Phoenix II: Johnson post-qualifying interview

Jimmie Johnson -- ...

Jimmie Johnson -- #48 Lowe's Chevrolet
2nd position

"This is go time. To get a top-two qualifying effort is really important. Obviously I would have liked to be on the pole. The pole-sitter has an advantage at this track. I just want to lead a lap quickly and get that part out of the way and settle in. We had a great race car yesterday in practice. We didn't make a qualifying run so I didn't know what to expect today. I think there was a small advantage with the weather and going out early. But it really hasn't heated up out there. So I'm not sure how much of an advantage that was. But things have worked out well and we're very pleased with the car. Like I said earlier, it's go time and it's time to get to work."

ON DENNY HAMLIN CAPTURING THE POLE:

"Congratulations to him. There's nothing like your first pole -- especially in a partial season and in getting prepared for the following season. That's going to do a lot for his confidence."

ARE YOU MORE KEYED-UP HERE AT THE END OF THE SEASON, OR ARE YOU MORE RELAXED?

"Nope, it's go time. There is no more relaxing. I hope I'm relaxing after the trophy has been raised in victory circle or whatever it is at that point in time at Homestead. But it's go time. That's all there is to it."

YOU SEEM A LOT MORE SUBDUED THIS YEAR THAN IN PRVIOUS YEARS:

"Last year I learned a lot of lessons. One was that you do all you can. I made some mistakes last year in the car -- letting the pressure get to me too early I crashed a car at Kansas -- trying to make something of a bad day. If I would have just finished that race in 20th position where I was running at the time, I would have easily made up the eight points and it would have been a different championship. So even thought it is a 10-race format at the end, there is an element of survival there. I want to do my best job possible and get everything I can out of the car every lap, but not make any mistakes. Still this year, I've made some mistakes I regret, but it's part of racing. When you're out there laying it all on the line, sometimes you step over it and other times you're on this side of it. It's been good and very uneventful for us.

"So everything is good. Our team confidence is high and everything is rolling. We're in much better shape this year than we were last year at this point in time."

HOW DOES THIS YEAR FEEL VERSUS LAST YEAR?

"Personally, I'm smarter and better prepared for the pressures that come with the Chase. A guy like Tony Stewart, who has been in this pressure-cooker before, is more relaxed too. A guy like Carl Edwards feels some extra pressures and your mind is doing some different things. It's hard to handicap it. Carl has done an amazing job. But this year, I can tell I'm much calmer and I understand what's going on."

DO YOU STILL FEEL LIKE YOUR DESTINY IS IN YOUR OWN HANDS?

"If we win and Tony is in 7th or 8th, that would cover it. That's not an unrealistic goal. Top 10's are very difficult in our sport. You don't have to have a bad day to finish 7th. That's a good day. Last week, I was fifth and Tony was sixth. So I don't think that's unrealistic. We have two races to do it in. If I can finish three or four spots ahead of him in the next two races, that would take care of it."

TONY STEWART SEEMS RELAXED TOO:

"Yeah, that's what makes us both so dangerous I believe. If you watch football and baseball and the pitcher is in the final game of the World Series and he's standing on the mound sweating bullets, you sense a mistake coming. But when you see somebody calm and relaxed, you know he's in control. That comes from experience. Tony has won a lot of championships and is already a Cup champion. Unlike me, I feel like I've got to do this. I don't have a championship. I know Tony would like a second one but I think it's like winning your first race. You have to win your first race. So we're both calm and relaxed. Both of our teams are in the same situation and I really predict this dog fight to the end and a battle between the home improvements."

-gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Tony Stewart , Jimmie Johnson , Carl Edwards