Note: HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS DRIVERS QUALIFY ONE-TWO-THREE: Jeff Gordon takes the pole, Brian Vickers qualified 2nd, and Jimmie Johnson was third JIMMIE JOHNSON , NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO (qualified 3rd) HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO ...
Note: HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS DRIVERS QUALIFY ONE-TWO-THREE: Jeff Gordon takes the pole, Brian Vickers qualified 2nd, and Jimmie Johnson was third
JIMMIE JOHNSON , NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO (qualified 3rd)
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO QUALIFY WELL HERE AT MICHIGAN?
"It's definitely important. What you do to set your mark for qualifying - how our team does it anyway - is to look at how many pit openings there will be on the race track, or how many breaks in the wall where you can have an opening. At some tracks there are eight spots with an opening. At others there are 10. That's what we strive for to be able to pick a spot where we'll have a clean entry or exit in our pit stall. That's really important.
"Your first goal is the pole. If you don't get the pole, your second goal is to have an opening. That's our mentality. Today, we felt like we had a shot for the pole. We came close. But after that, we re-evaluated and made sure we have an opening."
IS YOUR LEVEL OF CONFIDENCE HIGHER SINCE YOU'VE BEEN DOING SO WELL THE PAST COUPLE OF WEEKS?
"We have been confident. But as a whole, our race team is very good at having an even temperament through the good and the bad. That's one of the main reasons we've been able to come out of the box as a rookie team and been able to compete for wins and championships. If you get too far out there and wrapped up in your success, there are 42 other guys working hard to beat you down. It doesn't take long and they do. We've been working hard to stay focused through it all. When you have a bad race, you try to learn what you did wrong and move on and let it roll down your back so you don't go to the next race deflated. It's a good characteristic that my team has."
ON THE SAFER BARRIERS AFFECT ON SUNDAY'S RACING
"So far, I don't see it changing anything. As the race wears on and we use up that final few feet by the wall, there might be a small difference. But there is so much real estate out there, I don't think it'll play a big role. Darlington, so far, is the track where it's made the biggest difference and took away some racing lane. Here I think we'll be in good shape. I'm glad to see them here."
ON HENDRICK TEAMS TAKING THE TOP THREE QUALFIYING SPOTS
"I think it shows the vision that Rick Hendrick had. It started with Ricky Hendrick and Jack Sprague bringing two cars under one roof and have the veteran help the rookie and building cars that are identical with the same engines. Rick had a vision and he stuck to it with the No. 24 and the No. 48. There is some restructuring taking place. Everything is going to take another step forward. With Brian (Vickers) coming on board, they've helped both the No. 24 and No. 48 out. We're happy to give back. It's really working out well."
ON THE TALK OF MANDATORY GREEN FLAG FINISHES
"The decisions on our sport are really based on the entertainment value. the fans aren't happy when the NASCAR officials get hit on the head with ice chests.
"It's definitely sending a message. Whatever they choose to do, I hope it's put into place during the off-season and it's set for all year long. We work on our race strategy to run on a certain number of miles for our engines and our fuel mileage and everything involved. I just hope it sticks for the year and is a consistent decision."