Talladega II: Johnson - GM Top-10 interview

BEHIND THE HAULER CHAT WITH JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S MONTE CARLO SS: TALK ABOUT YOUR WIN HERE IN THE SPRING AND THE NEW RACING SURFACE: "Anytime you go to a restrictor plate race track in a Hendrick Motorsports car, you feel good. Hendrick...


TALK ABOUT YOUR WIN HERE IN THE SPRING AND THE NEW RACING SURFACE: "Anytime you go to a restrictor plate race track in a Hendrick Motorsports car, you feel good. Hendrick Motorsports has always had great stuff. Jeff Gordon has been able to win a lot of plate races and this year I've been able to win a couple myself. So I'm excited about it. I really don't know what to expect until we get out on the track. I'm ready to go to work."

DID YOU TALK TO NASCAR ABOUT LAST WEEK'S PIT ROAD SPEEDING PENALTY? "Yeah, I spoke to them. They have their display and their sheet and after my conversation with them, the only thing I can see that I did wrong was maybe I took off at the wrong line. It's confusing at the end of pit road with the different lines that we have. I felt like I accelerated at the right line, but they showed me the sheet expressed to me that it was the last pit box leaving pit road. I went all the way down pit road and I knew that's a mistake a lot of guys make and I felt like I went to the right line and accelerated, so there's some confusion about which line I needed to accelerate from. From here on out, that's something I need to do better to make sure I know where that line is. It got me at Pocono and also last weekend (at Kansas City)."

IS THIS A MAKE OR BREAK RACE FOR YOU AND THE OTHER DRIVERS FROM 6TH PLACE ON BACK? "It's hard to work out a strategy. It's hard to say that one race is a make or break a race. I think we'll know a lot more Monday morning after the (Sunday) race is over and we see how everybody finishes. There is one guy who has been very consistent and hasn't had any bad luck. I give a lot of credit to the No. 31 team. They've been in the center of a lot of issues but haven't been tangled up it them and been able to rebound back, but they've still had solid finishes. We've seen some of the favorites having troubles at all three races. I would assume that's going to continue on. So I don't know what to expect. All I know is that I need to get maximum points from here on out and the No. 48 team needs to do everything they can to outperform these other guys in the Chase."

WITH YOUR PROVEN STRENGTH ON PLATE TRACKS AND YOU'RE POSITION IN THE POINTS, IS THIS THE PLACE WHERE YOU CAN BE STRONG AND JUMP BACK IN THIS THING? "That's the way I'm entering the weekend. But as we know, it's hard to get away from anybody here. Even if you have the dominant car, you're still in a big pack. Green flag pit stops take place and things always get jumbled up and it's really hard to be in a secure, safe spot all the time. I know I've got a great race car. I understand the draft a lot better. I'm just going to go out there and put in 100 percent and see where we end up. I, like everybody else, know the risks coming into this track and I could leave here in the middle of this points race if some things take place. I can't count on them. I'm not wishing anybody any back luck. But this is Talladega and anything can happen. I just hope that I stay clean though it and I'm able to get some good points out of here. We need to get some points."

WITH ALL THAT HAPPENED WITH THE PIT ROAD SPEEDING INCIDENT AT KANSAS, HOW DID YOU FINISH ON THE LEAD LAP? "I don't have a clue. I kept going until the checkered came out. When I was on pit road, I looked over and saw the white (flag) and came back around and took the checkered. Maybe their pace was so slow trying to nurse it in on fuel, I don't know. I still am stumped about why we didn't have a caution with a stalled car on pit road and 15 guys pushing a race car down pit road. I would think that would be a caution. So I had a couple of opportunities slide by."

YOU WERE ONE OF THE SEASON'S BIG WINNERS THIS YEAR. RIGHT NOW, OUR POINT LEADER HAS ONE VICTORY AND WE HAVE A ROOKIE IN SECOND AND MARK IN THIRD WITH NO WINS. HAS THIS CHASE FORMAT REALLY REWARDED GUYS WHO WIN RACES LIKE IT IS SUPPOSED TO? "That's a good argument. I got in a good argument doing my XM show the other day with Marty Smith on my radio show about this topic. I've been under the impression that consistency is what championships are made of. As a racer, I've just lived in that world my whole life. As he shared his opinion about that fact that wins don't mean as much and the scenario it's laying out. I've always been an advocate of giving the winner of an event more points. I think something needs to be addressed there. I guess I see both sides of it and I hate to give you answer that's not something that's clear and clean, but I know that consistency pays. And I look at the season that Jeff (Gordon) has had. And I look at the season that Denny (Hamlin) has had with winning two races and being consistent, and I can't see taking anything away from those guys. They've done an awesome job. But does it reward people that are dominating and people that are winning? Maybe not. But it does a good job of honoring guys that have had good seasons and looking after that side of it."

CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE DIFFERENCE IN YOUR TALLADEGA RACE RESULTS IN THE SPRING COMPARED TO THE FALL? "The fall has been a tough one on me. We know that as a race team. Our biggest goal is to leave here finishing the race. We've had everything from an incident before the race with Mark Martin, who had a steering box problem and ran into me and took us out of the race, to being in wrecks and causing wrecks. We've had a variety of things happen in this fall race and hopefully we can turn that around this weekend. I'm not sure why. I feel that we've been competitive. I feel that we've had the speed to win and run up front, and we did in those races that we took the green flag, but we just didn't get the finishes for whatever reason."

DO YOU HAVE A COLLEGE FOOTBALL TEAM FAVORITE? "Yes, I am an OU (University of Oklahoma) fan. I married into the OU brigade. My wife went to OU literally forced me into being an OU fan, which I don't mind being."

ON HIS EXPECTATIONS GOING TO LOWE'S MOTOR SPEEDWAY NEXT WEEKEND "My expectations are high. I'm looking forward to the race. We're going to run the Busch car and the Cup car, so I'll get a lot of extra time on the track with the Busch car that weekend. I'm real curious, and I'm sure everyone is, as to how the track is going to be. We've had some time and some other things have gone on at the track. Is the track going to be as tough to get a hold of when the sun's out or not? I think those are questions we're going to have answered here shortly. But I'm excited for it. We ran well and finished second to the No. 9 and won the All-Star event. We're talking back the car that won the All-Star event, so I feel very good about those things. We ran that car last weekend at Kansas and had an awesome race with it. So I feel good about it. I'm excited about it."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Mark Martin
Teams Hendrick Motorsports