Pocono II: Johnson - Friday media visit

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS met with media and discussed winning at the Brickyard, challenges at Pocono, carrying momentum to the Chase, another possible championship, and more. TALK ABOUT COMING TO POCONO AFTER YOU BIG WIN LAST ...

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS met with media and discussed winning at the Brickyard, challenges at Pocono, carrying momentum to the Chase, another possible championship, and more.

TALK ABOUT COMING TO POCONO AFTER YOU BIG WIN LAST WEEKEND AT THE BRICKYARD "As we get closer to the Chase it's nicer to have a win and carry the momentum and confidence that comes with that. We're excited. This is a much different track than what we see in the Chase, so it's more of a mental thing if we could leave here with a great run and great pit stops and adjust on the car and make good decisions, we'll leave here with confidence. It's hard to say we'll take much from the technology side from this track to anywhere else, but it's good for the head."

WHAT'S UP WITH THE BEARD GONE? JEFF GORDON HAS BEEN GIVING YOU A HARD TIME ABOUT IT "Well, I won two (races) with the beard, so he tried giving me that crap with the race was over and man, we won two; if we don't win two more, then the beard's coming back. But I might have to grow it back sometime here soon, just to get under his skin (laughs). Anything I can do to get under his skin, I enjoy those moments (laughs)."

SEEMS LIKE A GOOD PLAN FOR THE CHASE "Yes. Yeah, you know it might hurt me in the end if I do that. So I've got to plan my moments here."

YOU HAVE THREE WINS AT THE BRICKYARD BUT YOU'RE STILL LOOKING FOR THAT ROAD COURSE SUCCESS. YOU GOALS HAVE BEEN TO WIN AT BRISTOL AND AT A ROAD COURSE YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE YOUR SHOT AGAIN NEXT WEEK AT WATKINS GLEN "We are and we've made a lot of progress at Bristol and at Infineon, I had a speeding violation and was able to drive up through all the cars and find myself in fourth. So I think we're making great gains. I'm becoming much more aware of what these cars need on road courses. We were very fast at the race last year at The Glen, so I think we have a shot; our best shot yet."

WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN INFINEON AND WATKINS GLEN? "The speed is the first thing that comes to mind. The speed of Watkins Glen is so much higher. But also the track is so much wider and the corners are low and much more sweeping, which gives you that speed. So they are two totally different approaches."

WHAT'S IT LIKE TO BE CALLED "SUPERMAN" BY A GUY YOU CONSIDER A HERO? "Pretty cool. I saw highlights of what Mark (Martin) said. He also told me that in victory lane. I just kinda laughed at him and told him he was crazy (laughs). But it means a lot. When you have respect for your peers, that's what means the most to me. And to have respect in the garage area from someone like Mark Martin who has seen it all, and who has raced against the best, was really a cool moment."

LOWE'S SAYS THEY ARE NOT RENEWING THEIR CONTRACT WITH CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY. WHAT IS YOUR REACTION TO THAT? "I just heard about it today myself. I'm not in the loop on what Lowe's does and what they choose to do in marketing and advertising. So my focus is really on the car. It's unfortunate that they're not going back, but I guess it is what it is."

ARE YOU WORRIED ABOUT YOUR PROGRAM WITH LOWE'S? "No, it doesn't for me. We still have two years left on our contract we have with them. Everything has been going great."

LAST WEEKEND, SOME DRIVERS SAID THERE ARE THINGS THEY CAN TAKE FROM THE BRICKYARD AND RELATE THEM TO POCONO; OTHERS SAID NOTHING AT ALL. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT? "I think the tunnel turn relates to a lot of the corners at Indianapolis. This track has become so rough over the years that it's hard to take a lot. I think a few years back it was easier, but they are much different now, especially in Turn 3 where you run now with that patch around the top and how rough Turn 1 is. But we're hoping that's the case since we won at Indy and we want to bring that momentum."

