Richmond: Johnson - GM top-10 interview

Weekly Top-10 Behind the Hauler Chat with Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Monte Carlo SS Richmond International Raceway Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Monte Carlo SS - Currently first in the NASCAR Nextel Cup driver standings with 1,394 ...

Weekly Top-10 Behind the Hauler Chat with Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Monte Carlo SS
Richmond International Raceway

Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Monte Carlo SS - Currently first in the NASCAR Nextel Cup driver standings with 1,394 points

YOU'VE HAD SUCCESS ON TRACKS LIKE THIS. WHAT MAKES THIS TRACK DIFFERENT FROM TRACKS YOU'VE DONE WELL AT? "Looking at our history, the year that I did run well here at Richmond I did have success at Loudon and Phoenix. We had the right stuff and it was a very good time. Fortunately we've been trying to get that balance back. I haven't had the speed at Loudon or here. Phoenix is a good race for us. We got too tight at end but we're coming in here with some high expectations. We felt like we learned a lot with the big test session that we had here. We took that stuff to Phoenix and did well there and now we're coming back here. Hopefully we're on to the right thing."

WHY IS THIS PLACE SO FUN? "It's the right size track. Aerodynamics can play a role here but we're still going slow enough where we can race side-by-side, lean on each other, use the bumper if needed. I think the speed is the right speeds for our race cars. It's a wide short track with a lot of room and a couple of lanes for us to race side-by-side."

ARE YOU WORRIED THIS COULD BE THE PLACE WHERE YOU HAVE A BAD RACE? "I feel comfortable where we are in the points and we can afford to have a bad race or two. I certainly hope that we don't have that here. This track is really important to us because when we come back the last race going into the Chase we race here and we want to have that race be a good one for us. If we don't have the performance that we do here we're going to be really paying attention to what went wrong and why and try to make the adjustments so when we come back we can lead off with the Chase with the right speed of the car and the right attitude and really get the results that we need."

ON EXPECTATIONS FOR THIS TRACK: "There are tracks that you go to where you're expectations change. I show up at every track thinking that I'm going to win and have that in my heart that when I come here I always have a little bit of nervous energy of what is going to happen and how it's going to work out."

ON GOING TO DARLINGTON HAVING HAD SUCCESS THERE: "I'm so excited to go back. I know it's going to be a good track. There's some very hungry guys. I know (Greg) Biffle, he's had a tough start to the season and he's always strong there. I know Jeff (Gordon) is going to be good. There's a few guys like Matt (Kenseth), (Jeff) Burton, guys that are going to be really strong there. I love that race track. There's not a track that I smile about anymore going to it. I really, really enjoy going to that race track."

WHAT DID YOU GET OUT OF TESTING IN CHARLOTTE? "The track is much different. The tire has a lot less grip and we were still searching for the balance of the car trying to get things right. We have all the data. All five (Hendrick Motorsports) teams were there. We're working through everything. We didn't leave there as happy as we wanted to or expected to so we have some work to do before we go back."

A LOT OF TEAMS HAD TWO CARS AT THE TEST. WHAT WAS THE REASON YOU AND JEFF GORDON ONLY BROUGHT ONE CAR? "The 48 only brought one car so we could just focus on that car and make more runs. Our cars are so similar that we didn't feel like we needed to bring a second one. We've raced our All Star car and our (Coca Cola) 600 car. We just brought a car over, worked on our stuff there to keep things easier on the guys, not burn them out and myself, and just move more smoothly through the test."

DID YOU EVER FEEL YOU GOT INTO A RHYTHM AND HAD THAT COMFORT LEVEL THAT YOU HAD IN PAST SINCE YOU WON SO MANY RACES THERE? "Not yet. We're still working on that. We're getting close though."

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT HAVING THE DOVER RACE TAKE PLACE AT NIGHT? "Night races in general are great for our sport. Fans enjoy them more and (so do) drivers, teams, everybody. I would expect to see more tracks run night races. Dover is a hot track so a night event would be easier on everybody."

HOW DO YOU COMPARE DARLINGTON WITH RACING HERE AND CHARLOTTE AND OTHER TRACKS? "Darlington is different than any other race track out there. You cannot go to any track and take that information or driving style or line and apply it to Darlington. It's its own track. That's what I love about it. It's so unique. The corners are different. You run inches off the wall. It's bumpy. It's rough, tearing tires off the car. It's its own race track."

HOW WAS THE RACE TRACK DURING THE TEST AT LOWE'S MOTOR SPEEDWAY? "The track seemed fine. I was there a month ago and broke a tire. (I) had a lot of speed. The Hendrick cars were set up just right. We came back with a harder tire and had less grip and struggled a bit. I don't think it has anything to do with the track. We just need to get the right set-up and really understand what that tire needs so we can see how we are."

WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE THE ALL-STAR RACE MOVE FROM CITY TO CITY OR STAY IN CHARLOTTE? "No, I think it needs to stay in Charlotte. The month of May in Charlotte, there's so much going on at the race track. It's easier on the teams. Believe me, (with) the grandstands and the seating capacity, I really believe in my heart it should stay in Charlotte."

IS YOUR CONFIDENCE AT AN ALL-TIME HIGH? "I would say my confidence is up. I wouldn't say it's as high as it's ever been. I would say in '04 when I lost the championship by eight points and we were winning a lot of races in the final stretch, my confidence was really, really high and it was at the right time. Right now I think if any team gets too confident it might hurt them in the long run. We're still learning as a team and you've just got to stay focused on refining your product so when you have 10 to go you can make it."

-gm racing-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jimmie Johnson
Teams Hendrick Motorsports