JIMMIE JOHNSON , NO. 48 LOWE'S MONTE CARLO (finished 3rd) ON RACING NOSE TO TAIL WITH DALE EARNHARDT JR. "I had a great race. I could tell, when I looked in the mirror, all I would see is the windshield - usually you see a little bit of a...
JIMMIE JOHNSON , NO. 48 LOWE'S MONTE CARLO (finished 3rd)
ON RACING NOSE TO TAIL WITH DALE EARNHARDT JR.
"I had a great race. I could tell, when I looked in the mirror, all I would see is the windshield - usually you see a little bit of a hoot -- and Dale's eyes staring through at me. He was on my bumper pushing me around. Fortunately we had a good balanced car and a good bumper. We learned our lessons in the past few speedway races to make sure we had a good strong bumper so the car would be stable when somebody was pushing us.
"But I was just trying to hang on with everything I had. But when you're the leader, the cars behind you are generating a lot of energy. They're bump-drafting and hitting each other. Leading is probably one of the hardest things to do. Running second or third is probably one of the easiest things. We just held on for as long as we could. We got shuffled out, but still came back for a good finish."
ON ENDING THE RACE UNDER YELLOW
"I couldn't tell what was going on in front of me. I was stuffed up behind the No. 8 (Dale Jr.). I was looking next to me at the No. 29 (Harvick) and racing my race. I was more worried about where I was. They make it very clear in every drivers meeting that after a certain point they will not red flag the race. NASCAR, I'm sure, had valid reasons why they didn't go back to green. There is no way in the world they're going to want to deal with all the criticism they're going to have. They don't want to upset the fans."
DID YOU SEE ANYONE CLEANING UP THE DEBRIS IN TURNS 3 AND 4
"I saw trucks in the grass. I didn't see anybody on the track. But maybe with one or two to go, I saw a few beer cans come over the fence before there was even a sign of us not going back to green."
WHAT WAS THE DEAL WITH TONY STEWART WHEN HE CUT YOU OFF A COUPLE OF TIMES?
"There was nothing there. It was just a racing incident. He may have cut me off a few times. I cut Dale Jr. off a few times. Its just part of restrictor plate racing. But I had a good run and got inside of him off of (turn) 4. I got to about his wheel and I saw him jerk it down to block me but I was already there. I can't go below the yellow line, so I just kind of held my line and let off the gas and just clipped him and sent him down on the inside. It never fails when you're out there racing with one of your friends, you end up running into those guys and you'd rather run into a few other people than your buddies."
IF IT WERE EARLIER, WOULD YOU HAVE BACKED OFF?
"No, I was there. I was inside of him. Until I saw what was coming, I had about a half a second to figure out what I was going to do and I bailed out of the gas. You have to make moves like that, especially with Tony because he's good at drafting and you have to look to any little hole you can get."
WITH DEI'S SUCCESS AT RESTRICTOR PLATE RACING, HAVE THE OTHER TEAMS BECOME MORE COMPETITIVE?
"I think we've closed the gap. We've formed a crew of people at Hendrick Motorsports that are focused exclusively on building speedway cars -- something like DEI has had for a while. They're making us all go to work a lot harder for four races. We're all tired of getting beat up. The RCR cars have made huge gains. I was also surprised to see the No. 42 and the No. 41 running so well."