AT THIS POINT IN THE SEASON, HOW ARE YOU WINDING DOWN TOWARD THE CHASE, ARE YOU FEELING AS GOOD OR BETTER THAN YOU DID LAST YEAR? "I truthfully feel better this year than last. We've been more consistent with speed in the car all season long. We didn't have to play catch-up. That stuff is tough on the team, mentally, and tough on myself. So we've had the speed; we've just been making small mistakes and we've had some things not go our way with fuel mileage and things late in the race. I think we could have won like five races if you look back at Chicago, Michigan, and a few other races. We could have a bunch of wins racked up right now. So hopefully we can figure out whatever it is that's keeping us from closing the deal at the end of the race and we can figure that out and get it going for the Chase."

DO YOU THINK IT'S ACTUALLY A LITTLE SCARY FOR THE COMPETITION TO HEAR YOU SAY STUFF LIKE THAT? "I hope it is. The more I can make them worry about the No. 48, the better off we're going to be."

MARK MARTIN TALKED ABOUT THE WAY YOU GUYS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN ABLE TO COME BACK FROM ADVERSITY. WHAT DO YOU ATTRIBUTE THAT TO? "I can see that in times when we do it really well, it's amazing what we can accomplish. And I see other times when we don't and I understand why we don't. Sometimes we beat ourselves down and get frustrated and we don't allow that style that we have to come out and never give up and let these long races work in our favor to adjust on the car and get it right. I think earlier this year I was making some mistakes and maybe getting a little too frustrated and I see us getting back into that rhythm right now and we're going to need that for the Chase. There are long races in the Chase and a ten-race stretch, it only sounds like ten races, but ten races is a long period of time. It takes its toll."

LET'S SAY YOUR COMPETITORS OFFERED YOU A BUNCH OF MONEY; SAY A HUNDRED MILLION BUCKS, AND JUST SAID HEY, TAKE THIS MONEY AND SKIP THE REST OF THE SEASON. WOULD YOU DO IT? "A hundred million dollars? Man, I don't know. That would be a tough one to consider (laughs). That's a lot of dough. Tax free?"

YEAH, YEAH, TAX FREE "Man, I guess I would seriously consider a hundred million tax free (laughter)."

ON FOUR STRAIGHT CHAMPIONSHIPS "Yeah, I really do want that four straight (wins). It's something that's never been done before in our sport. I'm not sure if it's true, but in pro sports in general someone said here recently that it hasn't been done; four in a row. And if that's the case, and we were to be able to do it in all of sports, man, that would be awesome."

ON THE SUPERMAN THING, IF YOU WERE TO PICK A SUPERHERO, WHICH ONE WOULD YOU BE? "I have never thought of that one. I was into comic books and superhero stuff as a kid. I was running around wanting to be Rick Johnson, Ivan Stewart, and there is a variety of motocross and off-road racers. Bobby Rahal was someone that I loved when I was a kid, and Rick Mears. When everybody always picked superheros, I was a race hero."

ARE THERE ANY WEAKNESSES THAT HAVE YOU WORRIED? "I see a ton of weaknesses in myself and in the team, even when we're on a roll and things seem like we would be unstoppable at times. When you're living it, it's so different. You see how fragile the environment is and the near misses and some cases where luck comes into play, or other places where you're fortunate to hit it just right. So I see all of that stuff and I'm pretty amazed we've held it all together for three years and now going for a fourth. It's a fragile environment. There is a reason why nobody has won four in a row. It's not easy to do."

YOU SEEM SO CALM AND COLLECTED ON THE SURFACE. THERE HAS TO BE SOMETHING THAT INTIMIDATES YOU "I let it out. It's not like I'm trying to keep anything back or hidden. I just do my thing. I guess it's the way I do it (laughs). But believe me, inside my own head there's a lot of fear and a lot of doubts. My career, growing up in motorsports, I just barely made it through each division and then I ended up with this opportunity and the roof has blown off of the thing. So those fears are still in my head. I still climb in the car every race, every year, wondering if I've forgotten how to drive. You know, am I going to be able to do the job that I have done? All those things go through my mind. I think they go through everybody's mind. And if they don't, then I'm just crazy. But I think that they're helpful for me; they keep me honest, they keep me focused. I've got a great drive to succeed and do well, especially to do something that's never been done before. I've never been into history, but as I get older I become more aware of history and more interested in it. And the fact that I could be a part of it in our sport; who wouldn't want that legacy? It would just be awesome to do it."

-credit: gm racing

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Rick Mears , Mark Martin