Pocono: Johnson, Martin post qualifying interview

JIMMIE JOHNSON , NO. 48 LOWES IMPALA SS -- Qualified 2nd MARK MARTIN , NO. 8 STEAM-UMM BURGERS IMPALA SS -- Qualified 3rd: YOU WERE UP ON THE POLE FOR A WHILE, AND THE TRACK WAS PRETTY FAST. TELL US ABOUT YOUR QUALIFYING LAP: JOHNSON: "I was...

JIMMIE JOHNSON , NO. 48 LOWES IMPALA SS -- Qualified 2nd

MARK MARTIN , NO. 8 STEAM-UMM BURGERS IMPALA SS -- Qualified 3rd:

YOU WERE UP ON THE POLE FOR A WHILE, AND THE TRACK WAS PRETTY FAST. TELL US ABOUT YOUR QUALIFYING LAP:

JOHNSON: "I was really, really pleased with that qualifying lap. Being the first car out is never a good situation. So for us to put up a lap like that says a lot about the type of car we have and how good it's been driving. We had a great practice session. All in all, it was really a strong day for the Lowe's team. Hopefully tomorrow goes as well and then we go into Sunday with a good driving car."

TELL US ABOUT YOUR QUALIFYING LAP, YOU'VE HAD GREAT SUCCESS AT POCONO:

MARTIN: "Gosh, it's just been one of the best days I can remember! Man, it's just so much fun to go to the race track and drive a car like that. I really appreciate Tony Gibson and the whole No. 8 team and their attitude, on the good days and on the bad days, and DEI. Golly, what a great day. It would have been better if we would have gotten the pole, but this is sure a lot of fun to go to the race track and drive fast race cars."

COULD YOU SPEAK TO THE UPCOMING RACES AND WHERE YOU THINK YOU'LL DO THE BEST? ALSO TELL US ABOUT REGAN SMITH AND HIS QUALIFYING TODAY (4TH)

MARTIN: "We're really proud of Regan. He has put together two really strong races where he's finished inside the top 20 at Charlotte and Dover. We're very proud of his program and of him. After all, I feel like he was my pupil last year and I felt like he was a full time Cup driver and so we're very proud of him.

"I think we should be very good here Sunday. I think we should be decent at Michigan. I'm planning on winning the Brickyard in the No. 8 car. We've got the stuff. We've got the team. The cars are awesome on flat tracks (like) Phoenix and Richmond. I have never planned on anything than my plan for the Brickyard. That's the crown jewel. If you look at how that car ran at Phoenix, I believe we can adapt that set-up to work there.

"The team is strong enough on pit road. Tony Gibson and those guys who work on that car are due a win. They got several disappointments last year when they had great race cars and had failures and what have you. Nothing could make me happier than to see their faces in victory lane."

YOU WERE ALWAYS A SUPPORTER OF DAVID RAGAN. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE JOB HE'S DOING IN YOUR OLD CAR?

MARTIN: "I'm really proud of David this year. Last year was a learning year for David. Maybe they didn't get quite the consistent performance that they would have hoped for.

"But you have to remember he's a really young driver with less experience than most young drivers that come onto the circuit. I think he represents the No. 6 car very well. It wouldn't be shocking to see him win a race in the near future. They are very consistent now. He's doing a great job and is a really fine young man. I absolutely couldn't be more proud of the young man he is."

WHAT IS YOUR IMPRESSION OF THE PATCH? IS IT GOING TO CAUSE ANY PROBLEMS IN SUNDAY'S RACE?

JOHNSON: "I don't see it causing any problems. I'm excited about the patch down there and hopeful that it gives us another passing zone on the race track. Unless somebody has a big mistake in (Turns) 2 or 3 in the past, there really wasn't anywhere to pass over there. You really tried to set everything up for Turn 1 and hopefully could be side-by-side with someone and have the preferred line into the tunnel and come out with the spot. So I'm excited about the patch. It seems that we're all up there now and using it, so it might just be single file in the third lane now, but at least we have some options and I think that's all we are really looking for as drivers and that's more options for passing zones and that's created one. I'm not sure why that patch was put in, but these odd little things have brought some of the best racing to tracks. They've tried to do something at Martinsville, I'm not sure what the objective was years back, but they created a very racy racetrack in the process of messing with Martinsville. And now it's changed again and unfortunately it's back to single file for the most part. But this down here, I don't think it was intended to do anything, but it's added a whole new dimension to this race track."

