Michigan II: Johnson post qualifying interview

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS -- Qualified 2nd YOU'VE GOTTEN 110 BONUS POINTS THIS YEAR, MORE THAN ANY OTHER DRIVER "Oh, I'm surprised with that stat, especially with the slow start to the season we've had. Creative pit work and...

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS -- Qualified 2nd

YOU'VE GOTTEN 110 BONUS POINTS THIS YEAR, MORE THAN ANY OTHER DRIVER

"Oh, I'm surprised with that stat, especially with the slow start to the season we've had. Creative pit work and those sorts of things to try to keep us out to get those bonus points, but here lately we've been up there racing for the win and lead laps, a lot of laps. So that's helpful. But this team is a great race team and we'll get every point we can every way we can."

WITH ONLY FOUR RACES TO GO BEFORE THE CHASE, IS THERE THE TEMPTATION TO START EXPERIMENTING NOW OR JUST STAY FOCUSED AND BUILD MOMENTUM?

"It's more momentum in my eyes. We're still trying to make our cars better and we can continue to do that. But I think it's more about refining what you have than it is reinventing the wheel. I think we'll take more risks, hopefully when we're mathematically locked in, I don't want to speak out of turn. But when you cross that hurdle, you can change a lot of things. I wouldn't see us changing the set-ups a lot, but you gamble a little more on fuel and other risks out on track that you normally wouldn't."

WHAT MAKES YOU AND CHAD KNAUS SO SUCCESSFUL UNDER PRESSURE? IS IT BECAUSE YOU GUYS ARE SO MUCH ALIKE, OR MAYBE YOU ARE DIFFERENT?

"We probably couldn't be more different than two people than two people on this planet (laughs). I think that, alone, is a huge advantage for us because the areas where I feel I'm strong are areas where he is weak and vice-versa. So we fit well together, we really do. Another contributing factor to our success has been the face that we've been real honest with one another and sometimes to a fault, but we've been able to tell each other what we think over the years. There was a real tough time in 2005 and Rick (Hendrick) sat us down over the winter and we had one of those meetings. We came out of there feeling accomplished that we got everything out on the table and said what we needed to. Rick helped us with that and kind of pushed us over the edge. We've always been honest with one another, but man it's tough when you get to challenging points to really speak your mind. Through our experiences we've been able to do that. There are times when I climb out of the car and I look him in the eyes and say man, I just didn't do it for you today. And he believes me. And other times, I say I did all I could, but there was a car problem. We trust each other and know each other so well that now over the years, that honesty can work and be there.

"One other credit to Chad is that I don't think there is anybody in the garage area that works as hard as he does. It's a bold statement and I don't' want to take anything away from the other great crew chiefs and teams that are out there, but the guy just never stops working. At times this year the workload has been there but we may have been working in the wrong areas and now it seems like we're working in the right areas and getting speed out of it."

YOU WOULD BE THE ONLY DRIVER TO MATCH CALE YARBOROUGH WITH THREE CHAMPIONSHIP WINS IN A ROW. DO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT AT ALL?

"Yes, and no. The thing over the years is I've been comfortable with is just doing what I can do. I can't change the stats. I can't change luck or what goes on at the track. In '05 when everything went like it did, we were so close again and lost the championship. I just really found some comfort in doing all that I could. If the team did all that they could and I did all that I could, that's it. There is nothing else you can do. And we did that in '06 and we won. We did it again in '07 and we won. So I really feel if where we are as a team, or where my talents are as a driver, pit stops, the crew chiefing, if we do our jobs, we'll have a chance. And that's all you can ask for. Luck and all those other things, you can't lose sleep over it. I will. I'm saying this now too because we're not in the middle of the Chase, but as time goes on I'm doing a better job at worrying about the right things. Winning three in a row would be great, but I'm going to try not to worry about it yet, If and when that does come into my mind. I'm just going to keep falling back on the fact that I need to do what I can do and if it falls in place, it falls in place."

WHEN, IN 2005, WAS YOUR MEETING WITH RICK HENDRICK AND WOULD YOU CONSIDER THAT A TURNING POINT?

"Yeah, it certainly was a point where we took it to the next level. It was mid-September when the conversations started and then continued in through the winter as well. So it was a three or four-month period of time where we were dealing with tough times and not performing like we wanted to. We still finished well in the points. We were fifth and went into the last race of the year in second and blew a tire and crashed. So we still would have had a good finish, but September is when our counseling sessions began with 'Dr. Hendrick'. By the time January came around, we were in great shape."

-credit: gm racing

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Series NASCAR Cup