JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS met with media and discussed his success at Martinsville, the testing ban, changes to the All-Star race, adding more short tracks to the schedule, and more. WITH YOUR PAST SUCCESS AT MARTINSVILLE AND GOOD...
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS met with media and discussed his success at Martinsville, the testing ban, changes to the All-Star race, adding more short tracks to the schedule, and more.
WITH YOUR PAST SUCCESS AT MARTINSVILLE AND GOOD RUN LAST WEEK AT BRISTOL, COULD THE NO. 48 TEAM BE MAKING SOME MOVES RIGHT NOW? "Yeah, I think so. Last weekend we did a very good job of executing and not making big mistakes to take us out of a top-three, top-five finish. I feel at that last (pit) stop, the car kind of rocked on the jack and affected the left rear tire change and it hurt us. I'm not sure we could have won, but we would have had a very good change at it if we got out of the pits like we'd hoped. So one small mistake there that really isn't someone's fault, it was just circumstances of the car rocking on the jack. But, great stuff. We've had fast cars and it was nice last weekend to not only talk about having a fast car, but to deliver and show what we have. I'm fired up about this weekend and looking forward to everything that this track has to offer. Hopefully we can qualify. I'm excited to be here. If it rains, that's cool, but at the same time I want a shot at that first pit stall. It's so important here and I'd hate to give it up to (Jeff) Gordon because Gordon's going to be so tough here come race time."
ARE YOU AND JEFF GORDON BIGGER RIVALS ON THE MARTINSVILLE TRACK THAN ANYWHERE ELSE? "Yeah, I think the track allows you to beat and bang a little bit more. He certainly showed me that it was okay to beat and bang with your teammate like that (laughs). So if he's in front of me, I'm not going to feel bad about roughing him up. This track has been good to both of us. I think it's conducive to bumping and banging and hopefully it comes down to a Hendrick fight at the end. I'd love for it to be that. Hopefully it's all four of our cars. I think Mark (Martin) is going to be great here. This is a great track for (Dale Earnhardt) Junior. So in a weird way I'm hoping it comes down to us."
WHY IS THE GRANDFATHER CLOCK SO SPECIAL TO WIN AND WHERE DO YOU HAVE ALL YOURS? "I have one in my office. And then I have kind of a warehouse I put together and I have the other four displayed there. They're just awesome. I think the size of the trophy really gets our attention. It could be a $4 plastic trophy, but if it were eight feet tall we'd all love it. Just the size and taking a big trophy home is really cool. But it is a beautiful trophy that they've done a great job with. I've built a special spot for them and have lights shining on them and they look really good."
ON THE CHANGES TO THE ALL-STAR RACE "I've started to look through it and I couldn't understand all the changes and why. I mean, I could understand the changes, but I don't understand necessarily why. I guess a 10-lap shootout at the end will make it exciting. I get that portion of it. But it seems like they've added another segment in there too, as well. Right? A longer one? Wasn't it 40, 30, 20?
LAST YEAR IT WAS FOUR 25'S "Shoot, I can't even keep up with it. Those last ten laps; it's time to go is what it boils down to (laughs). I get that aspect of it. I don't know why we need to be out there for so many miles beforehand. Let's just have two segments. Let's have one 10-lap race. If you want to see some stuff happen, let's just have a 10-lap shootout for a million bucks. Let's not drag it on (laughs)."
ON THE 50TH RUNNING OF THE 600 "I'm looking forward to it. I know we live in a world where we'd love to see shorter races, but I think it is really special and unique for our sport to have a 600-mile race. It sounds odd, but it changes the whole way we think about a race. The track is very difficult to stay on top of the changes, day to night; and as you race on the short tracks, you have a mental clock for what a 50-lap feature is like or a 25-lap feature. Then you go to a touring division and you know what a 150-lap race is and on and on. We're all so well programmed for a 500-mile race that the extra 100 miles really changes the way things go. Personally, I like the challenge and really enjoy that race and have had success at it and hopefully we can do that again this year."
