Jimmie Johnson ...
Jimmie Johnson #48 Lowe's Chevrolet
HOW DID PRACTICE GO? One pratice down and things feel good. We've got a lot more track stuff ahead of us so we'll just go from there.
IT WAS WARM OUT THERE TODAY It's always warm in Phoenix, right?
WHAT'S THE FEELING OUT THERE? It's go time. We gained a couple of points last week on the #20. It's really about doing everything we can. We've got to finish ahead of them. It's still in our control and we've got to go out there and race as hard as we can for the next two weeks. And the #99 out there-he's coming on strong.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THIS WEEKEND AND THE CHASE? I feel great. I truly am having a lot of fun with this points race. The trash talking that's gone on before-everything. This is what it's about. I'm professional athlete. I love my sport and having a blast racing agains the best guys in the sport. I enjoy what I'm doing.
HOW DO YOU RACE TONY AND CARL IN THESE LAST TWO RACES? I race them as hard as I can every single lap. And we're all going to be tested-our patience is going to be tested as we keep going here. I'm sure how one guy races the other-it's going to come back that way. If we all start clean, it's going to stay clean. If we start roughing each other up, I'm pretty certain that nobody is going to let them lean on them for a position from here on out.
RE: KEEPING EVERYHTING IN PERSPECTIVE Well, our team, we do a very good job of keeping things in perspective. I think that things outside of the race team, and talk and media. And not disrespect to that. We're living in the day-to-day and we don't realize some of the stuff that is said. We're just living privately and coming to the track every week and doing what we can. There's more outside things, and that's one thing I learned from last year's experience-don't pay attention to stuff outside your team and what's goes on. I truly believe that it's in our hands and if we do everything we're supposed to do, we'll be fine.
DO YOU GET A SENSE OF URGENCY BEING THAT THIS IS ANOTHER YEAR WHERE YOU ARE IN SECOND-PLACE FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP? In a sense, I do. You don't know how long a team is going to stay in championship form and how everything is going to be. It's so tough in our sport. I feel blessed. The worst I've been fifth in the points, second the past two years. And we need to take advantage of this chance-being as close to the championship. I know it, Chad knows it, the guys know it and we're set on it.
SOME TRACKS ARE ALL ABOUT AERODYNAMICS, SOME ARE ALL ABOUT THE DRIVER. WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT HERE AT PHOENIX? I truly believe it takes all things to have a good performance and even in these last two events, track position is important. So, with that in mind, that aero game still comes into play. They are both tracks that have a lot of RPM drop, so you need a lot of torque to get up off the corners. So, there's a lot of things that come into play. We were just down in Homestead testing and the track, there's a lot of grip. It's really fast but you really have to work for it. (At) Phoenix, it's always been a track where there's not a lot of grip that the driver really has to work for. Also, to have things, this track is good for the #20, good for the #48 and good for the #99. So, I don't know where there's going to be a huge advantage for anyone. I've just got to go out and race every lap like it's the last and see what happens.
HOW DO YOU RATE THE CHAMPIONSHIP CONTENDERS NOW? I don't know. Some people in Vegas are going to lose a lot of money, and some people are going to make a lot of money.
RE: TRASH TALKING Amongst the trash talking and a lot of things, Tony and I have a lot of respect for one another. And in any sport or any profession, there are times when competitors or people you work around or with, you don't have the best opinion of. And that's been a two-way street for both of us. It's just racing. But even amongst different things, Tony and I have always had respect for each other. And we still smile and laugh about it on the side. It's interesting and it's fun and we have a lot of fun with it.