Talladega: Johnson - Friday media visit

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWES IMPALA SS met with media and discussed moving the banquet to Las Vegas, plate racing, the success of Hendrick Motorsports, and more. ON MOVING THE YEAR-END BANQUET FROM NEW YORK TO LAS VEGAS "Vegas was more willing...

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWES IMPALA SS met with media and discussed moving the banquet to Las Vegas, plate racing, the success of Hendrick Motorsports, and more.

ON MOVING THE YEAR-END BANQUET FROM NEW YORK TO LAS VEGAS "Vegas was more willing to cooperate and work with us to make it a better experience and to bring in the fan element as well. So I am open to trying it; its worth trying it for a year. Its tough for me to leave New York because I have a fond spot in my heart for New York and I think that New York is a great place for us to crown our champion. If Vegas doesn't work out I guess we can always go back.

WHAT WOULD YOU SUGGEST THAT NASCAR DOES TO LIVEN UP THE BANQUET IN LAS VEGAS. ADD SHOWGIRLS OR WHAT? "Girls are always an option (laughs). The men will enjoy that. I don't know. I don't remember, maybe it was my rookie year. But we went to an auditorium and we did some things that were much different than normal and I thought it was interesting but I don't think the hardcore fans thought that it really was and then we were back at the Waldorf. So I am not sure what the right balance it but you have the best entertainers, the best singers, you're close to L.A. There are so many options to bringing in some star power and great entertainment. For that matter, I'm sure from a production standpoint, you're in an area where they put on conventions and events all the time, so there's just got to be more options to really liven things up and put on a good show."

CHEVROLET USED TO DOMINATE RESTRICTOR PLATE RACING. HAS THE CAR OF TOMORROW ADDED A LITTLE BIT OF PARITY TO THAT WITH DIFFERENT AUTO MAKERS NOW ENDING UP IN VICTORY LANE? "Yeah, without a doubt. The cars are as close as they've ever been between all the manufacturers. I think in the past, Chevy did a great job of aligning themselves with the top teams and they worked really hard to provide those teams with everything they needed and everything just came together and Chevy was winning a lot of those races. Now, it's really just a sticker package that's different between the cars and with the restrictor plate on the motor, you're looking for one horsepower gain, and then you feel good about that. I go to the shop and the guys are jumping up and down because they found three horsepower. So it's such a small gain that you just stay on top of one another here. It might hurt the stats in that way. But on the flip side, everybody is involved in the race and you're running bigger pack so it probably puts on a better show at this track. So there are some things that kind of go away with the CoT here, but then there are other aspects that get a little stronger."

WITH HMS WINNING THREE RACES, WHAT WOULD IT SAY FOR YOUR TEAM IF YOU COULD MAKE IT FOUR FOR FOUR WITH DALE JUNIOR THIS WEEKEND? "I didn't realize that. That would be awesome. Everybody is working so hard on all four race teams to get the cars to victory lane, and it's really fun at the shop right now. Every team feels like they're going to the track with a shot to win. As odd as it may sound, Mark (Martin) has brought this childhood feeling back just because of the way he's viewing things right now and he's so excited to be a part of everything. It's like a rookie came in, in a sense, or somebody with all this energy who is ready to go. I'm just proud of the whole organization. If it does happen, that would be something special. It would be something Rick (Hendrick) would really enjoy. I think it's a real possibility. I think for a Hendrick car to win is a real strong possibility as well."

REALISTICALLY, HOW MANY DRIVERS CAN WIN HERE ON SUNDAY? AND HOW LOW COULD A REALLY FAST CAR FINISH? "I think there are probably 30 guys who can win, truthfully. Lately I've been evidence that a really good car can finish pretty far back on plate races. So I've just been making the wrong decisions and doing the wrong things. We've been caught up in some wrecks. In '05 or '06 I won a couple of plate races and felt like I had everything under control and then since then, I've just been kind of a mid-packer for whatever reason. Here we usually ride in the back and try to surge to the front. But for the 500 and some of the other races, I'm doing all that I can and I'm sitting there in 15th or 12th, watching my teammates lead and thinking, this sucks (laughs). I want to be up there. Hopefully this weekend, Chad (Knaus) will turn me loose and try to find how to really work with the CoT on these big tracks and put myself up front."

ON THE UNIQUE VENUE OF TALLADEGA, ALABAMA "Yeah, this is a big, big area for NASCAR racing. It's a huge facility and you see a lot of people. We know that we're going to come here and have a awesome fan support and put on a great show. We're thankful to everybody that travels to come to this race and to the local area."

WHAT WOULD IT BE LIKE TO DRIVE ONE OF THESE PLATE CARS AT CALIFORNIA SPEEDWAY? WOULD THERE BE A BIG PACK? COULD THIS CAR WORK THERE? "With the existing California track? Yes. We have to let off there quite a bit and use a lot of brake. So it's really a downforce track even though it's so big and sweeping. In qualifying, you're probably out of the gas for four seconds down in (Turns) 3 and 4 and probably six seconds in (Turns) 1 & 2. So you're out of the gas a while. We're here, and you never even think about lifting. So that's really the big difference on why we can run in the big pack.

"If we had a plate on it? I never thought about it. It would slow us down a lot. I'm not sure where it would put us horsepower-wise. It would be four to 500 I guess? It might be something similar to that. You might be able to consider it a plate track and draft as you would normally see, maybe."

-credit: gm racing

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Series NASCAR Cup