ON DRAWING THE NO. 1 QUALIFYING SPOT AND WHAT DO YOU DO TO PASS THE TIME WHILE YOU WAIT FOR QUALIFYING TO FINISH?

JOHNSON: "From a driver's standpoint, it's nice going first in some respects because as qualifying goes on it's a long process and it's another hour to 1.5-hours to forget about your marks and the rhythm that you had. But the track surface as it sits, and usually going out behind another class of cars on a different tire, there are a lot of disadvantages that come with it. But my car drove great. We picked up just a little bit of speed from our practice time to qualifying, so I don't think it was a huge disadvantage or really hurt us that bad, which was a shock."

MARTIN: "To answer your question though, usually the first response is a swear word (laughter).

DID YOU FIND ANY TRANSITION ISSUES FROM THE OLDER PAVEMENT TO THE PATCH AND THEN OFF ON THE OTHER SIDE?

JOHNSON: "Coming off the corner where you leave it the final time, doesn't seem to do a ton. You do lose a little bit of grip, but the car is pretty much on its arc and moving along. I do know that earlier through the corner, through the center of the turn if you get your left-side tires off it, the car gets pretty loose.

"I think if you get your right sides off, I haven't had them off, but if you do, I believe you're going to have big time problems. You're going to be in the fence. Mark and I were at a dirt track at Eldora at Tony's (Stewart) deal the other night and it reminds me of that. You jump the cushion down there and you're going to have big problems."

MARTIN: "I think what you'll see in the race is surely one instance where the car on the inside won't quite give up, and will slide into the car on the outside. Usually you get somebody that's pretty determined to not get passed or to race down there. My fear is that you'll have somebody on the inside cleaning the guy on the outside (laughs). It'll be interesting. It's going to be fun. It's just like Jimmie said. I'm not sure that was intended to, but sometimes when you try to do something, most of the time it doesn't seem like it works. But this just happened to bring another dimension to that turn and it's going to be fun to watch."

ON HIS STATEMENT THAT HE'S GOING TO WIN THE BRICKYARD

MARTIN: "It's coming from the team. They have pit stops every race that are good enough, if everything else was good enough, they could do it on pit road. And they had a good enough car in Phoenix to get it done and at Richmond, what wasn't as good as Denny's (Hamlin), but Denny had a real special night. Besides that, we were right there. And so there is a lot of logic in what makes the car work at Phoenix and Richmond for Indy. And I believe that we'll have a very fast car at Indy. We took the Richmond car and parked it. That was Phoenix/Richmond; parked it for Indy and it was a brand new car at Phoenix. So I think that we'll have a good handling car and I think we've got the team to get it done and that's the one. That's the one we need to get. Sometimes miracles happen. Sometimes it all works out and it almost did at Daytona last year for us. And Daytona and the Brickyard are the two that would be crown jewels of my career, and this team can do it. So that's the place that I have targeted. I had a long talk today about stuff set-up bump-stops, shocks, and springs set-up for Indy and I talked last week to them about Indy and I talked the week before about Indy. So it's on my mind."

ON THE PATCH, WILL THE FANS SEE A BETTER RACE? WILL IT CAUSE DRIVER-TO-DRIVER DIFFICULTIES?

JOHNSON: "The chance is there to see a better race. I haven't been side-by-side with anyone down through (Turn) 3 yet, through testing and then through today, to see what is really going to happen. Its going to give us another option, which as you know, drivers want options. So it'll give us an option. Mark pointed out earlier that if there is somebody really determined on the bottom, there's a good chance that they can slip and clean out the guy on the outside, so it could be an exciting area down there."

-credit: gm racing

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup