Martinsville II: Johnson, Stewart post-race interview

Jimmie Johnson -- ...

Jimmie Johnson -- #48 Lowe's Chevrolet
3rd position

TELL US ABOUT YOUR DAY

Johnson: It was a great performance for us today. We ran in the top 10 throughout the whole day. You know, played the game smart, did what we needed to do and got the track position to get behind the #24. I didn't feel I was better than the #24. I think I was one of the better cars in the long run and short run. It took me a little bit to get going. Just really, all in all there was a lot of guys in the Chase that had some problems and it's going to be a battle to the end. The way it looks, I'm not sure how the points lay out but I'm sure we're down by five or ten now and we'll just go on to the next one.

Tony Stewart -- #20 The Home Depot Chevrolet
2nd position

TELL US ABOUT YOUR RACE AND GETTING BY GREG BIFFLE

Stewart: Yeah, the unfortunate thing is I think Greg (Biffle) was a lap down. I don't really understand why he held up Jimmie first and then held me up. So, kept both of us from having a chance to close in. It was a solid day for us. Obviously starting up there on the pole and a good pit selection. Just a solid day, we just never could get it 100% right. When the track started cooling off, Jimmie and Jeff really started getting it going good. Late in the race, we got by Biffle there and we got a chance to get by Jimmie on the restart. (I did) the same thing that Jeff did in the spring and the same thing that Jeff did to me at Bristol I think in 2000, just get that fender underneath there and that's all you need. Just enough for us to get underneath Jimmie and got him loose and we went under and that was pretty much the end of it. There was no catching Jeff. I don't know what makes him so fast at the end of the day like that, he was just too strong to keep up with.

RE: GETTING BY BIFFLE AT THE END

Johnson: Yeah, I was wondering what he was racing for. There wasn't any other car up there close to being the next car to be one lap down. And I felt a little bit better when I noticed him giving everybody else a hard time and realized it wasn't just me. So, I was a little confused but maybe his strategy was to race hard and a caution would come out in the process. But just that, I'm not really sure.

ARE YOU GETTING THE FEELING IT WILL COME DOWN TO A RACE BETWEEN YOU TWO?

Johnson: I think as the weeks wear on, it's going to be a smaller group of cars. I still think it's too early to count anybody out. There's a lot of good tracks for the #16, #97. The #6-I don't know where he ended up today but still a lot of racing left. When you think of a DNF taking 100+ points out or 130 out, anything can happen. Right now we're racing as hard as we can. There are a lot of guys to look at. Tony's been very strong. He's going to continue to be very strong. Those are some good tracks for him. And we've just got to live week to week. That's how it is for us for now.

Stewart: What he said. It's easy to follow Jimmie when he speaks because he's pretty much on the money. You know, at this point I think everybody looks at Jimmie and us as two of the guys. Like Jimmie said, you can't count any of the other guys out either. Anything can happen. We've had two bad races and got us in this position. Jimmie's had one bad race. You know, everybody is going to have little things happen. With four weeks to go, you can't narrow it down yet. It's too early. The math is how you do it. Mathematically, everybody is still in it. As long as everybody is mathematically in it, I don't know how you can count anybody out of it.

RE: PRE-RACE DISCUSSIONS AROUND YOUR TWO TEAMS, MIND GAMES, ETC?

Stewart: I'd say it started yesterday. We were listening to Jimmie's frequency. And it wasn't Jimmie. It was, of all people, his crew chief, trying to play games like we used to do in seventh grade. And what I used to do in sprint car racing to get in those guys heads. You know, you're smarter than that. Like I said, somewhere down the road it's going to catch up with him. I wouldn't do it to Jimmie, but when you got a guy with the things like Chad was saying on the radio, it's like being inside a kindergarten room listening to it. It definitely doesn't make you want to work with somebody, but at the same time, when you've got a friend, it's hard not to put that above what his crew chief is doing. You know, like everybody knows, the two of us are going to be two guys who are racing for the field and hopefully it will be between the two of us for sure. It's just too early to count anybody out. Good teams are probably going to hurt each other to open up the door to let somebody get a run on them.

Johnson: Well, I'm not sure what was passed onto Tony what was being said, but I have to say we wanted to go out and see how we were against other cars. His car was fast, so we got out and ran behind him, ran with him. He let us by, we went by and did our thing. Being positive and trying to pump the team up, stuff gets said on the radio like we've got a better car or we've got those guys frustrated. It's stuff that takes place all the time. If there's somebody out there in practice that is running better than us, we want to get out there and run with them and run around them. So, that's what yesterday was and it's your guys' job to twist it and turn it and find something to write about it and have fun with it.

ARE THERE ANY MISGIVINGS ABOUT WHAT CHAD SAID?

Johnson: What did he say?

APPARENTLY CHAD SAID THAT HE WANTED IT TO BE KNOWN HOW STRONG YOUR CAR WAS RELATIVE TO TONY AND WANTED TO GET INTO TONY'S HEAD

Johnson: Like I said, you try to go out and practice and run with good cars. You see, especially on a short track, you don't have any aero issues to deal with. I can learn a little bit what he's doing behind the wheel. I did that a couple years ago with Tony and followed him around and found three or four tenths around this track. So, if we can run with them and get them thinking about us or talking about us, I guess we're doing our job.

AROUND LAP 300 WITH A RESTART WITH A DISABLED CAR, DID YOU KNOW THE CAR WAS THERE AND HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?

Stewart: I saw it. The spotter said 'green, green, green' and told us the car was there. That's probably the scariest restart I've ever been a part of. I don't know how they could throw the green flag like that. I don't know if it's just miscommunication with race control. Ask NASCAR about it. Luckily he was down to get by safely. But, it really surprised me when my spotter said they threw the green.

-gm racing-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Tony Stewart , Jimmie Johnson