Martinsville II: Winning team interview

Winners of the Subway 500 at Martinsville Speedway JIMMIE JOHNSON and CHAD KNAUS, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS, met with members of the media for a post-race press conference and discussed today's race, winning again at Martinsville Speedway, paying ...

Winners of the Subway 500 at Martinsville Speedway JIMMIE JOHNSON and CHAD KNAUS, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS, met with members of the media for a post-race press conference and discussed today's race, winning again at Martinsville Speedway, paying tribute to the members of the Hendrick Motorsports family who perished in the plane crash, difference in their car setups, relationship with Jeff Gordon and members of No. 48 team, Chase strategy, remaining four Chase races and other topics:

Select quotes from driver press conference

THIS IS YOUR 30TH NASCAR CUP VICTORY. THAT'S QUITE A FEAT:

JIMMIE JOHNSON: "Yes, it is. That's a big number. I can't believe it only took six years to do that."

THIS IS YOUR SEVENTH WIN OF THE YEAR AND FOURTH WIN AT MARTINSVILLE AND YOU HAVE WON THREE STRAIGHT HERE, SWEEPING THIS YEAR AND LAST FALL'S RACE. YOU CUT INTO JEFF GORDON'S POINT LEAD A BIT. YOU'RE 53 POINTS BACK. TAKE US THROUGH THE RACE. YOU'VE GOT TO FEEL GOOD ABOUT HOW YOU RUN AT THIS TRACK:

JIMMIE JOHNSON: "The day was pretty good for us across the board. I probably wasn't the best driver on the short runs. But as the run would go on and the track would get slick and line selection became important, I'd really start to come to life and we had the car set-up how I needed it to really take advantage of things. Throughout the day I feel like we had one of probably the top two or three cars. The No. 24 (Jeff Gordon) at times was really stout and it seemed like it was in control of the event, but there at the end it looked like things slipped on him a little bit and our car was really coming into it's own. I was hopeful that it was going to stay green because over the long haul I was better. And we had so many cautions there at the end; I certainly was nervous and a little vulnerable I think, too. I was able to still hang onto it and get it done."

CHAD KNAUS: "I'm obviously very, very happy with the way the car performed today and with what Jimmie did. He's really learned to get around this place very, very well in a short period of time. It's hard to believe that we've got almost as many victories here as we do at Lowe's Motor Speedway. But it's phenomenal. The guys came in here with a different mindset than what we had here in the spring. We were a little apprehensive yesterday after practice of what we wanted to do to the race car. We really dug in deep and put our heads together and came up with a set-up that we thought was going to be good but didn't know for sure. Fortunately enough it really suited Jimmie well. Over the long haul, our car was very fast. On the short run, we weren't quite as fast as we needed to be, but it all worked out."

WHAT DID YOU THINK WHEN YOU SAW JEFF GORDON ON YOUR BUMPER? AND WHAT DO YOU THINK OF HIS NEW NICKNAME FOR YOU, MR. MARTINSVILLE?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: "The circumstances were different. I was chasing him down at the end and was able to get by him. So I didn't have the same set of emotions as I did in the spring race where he was actually a little better than us at reeling us in and I was just kind of up there hanging on and was able to. I really felt good. And there was a restart before, maybe it was the restart that (Ryan) Newman got by him, I was able to pull away from him and then I felt real good about the No. 24. And then the No.12 got by him and I was excited to see that because of the points that I would hopefully gain on the No. 24. But then I'm like, oh, Ryan's hungry. He hasn't won in a while and he's going to be very aggressive if we have a caution. I had a great lead and then the caution came out a couple of more times and I was luckily able to keep him behind. But I was more worried about the No. 12 today than the No. 24 in the closing laps."

COMING INTO THIS RACE, EVERYBODY TALKED ABOUT YOU AND JEFF GORDON GETTING ALONG. WAS THAT A PROBLEM? DID YOU THINK ABOUT THAT TODAY?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: "No, I'm happy to see in these last few weeks, people have had more of an inside look at the respect and competitive nature that the No. 24 / 48 has for each other, not only drivers but teams and crew chiefs and everyone. There is no one that we want to beat more than the No. 24. We know what they have. We know how good they are. And they make us step up week after week. And I feel that we do the same for the No. 24. Being a competitor, I don't want to lose. I don't want to lose the championship. I want to win the championship. Maybe it's our mindset as a team, but I don't focus on the leader of a race or the leader of a championship and think I hate that guy and I hope he wrecks or this or that (laughs). I race people with respect. I have respect for what everybody does out there. And when it gets to my teammates and to Jeff Gordon who has mentored me through all these years, there is even more respect. And he has respect for me because I'm able to get to that line and race him hard. And I also have that respect for him. Today we raced hard. We leaned on each other from time to time, but in the end, he came over to victory lane. I can't say how much that impressed me. The last two weeks he won. My bottom lip was dragging the ground so hard I couldn't even make it to victory lane to congratulate him and then the guy comes over and congratulates me. So, he's certainly a class act and a great leader for Hendrick Motorsports."

JEFF GORDON SAID YOU AND HE HAVE DIFFERENT DRIVING STYLES. CAN YOU EXPLAIN WHAT HE MEANT BY THAT?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: "Yesterday we got into a long discussion during our team debrief about technique and how we drive the track and people would think that we'd be holding back information and things like that, but we got into a long discussion about the differences in the way Jeff drives a car. If you look at our set-up sheets, they're completely different. But we still end up with the same speed and end result. And the way we use the brake and the brake and the steering wheel on corner entry is much different between us. He has just a different style that suits his car and set-up from track to track and I have a different one. Today I think I want more his direction with my line and with my technique and it made it work at times; I also feel that based on our conversation there were times I saw Jeff running more of a No. 48 or Jimmie Johnson line that became helpful and useful for him. We bring the best out in each other. If we can learn that little bit from one another, we can ensure the company success. We can ensure to make our teams better and ideally if we drove the same and had the same set-ups, we could work closer together than we do now, which is hard to imagine, and make our stuff even better."

HOW DOES MR. HENDRICK HANDLE THIS?

CHAD KNAUS: "I can't imagine how tough it is for Mr. H. He does everything he can to reassure what we're doing on top of the pit box, whether it be calls or what have you. When something happens, like when the No. 24 had a problem on pit road and he scurried off down there and patted those guys on the back a little bit. So he's busy; like a queen bee running back and forth making sure everything is all right. But it's got to be tough for him because of the fierce, competitive nature of our organization. But he thrives on that. He loves it. He loves the fact that we're battling amongst ourselves. And it's got a lot of pride for him."

-credit: gm racing

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Jimmie Johnson
Teams Hendrick Motorsports