Talladega II: Johnson - Friday media visit

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS met with media and discussed strategy at Talladega SuperSpeedway, the Chase, next week's race at Charlotte, and more. DO YOU HAVE AN APPROACH ABOUT DRIVING AT TALLADEGA ON SUNDAY? "I don't know if I have...

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS met with media and discussed strategy at Talladega SuperSpeedway, the Chase, next week's race at Charlotte, and more.

DO YOU HAVE AN APPROACH ABOUT DRIVING AT TALLADEGA ON SUNDAY? "I don't know if I have one yet. We all know what we have to lose here and how tight the points championship battle is. I'm trying not to think too much about it because the race itself changes so much. But you can't have a strategy that's very well planned that far out. I just take it as it comes. If you're in a position that's uncomfortable or you see something going on, you need to get yourself out of that position. And that's really the approach I'm going to have on Sunday.

"I'm not sure how qualifying will go. I think some of the go-or-go-homers will take the risk like you'd expect and you might have somebody who didn't anticipate being on the pole today and it will probably come from that group. But I know Chad (Knaus) has worked real hard on this car. It's been great in the wind tunnel so I feel like we're going to have a very competitive car come race time."

WHEN YOU'VE GOT A LOT TO LOSE IF YOU GET CAUGHT UP IN A BIG WRECK HERE, IS IT SMART TO REALLY HANG BACK IF YOU'RE NOT RUNNING FIRST OR SECOND? DO YOU THINK ABOUT NOT MAKING A GREAT SHOW FOR THE FANS, BUT MAKING A SMART MOVE? "Not to be disrespectful of the fans, but the only thing I'm worried about is collecting points and I don't care how I do it or how I get there. The problem with riding, and what we found last time, is there were more guys hanging back than were up front, so actually up front was safer than being in the back. And that's what we have to monitor inside the car. The goal is to not be in the eye of the storm, and look at who is running in the pack and you decide if that's the crowd you want to run with and in the spring race, there were more guys in the back than up front.

"So we're going to keep a close eye on that and try to run in the area where it's the safest. And I imagine you'll see 12 guys essentially nose to tail. Maybe eleven; I know Junior is not going to mess with any of that stuff."

IF YOU ARE IN THE BACK, WHEN WOULD YOU MAKE A MOVE TO THE FRONT? "It seems like 20 (laps) to go is a decent time. What's weird is that something might happen and there's going to be a pile up. So at 20 to go, all of a sudden everybody takes off and now you have the worlds colliding at once and everybody is fighting for position. That can be dangerous as well. And again, I don't think there is a clear strategy because in the draft there are so manhy other pieces to the puzzle to make it work out that you just need to be smart and evaluate your risk at that point in time.

"And you may go earlier than you want to go to the front; you may go later, but the thing I fear at the end of the race is if you wait too long and the caution comes out and you have a green-white-checkered like we've seen a lot and you start moving too late and trying to work your way up through the pack, now you're in 20th on a green-white-checkered and in best case, you're going to be 18th. And that's the tough thing that you've got to hang on to and look at."

AS A RACE CAR DRIVER, WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE? "I'd say it just depends on what level you are in your career, but I guess patience would be the biggest thing that applies to driving the car and dealing with your team and your personal life and all the things that exist."

LOOKING AHEAD TO NEXT WEEK AT LOWE'S MOTOR SPEEDWAY, HOW WAS THE TEST AND YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO WIN THERE, RIGHT? "I wish (laughs). Since the track has been repaved, we end up competitive at the end of the race to get things right, but we've had tough practice sessions in the past and tough tests in the past. The test that we had a couple of weeks ago didn't go as we wanted it to there. But I have a lot of confidence in the team and I know when we get into race conditions that our stuff will be where it needs to be. If it were the old track, I would feel more confident about it. But right now I think of it almost like I would Texas. I've won there, but it's still a very challenging track. I don't know where we're going to be and I've just got to show up ready for anything."

