time there. It's just nice to be back. This track has always worked well for me. I get good feelings all the way around when we come back. On a day like today, that makes it even better."