JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S MONTE CARLO SS, MET WITH MEMBERS OF THE MEDIA AT POCONO RACEWAY TO DISCUSS THE PASSING OF BILL FRANCE, KURT BUSCH'S PENALTY, RACING AT POCONO AND MIS AND OTHER SUBJECTS. ON FUNERAL FOR BILL FRANCE, JR: "Didn't have...
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S MONTE CARLO SS, MET WITH MEMBERS OF THE MEDIA AT POCONO RACEWAY TO DISCUSS THE PASSING OF BILL FRANCE, KURT BUSCH'S PENALTY, RACING AT POCONO AND MIS AND OTHER SUBJECTS.
ON FUNERAL FOR BILL FRANCE, JR: "Didn't have a chance to speak to the family or anything but to see them, I watched Betty Jane speak on stage; she seemed very strong and in a good place. I'm sure it's a very difficult time for them but yesterday's services went well. Probably as good as you can expect. Done in a very good way. Some great stories from Mr. Hendrick and other close friends of Bill (France). We paid our respects and then came up to Pocono."
YOUR REACTION TO THE PENALTY FOR KURT BUSCH: "I knew it was going to be big and I still haven't seen the footage to know how close he was to any one of the team members. That's a huge fine and I knew it was going to be something big. Playing in that department or area, I kind of expected a suspension but now there's kind of a baseline there and I'm sure it will only get worse from there.
"I'm not trying to go after Kurt and say that there needs to be a suspension but that's a major thing, especially if you're endangering people on pit road. I'm sure it's something he feels bad about. His frustration just got hold of him and put him in a position to do that. You can't mess around with guys on pit road. You can't hurt innocent people."
WHAT DID BILL FRANCE MEAN TO THE SPORT OF NASCAR? "Unfortunately I've only been in the sport for six years and the NASCAR I know is more with Brian France running it and Lesa (France Kennedy) and Bill from afar just keeping a watchful eye on things. But I've been fortunate enough to go on fishing trips and spend some time with him and can see that he really has had his hands still in the sport. To hear the great stories, be intimidated by him and his presence, I'm certainly going to miss him. As it's been well documented, he's taken the sport from. took it over in the 1970s from his father and he's really made it what it is today. I think Brian is poised and ready to continue that tradition on and continue to grow our sport."
TALK ABOUT RACING AT POCONO: "It stays pretty much the same. We feel that we're coming back with a much better package than what we have here. Last year we won the Brickyard and the Brickyard and Pocono are similar. "We put a lot of effort into it and we feel that we're going to be closer and hopefully be able to run up there with the No. 11. He had everybody covered by a huge margin last time we were here so we want to close that gap and get up there and fight with him for the win. I really think we've got some good things. The engine shop's been working hard and we have a new power plant design that we're trying to bring out this weekend, see how that works. New package for the chassis itself. Even though with all these new things coming along we're still optimistic and think that everything's pointing in the right direction, that we should be a threat."
YOUR THOUGHTS ON MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY: "It just always puts on great racing. It's a track we can always count on to see good side-by-side racing and lots of grooves and lots of action. I'm excited to go back. I know it's a favorite for a lot of the drivers."
WHAT'S THE BEST WAY TO ATTACK POCONO? "I think everybody has their own philosophy. I think that Turn Three is probably the most important corner. To get that corner right you have to sacrifice some things in the other turns. The corner leading onto the longer straightaway is the biggest priority and Turn Three is very flat, it's rough and tough to get through there. So if your car will perform through there, I think that gives you an advantage and you can have a good finish."
WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF MARK MARTIN'S CONDENSED SCHEDULE? "I think he's really kind of setting the pace. I was talking with Jeff (Gordon) and us drivers sit around and say 'man, you don't want to get out of racing and you don't want to not be at the track but you don't want to do the 38 races year after year'. For someone like Mark Martin to set his pace. I know Bill Elliott has tried; Ricky Rudd tried. But they weren't in the best situation when they decided to step down. Now to see big teams providing that opportunity - and Mark couldn't have that opportunity at Roush, it took this relationship with Ginn to get it done - but to see team owners willing to go that route, it inspires Jeff, it inspires me and guys that don't want to quit racing. After 15 or 20 years you want to have a couple weekends off here and there. I think Mark's doing a great job of leading that brigade."
-credit: gm racing