THE PGA PLAYOFFS ARE KIND OF LIKE THE CHASE. THIS YEAR A GUY LOCKED UP THE TITLE BEFORE THE LAST EVENT. HOW LIKELY IS THAT TO HAPPEN IN THIS CHASE? HOW GREAT WOULD THAT BE FOR YOU TO HAVE IT LOCKED UP EARLY? "It would be amazing to have that. I'm not sure it's what the sport needs or what NASCAR would be in favor of, but as the individual who could lock it up, what a way to go to the last race of the year and enjoy it. I don't think there is a possibility of that taking place. And when I look at the parallels between golf and racing, and it's a different deal and I think they need to revamp their program because the fact that you have guys missing events and still winning like we saw last year, I just don't think that's right. When you have a championship battle that takes place, you need all your stars in there.

"And they're passing out a lot of money. The guys that are kind of interesting in that title and it doesn't seem like there's a big draw for that title, unlike NASCAR. Our entire season is built on those 12 drivers over those 10 races."

YOU ARE ONE OF TWO GUYS THAT HAVE MADE EVERY RACE. CAN YOU EMPATHIZE WITH THE GUYS WHO ARE NOT IN THE CHASE AND WHAT A RACE LIKE TALLADEGA MEANS TO THEM? HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT? "I've not missed it (the Chase), so it's tough for me to understand. To be honest with you, I don't know what that would be like. I'm sure at some point in my career I will experience that and I'll have a much better understanding then, but from my standpoint, there are guys out there racing for this championship and I think the field is doing a very good job of recognizing that and understanding that. At the same time, the non-Chasers still have every right to go out there and lead laps and win a race. That's what they're here for. So I might be more lenient than some guys and their perspective on it, but if we all continue to race each other with respect, then I don't see and issue and I know those guys are fighting for their position in the points if it's go-or-go-homers, or if it's 13th or 15th, you know there are a lot of marks and there is money relative to every spot you finish in.

"So, in that aspect you have drivers fighting for their jobs and teams that are trying to perform for sponsors so I do empathize for them some. We had 26 races to get there; it wasn't just one tragic event that kept them from making the Chase. But I see everybody doing a good job of racing each other as of now."

GIVEN THE NATURE OF HOW WEIRD THE RACING IS, WOULD YOU PREFER TALLADEGA NOT BE A CHASE RACE OR ARE YOU IN FAVOR OF THE WEIRDNESS IN THE CHASE? "I would prefer it not to be a Chase race. I would like to have races where we can control the outcome. I love Talladega. I think the spring race is a blast. I like Daytona as well. When you get in the Chase like this, it's tough to not have that control. And this is coming from a competitor's standpoint, obviously. If you talk to the fans or maybe even ask what corporate America wants to see and think, it's probably more appealing for that aspect than from the competitor's live. If it was up to a driver and his point of view on it, I'd get rid of it. But I'm not sure many other people feel that way if they're not in this garage area."

ALAN MILLER IS FACING CHARGES IN CONNECTION WITH THE INDICTMENT OF HELIO CASTROVENES AND TAX EVASION. TO CLARIFY, HAS HE SERVED AS YOUR ATTORNEY AND DOES HE STILL REPRESENT YOU? HOW DOES THIS SITUATION IMPACT THAT RELATIONSHIP? "Yeah, it's certainly shocking. Alan has been my attorney since I was 15 years old. He'd been a great friend and has helped me with a lot of different things. I have an outside tax group that I use, so he really is my attorney. As of now, everything is still the same. I'm learning a lot as time goes on here and there is still a lot to be investigated and covered moving forward. So, I'll certainly keep my eyes on the subject and (will be) trying to figure out what's going on."

WOULD YOU CONSIDER DISASSOCIATING YOURSELF WITH ALAN MILLER IF THERE ARE THINGS THAT COME OUT THAT ARE NOT TO YOUR LIKING? "I've got a business to run and need to protect myself and my family and with everything I've done with Alan, he has respected my thoughts and me as a driver as though he was a parent of some sort. He has really done a phenomenal job for me. And we've been together since I was 15 or 16 years old and I've never seen anything out of character from him. So, I'm shocked. I know he is shocked. And as time goes on we'll all learn and understand more. But I'm just kind of holding tight right now and making sure that when I start making decisions in what's going to happen, that I have all the information at that point in time."

-credit: gm racing

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Series NASCAR Cup