Rain cancels practice sessions at Talladega Superspeedway Jimmie Johnson -- ...
Rain cancels practice sessions at Talladega Superspeedway
Jimmie Johnson -- #48 Lowe's Chevrolet
DID YOU HEAR THE SIREN GO OFF LAST NIGHT IN THE MOTOR COACH LOT? Yeah, that's always comforting to hear the siren go off the motorcoach lot. And the great thing about the busses is that we have satellite TV. As soon as we heard the siren, of course you turn on the weather channel and the signal goes out. So you sit there wondering what's going to happen and hope that nothing bad's coming to knock on the doors.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON DEI AS THEY'VE BEGUN TO SURGE? I've been saying all year long that it's too early for the Lowe's team and for Hendrick Motorsports. I'm real pleased and real happy with how things are going. Granted we're in a great situation. It's a long season and 26 races just to make the cut. There's a lot that can happen in that course of time. We came out strong and we knew that the cycle of motorsports. The other guys are going to catch up, and we're going to be behind and it's our job to catch up. So, the whole art of this thing with the 10-race stretch at the end to be the champion, is to peak at that point. We knew it was coming. We enjoyed being up front but a lot of people closed the gap. We've just got to get to work and get the timing right so in the final ten we can be up front all the time.
SPECIFICALLY ABOUT DALE JR., WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS WHEN HE WAS STRUGGLING? I know that they've made a lot of changes at DEI and it's hard. It takes time in any organization when you have big changes like that with the chemistry of everyone involved to get things worked. So, we've had some good tracks for Junior and DEI guys and they're stepping up to what they need to do. They're gelling at the same time so I would anticipate seeing them getting stronger and stronger. Yates and those guys are coming into their own. Childress and those guys are coming into their own and won a race. Burton's been up front. I think you're going to see a lot of teams running up front. The team you don't expect to see running up front haven't been so far.
WHAT IS YOUR EXPECTATION GOING INTO DARLINGTON? I'm pretty excited going into Darlington. It's one of the few tracks where the setups don't change much. We've had a good car over the past years there, we should have a good car. We'll have a new tire and new spoiler to worry about. You still have to have a nice setup, a soft setup to take care of the tires. I think that we should be good. There are a few guys that are always strong there. So, I'm sure we'll have our hands full and as long as we stay racing the race track and don't get caught up racing everybody else, we should be in good shape.
WILL TIRES BE AN ISSUE AGAIN? Yeah, I think so. I think that was the goal. I know Goodyear wasn't comfortable giving us the soft tire with all the downforce in the car, so the spoiler was cut down and a softer tire came into play so that we wouldn't have fuel mileage races and handling would be more of a premium. I think that's all working into play as you continue through the rest of the season.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT THE COCA COLA 600, THE HOUSE THAT JIMMIE BUILT, THAT LETS YOU DOMINATE SO WELL THERE? Well, the house that we've done so well in has been changed. The guys at LMS felt like they should ground the track and I will find out soon-I have a Busch test there coming up. I will find out soon what things happened to the race track with the changes that have been made to it. I made a lap in my truck and looked at everything and it looks a lot different. It's going to be a totally different track. The speeds are really, really high even in race trim they're much faster than what we qualified at before. So, when I hear that and think of what kind of racing will come from that, I think of single file on the bottom racing. And I hope that's not the case. There are some grooves in the track that will leave the tires up and hopefully make us look for other grooves. So hopefully, if we do have.I think going to LMS, we will have multiple grooves for the race track. That's what I'm hopeful for and that's what I'm going to see.
DID YOU AND TONY STEWART TALK AFTER LAST WEEK'S INCIDENT? Yeah. Tony and I have been great friends and we always will be. You know, it's just hard racing. Last week, I hate that what happened did happen and we got together. It's just natural that after events, everyone's emotions are high. Things are said and when microphones are in your face immediately and your emotions come through. But, Tony and I are great friends and always will be. What you're seeing is just hard racing. It's been, in a way, funny for me, all the press on the incidents that I've had, especially last weekend. I mean, there were eight other crashes that took place, so eight other opportunities for people to touch each other and cause wrecks. I was one of them as well. But there's been a lot of press and play on it. I think there's been a lot more attention brought to it than what really is there. It's behind us and over and Smoke and I are friends and always will be.
DON'T YOU THINK THAT ATTENTION IS BECAUSE YOU ARE FIRST IN POINTS AND IF YOU WERE 35TH IT WOULDN'T BE LIKE THAT? Yeah, I think the magnifiying glass is definitely on us, being up front. Leading the championship like we have. That's part of what comes with it and these are good lessons for me to learn and get used to, so when we get in the final ten, we're stronger and better emotionally. We should be even stronger when we get to the final ten.
WHAT DOES JEFF GORDON'S RESTRICTOR PLATE SUCCESS DO TO YOUR CONFIDENCE? It helps me out a bunch. I've been right there with him. Unfortunately I've been pushing him a lot. It's been great for me to have good finishes but I want a trophy, a restrictor plate trophy, here soon. We've been working hard. It's nice for Jeff and I and all the Hendrick drivers to come down and know that we have strong pieces that will be up front. I've learned to draft a lot more and I've learned a lot from Jeff and how he's able to put himself in positions to win races and what it takes to do that. The last two stops is where the race is made. Hopefully I can learn my lessons and be up there with him and get a win.
WHAT IS THE ONE TEAM YOU NEED TO BEAT THIS WEEKEND? I think restrictor plate racing has changed quite a bit. Roush typically hasn't been that strong, but Kurt Busch's knowledge of the draft has kept them up front and in the top 5 and in contention to win plate races. DEI, of course, you have a lot of teams now where drivers know you need to team up and work together. You've got the Roush cars as strong as they are and you've got the team working as close as they are. I think the Yates cars will be tough-Elliott's car is always good in the draft. I think you'll probably see a more aggressive and competitive race. You'll see more teams up front than you would typically, just because everybody's smarter and working together.