Las Vegas: Johnson - Friday media visit

JIMMIE JOHNSON, DRIVER OF THE NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS, met with media members at Las Vegas Motor Speedway today and talked about track conditions, qualifying, Hendrick Motorsports' start to the season and much more. ON HIS THOUGHTS ABOUT ...

JIMMIE JOHNSON, DRIVER OF THE NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS, met with media members at Las Vegas Motor Speedway today and talked about track conditions, qualifying, Hendrick Motorsports' start to the season and much more.

ON HIS THOUGHTS ABOUT QUALIFYING BASED ON THE TEST SESSION IN JANUARY AND THE PRACTICE SESSION TODAY: "The conditions out there today are much different than what we had in the test session and I think a lot of guys are struggling with grip, so the test session wasn't totally useless but the heat of the day today compared to the cool temperatures it is much, much different. It's been a good challenge for us. The car had been really loose, we had a bunch of cautions off of turn four. The sun is sitting on that side of the speedway and getting those two corners really hot and that is going to make it really exciting. I go out early so I'm really not expecting a great qualifying effort today. We are going to try like hell but I just think with the sun being as hot as it is and as early as we go that the guys later in the session are certainly going to have an advantage. We will get all we can and I think we are off to a good start. California went well for us. The practice we've had so far has been very good for us and I'm looking forward to a good race."

ON WHY SO MANY CARS ARE LOOSING GRIP AND SPINNING IN PRACTICE: "The grip level is much different today than what we had in the test. At the test session we could drive really, really hard around this track and I think guys came out, including myself I had a couple of big moments fortunately didn't hit anything, I just had an idea of what I could run and how hard I could run, braking points, and where I should be back in the gas and the pace is much, much different than what I first expected. I think guys, not only in their driving styles but also the setups and what we got away with in the test session just isn't working right now. It's too warm. It's probably 30 to 40 degrees warmer in the air temperature today than what we had in the test session which means even higher yet on the black top."

ON HOW HE FEELS HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AS A TEAM HAS STARTED THE SEASON: b^0x001cMan it's only two races in. From our standpoint, we finished second and third last week and unfortunately two cars were wrecked early. Daytona is Daytona; we've thrown that out the window. We feel like we're doing just fine. We have nothing to fear, nothing to worry about. We have a lot to learn about the car. There's really no concern or issues on our behalf. At least three of the cars have been in the top 10 on speed. Jeff and I sat at top of the board throughout most of the day, so business as usual. Everything's great."

ON HIS ABILITY TO ADAPT TO CHANGES AT RACE TRACKS HE HAS HAD A LOT OF SUCCESS AT AND GOING FOR FOUR-IN-A-ROW THIS WEEKEND AT VEGAS: "I really don't know why that continues for us. I hope that we can keep it rolling and continue to do well here. I think we are off to a good start. I said something earlier this week in a teleconference that we did and it's more of us really hitting our stride at this track compared to other points in the season, really compared to California. So I just think we get here and we got a good sense of the car and really just get things right for this weekend and carry it on. Hopefully we can do that again. I'm kind of in a weird spot because I don't have anything telling me I can't win four in a row and nothing telling me I can. We ran well last week, Carl (Edwards) was much stronger at the end of the race so we know we have some work to do there. The car didn't drive perfect today so we still have a little bit of work to go, but this early in the season I think everybody shows up saying hey we've got a shot. We don't have good or bad really in our minds right now we're just rolling with it."

ON RYAN NEWMAN'S COMMENT THAT HE IS THE DRIVER TO BEAT THIS YEAR AND COMING INTO VEGAS WITH THE NEW CAR AND THE FIRST TIME ON A 1.5-MILE TRACK. "I appreciate Ryan saying that one, and two there's a lot of things that have changed from last year to this year as we all know with the cars. Even from the test session to now the cars are driving much different and the weather conditions are really playing into that. California was a really good indication for the teams, the direction, the set ups what to mess with and where to go and I would expect a better race this weekend than we had last. As we build on through this season all the teams get stronger and better driving race cars as we go. It is early; it's sort of a crapshoot. We are smarter now than we were at California, so directionally we are moving in the right way. But it's early and we are still kind of guessing right now."

ON THE PREDICITON OF HIGH WINDS FOR SUNDAY AND HOW HE FEELS THEY WILL AFFECT THE NEW CAR. "When we were out here for the test session it was really cool but we had high winds. The high winds really caused some problems. It was blowing into our back going into turn three and a couple of guys had some troubles with that and got into the wall. If the winds are blowing in that same direction, I think it's going to be a difficult race. And if the temperature stays up with those windy conditions, it will be really difficult out there."

ON GETTING KICKED OUT OF THE INSPECTION LINE AND LOOSING SOME TIME IN PRACTICE: "We could've used the extra time. It was probably 15 to 20 minutes we missed of practice. I guess one of the hard points, which I assume was on the nose, was off by 1/16 of an inch. NASCAR is really cracking down on everything going through the tech line. 1/16th is hard to believe that would keep you from getting on track, but it's the way it is and we had to go back through. Unfortunately there were some other drivers and teams that had to go back through and it just got us behind and we couldn't get the car out on time for the start of practice."

ON HOW THE UPCOMING RACES AT ATLANTA AND BRISTOL CAN AFFECT THE POINT STANDINGS AND WHAT TO EXPECT. "I definitely feel that same way, that a lot can change. I'm trying to be smart on track and make sure we get off to a good start with the points. It's something we have always been able to do and it's helpful. It lets us focus on the right things and really start pushing hard after you get past that five race mark. It may sound crazy, but we set goals and the first goal is to make sure we are in the top 35. That sounds remedial, but it's a tough business out there. If you look where the 88 and the 5 are right now, they've been running great just have had some bad luck go their way and we don't want to find ourselves in that situation either. I think a lot can change and with all the new things we have this year, it's really tough on everybody. It has a potential in race six of this season to have some guys get caught out. It really does have that potential. It's a handful right now and I think Atlanta is going to be really difficult to get these cars around and we get to Bristol and who knows with Bristol. That place is always crazy and stuff going on. That's a place I haven't had a lot of success at so I need to make sure I'm high in the points if I go to Bristol and have a bad week I'm not in trouble."

-credit: gm racing

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Series NASCAR Cup
Teams Hendrick Motorsports