Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Lowe's Monte Carlo SS - Qualified on the pole "I got a little loose off of (turn) four coming to the checkered flag. I'm not sure how much that hurt me if at all. Either way, a great performance by the Lowe's team. I hope...
Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Lowe's Monte Carlo SS - Qualified on the pole
"I got a little loose off of (turn) four coming to the checkered flag. I'm not sure how much that hurt me if at all. Either way, a great performance by the Lowe's team. I hope to be in the top five so we can get a nice pit stall pick from there. I'm very happy with everything they got done on the race car and it was a good clean lap.
"I am happy with the effort of our Lowe's Monte Carlo SS team. It is nice to get back to the track and perform well after a bad weekend like we had at Bristol. A great effort, I am proud of our team. Starting in the inside is a big advantage. We will get a great pit selection so we have that benefit to look forward to as well."
ON HIS QUALIFYING LAPS:
"A great performance for us today. We were strong in practice and as a driver it feels nice to go back out and qualify after you sit for a while and you haven't been out there in the rhythm of things to come back out and deliver and not really make a big mistake on the track. I was very happy with that. It was a clean lap. I didn't know if I was going to be faster than Jamie (McMurray). We just edged him out by a small amount, just a great day for us."
HOW GOOD IS IT TO HAVE A GOOD QUALIFYING EFFORT AFTER YOUR FINISH IN BRISTOL? WAS YOUR STRONG QUALIFYING THE RESULT OF SOMETHING YOU PUT ON THE CAR?
"We didn't change a thing coming this week. In our eyes we didn't have a chance to race in Bristol. We had a great practice. We were very excited about the race. I felt like we had a great car. We started the race with a flat tire. Then I made a mistake trying to get my lap back racing Matt (Kenseth) real hard and got into the outside wall. That was my bad there. I feel like it would have been a top five or top 10 day for us at Bristol. We just had some bad luck. We went and tested two days at Lowe's Motor Speedway with Goodyear. Then we came here and really haven't talked about Martinsville too much. We haven't put any more pressure on ourselves than we typically would. We came in and had a great practice and a great qualifying effort."
WHAT HAPPENED AT TESTING?
"I have to say the first day I was really pleased with the tire, we had a different mold that we started on which we'd currently been racing with. Then they put the new mold on the car and I thought it really improved the driving, the feel of the car. I had a lot of great feedback on it. All the compound stuff we're doing is going really well. We rolled into the second day and I went out and made a 30-lap run to start the day. It was on my second 30-lap run when we had the right rear go down. It was really a shock to me. I didn't feel like we had a tire problem. I was very pleased with the way the car was driving, the wear and everything was showing like we were really doing some good things and developing a strong tire for that track and then we had our problem. I was caught off guard and didn't expect it, backed one in and left bright and early."
IS IT MORE IMPORTANT TO QUALIFY UP FRONT HERE?
"In some ways I think pit road is more treacherous here than anywhere else and having that first pit pick - here it's the biggest advantage in my opinion. I think Bristol is a close second. I think on-track Bristol is tougher to pass than here. After some time goes by, if your car isn't handling right here, you can't stay on the bottom and other guys can find their way by. Track position is important at both tracks but I think Bristol it's a little more weighted on track position side and here pit road is a huge advantage with qualifying up front."
ON THE TRACK CONDITIONS AT CHARLOTTE:
"It rained part of the first day and we got the second half in. The first groove started to come in and it wasn't really too wide. There was only four cars there so it's really unfair for me to say what the track is going to be like. There's a lot of grip. It's really smooth. It's still Lowe's Motor Speedway in my opinion. The transitions into the corners are still very similar, just the majority of the bumps are gone. So there's a lot of speed that goes along with that."
WILL THE TIRE BE CORRECTED?
"I'm not sure since I left so early on the second day. I know there were three cars there still running. I'm not sure where they ended up with compounds and all that. I have heard they're going to go back again next Tuesday. With that in mind, I don't think they're satisfied yet and they're still trying to figure it out. I really didn't think we were going to have a problem. We had a great first day. I went out and made one long run and life was good. I came in and put new tires on and went out for a different run and that's when I had my problem. My tire failed right about the period of time when the tires were failing when we were there in the fall, right about the 25-lap mark."
DO YOU USE ANY SET-UPS OR NOTES FROM JEFF GORDON?
"Here over the last two years we have our own style of set up that fits my driving style and Chad's as a crew chief. Prior to that we came identical to the 24. My feelings were until I can run or outrun Jeff with the same set-up and same stuff, I have no business trying anything else. This race track is so demanding on the driver, you can create a lot of different problems. I really just wanted to stick with Jeff's set up and had some success with it early. I think it was the fall race of my rookie season. Tony (Stewart) was leading and lapped me. I fell in behind Tony and learned a lot about this race track. I was able to get the lap back and I think I finished decent in that race too. Really being out there following someone like Jeff or Tony that are really good on these short, flat-tracks helped me find the right rhythm and really drive the car the way I need to around here."
ON WHAT YOU SAW ON PIT ROAD LAST WEEKEND AFTER THE RACE:
"Marty and I were having a good time on the radio show. I think Marty was busting his chops more than me for obvious reasons. From what I saw he was trying to get to pit road and when he got there Matt (Kenseth) was walking towards him. I don't think any driver ever wants to be in the position of sitting in their race car when someone is coming to the window. You're a sitting duck inside the car. I think Jeff was trying to get out of there as fast as he could. They met in the middle and Jeff's arms were in front of him and Matt was going backwards."