Talladega II: Raybestos Rookie Friday rain notes

JIMMIE JOHNSON in the ...

JIMMIE JOHNSON in the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet will start from the pole Sunday afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway after qualifying was rained out.

YOU ARE NEW TO THE POINTS RACE. DOES THAT WORK TO YOUR ADVANTAGE?

"Our whole team is very fortunate to not have been in a points battle before. We don't have the fears or a night when you are lying there wondering about three years ago you lost it by a few points or whatever those things are. We don't know any better. All we know is that we've tried to have an open mind and a realistic mind of the season and we've blown away all the expectations that we set out to achieve. We've got a shot at doing something that's never been done and that makes us smile even more and makes it even more fun for us. I hope we are able to continue this mindset in years to come but I think a lot of it is just due to the fact that this is our first time in a points battle and we're able to kind of play dumb in some respects that we don't know any better. It's been a lot of fun and the guys are having a great time with it and I know that I am as well."

AT THIS STAGE OF THE SEASON, DO YOU STILL CONSIDER YOURSELF A ROOKIE?

"Believe me, I feel like a rookie. You make mistakes. I've crashed in qualifying, crashed in practice, and had some different things go on that when you look back on it you're like 'Okay, if I would have been patient here or if I would have tried this or that.'

I still feel like a rookie. I feel that out on the racetrack racing with everybody I'm very comfortable around everyone out there and give them a lot of respect and I see that respect coming my way now. Maybe in the competition, heat of the moment side, I don't feel that way but I know I make mistakes and I put a lot of that on being a rookie. But I'm sure that everybody makes mistakes and you just try to find a way to justify it somehow."

YOU MADE YOUR WINSTON CUP DEBUT ONE YEAR AGO AT THE OCTOBER RACE AT CHARLOTTE. HOW LONG AGO DOES THAT SEEM TO YOU?

"Actually it was a year ago today. Leading up to the whole week, the Lowe's week, with having my Busch duties and my Winston Cup duties, I was stressed out. I didn't know what was going to happen and to not having any provisionals, anything to fall back on, I'm in the Lowe's car at Lowe's Motor Speedway and my first time trying to qualify and we were able to qualify 15th. Once we cleared that hurtle, that was huge. Today, the fourth is a day that I have a lot of happy memories of from qualifying for my first Winston Cup race but it's also the day that Blaise Alexander died last year. In that same day I lost my best friend and then I made my first Winston Cup race in fine fashion. It was a very weird day."

WITH YOUR EXPERIENCE FROM THE APRIL RACE, ARE YOU MORE COMFORTABLE WITH SUNDAY'S RACE?

"We were running inside the top-five at the end trying to make some moves to get to the front and win. We stayed there all day long. I really learned a lot from the three races that I've ran this year. The biggest thing that I've learned is that you need to spend 90 percent of your time looking in the mirror blocking and keeping the guys behind you and that aero bubble that's on the front of these race cars to keep you in front of them. You've got to spend more time doing that than you do looking out the windshield. As the season has gone on and the more experience I've gotten in restrictor plate racing I've become a lot better at that. I'm looking forward to Sunday. I think we've got a shot at winning the race.

CHAD KNAUS, CREW CHIEF, #48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET

"I was looking forward to qualifying.  We typically qualify really well on
the superspeedways.  We sat on the pole last time and sat on the pole down in
Daytona so I was looking forward to it.  The Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo was
running really good.  We'll start on the front row and see what happens."

HOW BIG IS IT TO GET A GOOD STARTING SPOT HERE AT TALLDEGA?

"It's pretty important. The big reason why you want to have a good qualifying effort here at Talladega is to get a good pit pick. The one thing that we have for us right now is that starting on the front row possibly we could lead that first lap and that would be five bonus points. That might help us out a little bit."

WITH MORE PIT STOPS HERE SUNDAY, HAVE YOU TOLD YOUR GUYS TO BE EXTRA CAUTIOUS?

"No. We're only going to be doing about five stops and shoot we do more than that usually in half a race at most other places so no that's not going to effect us in the least."

-raybestos-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Blaise Alexander