JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS met with media and discussed track position at Martinsville, the tire test at Darlington, the progress the team has made by testing the past two weeks, his success at Martinsville, and more. YOU GUYS DON'T...
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS met with media and discussed track position at Martinsville, the tire test at Darlington, the progress the team has made by testing the past two weeks, his success at Martinsville, and more.
YOU GUYS DON'T LOOK LIKE CHAMPIONS RIGHT NOW. WHAT'S GOING ON? "Well, we're certainly learning (laughs). I think that we all get sucked into things that we think are predictable and we forget that this is racing and nothing is predictable. This is so tough and it's so easy to lose whatever you have. It's just a tenth or two-tenths of a second that can take you from a hero to a zero. We certainly have gotten off to a slower start than we wanted to. But we have had some good races through all that. California went well. Bristol was one of the most competitive Bristols I've ever had. We've been testing during the past two weeks. And I think we're a lot smarter and we're looking forward to Texas. We've just been working hard. Maybe we spent a little too much time worrying about last year's championship, but hell, I wouldn't trade that for the world. That's what we needed to do. I'm learning how to drive this car on the bigger tracks and we're learning how to set it up too.
ARE PEOPLE STILL OVER-REACTING ABOUT WHERE YOU ARE IN THE POINTS RIGHT NOW? "In some ways I think so. But we're not trying to distract anyone and to be honest, we don't like where we are either. But if you look at different stretches that we have had or that the No. 24 has had, or the No. 20 or any of the big teams, it's not uncommon to have four or five weeks stretch where they're not good races. We've been doing this long enough and we're trying not to overreact. But we still are reacting and we're trying to get back to our winning ways and the high expectations we have for ourselves outside of the expectations anyone else has of us."
COULD THERE BE A BETTER RACE TRACK THAN MARTINSVILLE TO GET YOU BACK ON TRACK? "I really think this is the best track we can come to to get back to our ways. I might not qualify stellar here. That's kind of hit or miss for me. But in the race, something clicks. That's just Martinsville. I'm really looking forward to this race. But I looked at Las Vegas as one of those tracks, but that didn't pan out for us. So I'm optimistic. But at the same time I know that this is racing. It's a tough deal. We've got to be on our game even here at one of our better tracks."
ON QUALIFYING AND THE IMPORTANCE OF TRACK POSITION AT MARTINSVILLE: "You either want to qualify really good, or really bad. And track position is important, especially later in the race. But the pit stall pick is your biggest problem. If you qualify 15th, you're forced to pit around other cars that are going to run at similar speeds. So it's almost better to qualify 30th so you can look at pit road and say all right, now this car doesn't typically run good here. We'll find somebody that's not up to speed and try to pit behind him and hope they go a lap down. So I want to qualify in the top three or in the back."
HAVE YOU TALKED TO JEFF GORDON ABOUT THE TIRE TEST AT DARLINGTON? "We talked briefly before this weekend and I look forward to catching up with him some more on it. They went back down for a make-up test. And by our brief conversation, it sounds like there were some good changes made. But the track is much different. It's going to take a while for it to get back to side-by-side racing and the Darlington that we're used to. Whenever you repave a track, it just kind of makes it single file. The speeds are so high there that it's going to be tough to run side-by-side I think for a year or two."
ON THE CHANCES OF WINNING FOUR IN A ROW AT MARTINSVILLE "It's been a great streak and we certainly want to keep it going. It would be nice to get a win under our belt and get this slow start to the season behind us. But it's a tough track. And it's a good track for a few cars so we're going to have to be prepared and on our game."
HOW MUCH OF WHAT YOU LEARN AT MARTINSVILLE CARRIES OVER FROM YEAR TO YEAR? OR, IS THIS A WHOLE NEW DEAL? "This is one of the tracks that doesn't change that much. Even with tires; even with the car of tomorrow or the regular car, it's still Martinsville. You're going slow enough here where more things stay the same at this track than other places. That's something I'm excited for and ready to get out there and get that going."
IS THIS SLOW START TO THE SEASON JUST LIKE WHAT YOU NORMALLY GO THROUGH EVERY SUMMER? 'There are tracks that we typically run well at. So in the summer slump, we've been used to running at those tracks so it's been a little easier to take and understand. But the tracks that we've been really good at, it's hard to understand why we've struggled. But times change. Racing is a tough sport. And we've just got to go to work and figure it out."
YOU'VE BEEN REALLY GOOD AT THE VIRGINIA TRACKS. WHAT IS IT ABOUT MARTINSVILLE AND RICHMOND THAT WORK FOR YOU? "Richmond is just now working for me. Last year was my best year by far there. Martinsville has been a great track for me. This is a quirky, small, little track that takes a lot of discipline to get around here and to be competitive. I'm hopeful that I can go to Richmond and run well. That's been one of my worst tracks in year's past. So, I was very relieved to have it come together and be a good track for me last year."
ON GOING TO TEXAS NEXT WEEK 'We're excited. We've spent a lot of time testing the last two weeks and I feel like we've made some great gains that will show up at places like Texas and hopefully correct our Las Vegas problem. Atlanta was terrible. We still ran competitively. We ran up front. We were on the lead lap and in the top 10 throughout the day. So it wasn't a terrible day, but I think we've learned a lot and learned what went wrong at Las Vegas and how we improve on our run at Atlanta."
-credit: gm racing