Martinsville: Winning team interview, part 1

Post race winner's press conference: Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Impala SS - Driver Chad Knaus - Crew Chief Rick Hendrick - Team Owner ON TODAY'S RACE: JIMMIE: "I couldn't be more proud of the start that Hendrick Motorsports is off to. ...

Post race winner's press conference:
Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Impala SS - Driver
Chad Knaus - Crew Chief
Rick Hendrick - Team Owner

ON TODAY'S RACE:

JIMMIE: "I couldn't be more proud of the start that Hendrick Motorsports is off to. This is the fourth win for Rick this year. We have had a very strong current car program and the Impala SS program has been good for us. Kyle (Busch) won last week and this weekend's success with three cars in the top-four. All-in-all, just very proud of the effort that has gone in to it. It has been a lot hard work that has gone in to this. Our guys worked countless hours this week getting things prepared to come up here and then the race weekend we worked through some big changes as well to get the 48 car to where we needed it to be. I can't thank my guys enough for their hard work. A one-two finish out of the 24/48 shop is a huge accomplishment for us."

ON TODAY'S RACE:

CHAD: "It was really just typical Martinsville. It played out very similar to the way the race has in the past. Obviously there was a new element with the Impala SS, but our Impala ran really well. I was really happy. When we unloaded we weren't even close to where we needed to be. But thankfully we have great teammates, in the No.24, the No. 5 and the No. 25 for that matter. We were able to take the No.24 car setup and put it under our car and it really switched it on. It was great."

ON START THAT HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS HAS HAD TO THE 2007 SEASON:

RICK: "It is kind of one of those starts that you dream about. You would like to be in that position to take advantage of the cars running well. We have got a lot of momentum, everybody is working well together and the breaks have kind of gone our way. Like Chad and Jimmie said, a lot of hard work and I am real proud of these guys with their three wins already this year. We want to just keep building that momentum and get ready for the Chase."

ON THE LAST FEW LAPS BATTLING WITH JEFF:

JIMMIE: "It is very special for me, from before I started racing, I looked up to him. He was a guy that came from open-wheel dirt racing in general which was my background as well. So to race in a battle like that with Jeff Gordon, it was something that was really cool and I will always look back on.

"The race the way it kind of developed, it was a little bit better than me through the center of the turn and once every two or three laps, he lot harder and harder. But he couldn't really get position up along side of me off the corner. He got along side of me a few times in the braking zones, I held my own on the outside and was able to clear him again coming down the straightaway and then went back down to the bottom and defended my position.

"Hard racing and as Jeff may have said, I don't know how he could have hit me much harder. The way these bumpers line up, I just literally put my head up against the head rest and just wait for it because it was coming and it was coming really hard. Just good short track racing and think we really put on a good show for the fans. "

ON SAYING ANYTHING ON THE RADIO TO THE DRIVERS ABOUT NOT WRECKING EACH OTHER:

RICK: "Yes, I got on the radio to the drivers and was talking to the crew chiefs telling them to be patient. The cars were running together all day. You don't have to say much, I think everybody in the organization realizes that if we have a situation where one of the cars takes the other guy out, it is going to unravel a lot of hard work we have put in to this year. So you just cross your fingers and hopes every body keeps them straight."

ON WHETHER BUMPERS WERE BIGGER FACTOR IN THE RACE THAN PREVIOUS RACES:

JIMMIE: "When it comes to the end of the race, I don't think you could race much harder than we did today. I don't see anything changing. If it was the other car, I think it would have been a very similar race, the No. 24 and the No. 48 up towards the front. Between Jeff and Tony (Stewart) and our car, we have won a lot of races here over the last few years. I think it would have been easier for Jeff to move me with the bumpers the way they match up, the bottom line is Jeff couldn't get inside of me up off the turn. He could hit me in the center of the turn, but he couldn't get next to me. He got along side of me a few times in the braking zone and I was able to rally around the outside and clear him back on the straightaway and then defend the bottom. I don't know how you could race much harder.

"I can tell you this, I don't think I would have him as hard as many times trying to get by. He certainly was being aggressive and we did a good job for hanging on."

ON BEING NERVOUS ABOUT WHAT JEFF MIGHT DO:

JIMMIE: "Regardless of who is behind me. I don't really look at who is behind me in the teammate situation. That is Jeff Gordon and he wants that Grandfather clock and so do I and that is just what it boils down to. I don't race anybody out there in a negative way and rough people up and handle people that way. So if it is Jeff Gordon, if it is Tony Stewart, any of those guys, I race the same way. Believe me I was nervous up there. I wasn't sure if I could hang on especially as hard as he was hitting me in the center of the turn. But he could never get position, so I kept doing my thing."

ON WHAT HE WILL SAY TO JEFF:

RICK: "That happens when you run one-two out of the same stable. Once everybody thinks about and get home, I have learned to stay away from them for a little after it is over other than Good Job, Good Racing Everybody and Thank You. It is disappointing, these guys want to win. Nobody wants to run second to anybody and I think that is a good thing. I think you see these guys want to race clean with everybody. Like Jimmie said, we will look at the points and say it was a good weekend."

JIMMIE: ON DIFFERENCES OF HOW CAR DROVE IN TRAFFIC VERSUS OUT FRONT: "I didn't really feel like I had a chance to run with the No. 8 car or win the race right before the rain red-flag. Once again, Chad had amazing pit strategy to get us track position and get us up front. Once we were up front, I picked up a lot of time. And then the guys that were leading like Junior had to come through traffic, just didn't have the speed and one reason is, it is really tough to pass here. It does seem like you do lose a little bit of front grip in traffic as you racing people. Clean air does help these cars a lot."

ON IF PREVIOUS CARS COULD TAKE THAT HARD OF A HIT:

JIMMIE: "I would have been wrecked with the other car with hits that hard. The shape of the nose if real round on the old cars, and it like a wedge driving in to the back of the car and just lifts the rear tires up. These bumpers really hit square and solid. There is no lift, there is just a straight shot in the butt."

ON STRENGTH OF THE BUMPERS COMPARED TO OTHER CAR:

CHAD: "It is a definitely a lot closer together height wise when you look at the front fascia versus the rear fascia compared to last years car. There is some added structure that NASCAR wants us to use in the back of the car. In the fronts of the cars, they are actually relatively weak, which we saw at Bristol last week and it is easy to cave in the grill area. So we are working on developing some things to make that a little bit better so when we do get to these short tracks, it doesn't mess up your air lines and things of that nature. It is different, a lot different and it is solid in the back, it can take a pretty good shot."

ON IF GUYS WILL LEARN HOW TO MOVE SOMEOUT OUT OF THE WAY TO GET BY OR WILL THEY STILL HAVE TO WRECK YOU:

JIMMIE: "I am not really sure. It seems like the cars are more forgiving right now to contact. I think that is a good thing. Because in the past, if you think back to Charlotte a few years ago, I think it was the No. 15 when Michael Waltrip was in it, coming down the front stretch and he came to bump draft Junior if I remember right and spun him out. That won't happen now. You don't have the bumpers lining up in a different way so where you can use the bumper more often on bigger tracks and then on the short tracks. It is a good things because you can't just run in there and knock the guy in front of you out of the way. You actually have to drive and try to pass the guy."

Continued in part 2

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Michael Waltrip , Jimmie Johnson , Chad Knaus
Teams Hendrick Motorsports