IF NASCAR OFFICIALS WERE THINKING OF CHANGING THE SCHEDULE AND ADDING ANOTHER SHORT TRACK, WHAT WOULD YOU THINK ABOUT THAT? "I would love to see more short tracks on the circuit. It puts on a better show. I think the fans get a better experience up close and personal with all that goes on. There is more side-by-side racing and bumping and banging and all that stuff the fans enjoy. The argument about the seating capacity, I think that Bristol has shown you can put seats around the track. I know you lose one aspect of the motor home camping and that aspect, but again, outside of the race track there were plenty of motor homes at Bristol. I would encourage NASCAR, if they were to bring in new tracks, to look at that and eliminate some of these tracks that are struggling to fill up one show, let alone two, and build some more action-packed tracks."
REGARDING RIVALRIES, IF YOU FOCUS ON BEATING ONE GUY, DOES IT BECOME A DETRIMENT TO YOUR TEAM BECAUSE IF YOU BEAT THAT GUY, YOU MIGHT NOT BEAT EVERYBODY ELSE? "Yeah, I'm with you. I do know that if you just worry about one person all the time you're going to short yourself and not focus on someone else. But at least in recent memory, it seems that one guy is on fire. Last year, the No. 18 (Kyle Busch) started the year and we all focused on the No. 18. And then the No. 99 (Carl Edwards) was steady throughout the whole and for our championship battle that's who we were focused on the most, in the later stages. But it is weird how you really do just focus on a car, or a couple of cars. From our standpoint, and we have the fortune of great equipment and tracks that are good to us and all those thing, that I've worked really hard to focus as much as I can on our team and doing our best job. Fortunately history has shown for us that if we do that, we leave with the results that we want and collect the points that we need and the end result comes to us. So, it really kind of goes back to the Darlington saying years ago where you race the race track. I try to race myself and race that given track. And I have more success doing that and not getting emotional and chasing somebody that's on a hot streak and getting caught up in that stuff. But it still does happen. As hard as I try, I still get caught up in it as well."
THE JURY IS EXPECTED TO DELIBERATE NEXT WEEK DOWN IN SOUTH FLORIDA, HOW CLOSELY ARE YOU PAYING ATTENTION TO THAT BECAUSE OF YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH ALAN MILLER? "I've been in touch with Alan and asking him how things are going. We've still been working as we typically do and working on new projects and a new motor home we're getting ready to buy and all the purchase agreements and all that stuff. So our relationship is still maintained and stayed the same. He's been gone a couple of days a week and working, really, around the clock in continuing to give his clients the level of service they need. But he hasn't been all that descriptive. He's given me some overviews that he feels very good about how things are going. He's just waiting for everything to come together. But his general impression has been positive about the way things have gone in Miami so far."
NOW THAT WE'RE FIVE RACES INTO THE SEASON, HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE TESTING BAN? "I think if you're running well it's not a problem. And when you're off base is when you really wish that you could test. We've had fast cars and at this point we've been fine without the testing. I did a tire test at Lowe's Motor Speedway and it was nice to get back in that environment and work on some stuff. But for the short term, I think NASCAR has done a great job. I think that as much as I hat to admit it, I think that there are aspects of this that do save money and help the teams. I still think it would be nice to give the teams a chance to make their stuff better and you could have something based on where you are in points to allow everybody a chance to test and improve, but at the same time, help the guys that are off-base. That's my biggest concern. When you're off base, it's going to take you so long to catch up if you can't test. And that's something I probably look at."
ONLY FOUR ACTIVE DRIVERS HAVE MULTIPLE WINS AT MARTINSVILLE. YOU AND JEFF GORDON HAVE THE MOST. WHY HAVEN'T MORE GUYS GOTTEN IT, LIKE YOU GUYS HAVE, WHY DIDN'T THAT LIGHT SWITCH COME ON FOR THEM? "I don't know. I hope it doesn't (laughs). For me there is such a specific rhythm, and once I got it, it's worked. If I look for that rhythm and that feeling, good things happen. And I don't know why some guys haven't been able to get it. It is a very technical lap around here. So it's not the easiest thing to do and I've had the great fortune of good cars and a good starting point to work from with all of Jeff's success, and really Hendrick's success here. So, it's just all melted together and I say all this and hopefully I can go out there (for practice) in a few minutes and hit that rhythm and do what I need to. But it's just been a good place for us."
-credit: gm racing