Talladega: Top three qualifiers press conference

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S MONTE CARLO (on second pole of year): "In this race you really don't know what to expect. In qualifying itself is kind of a separate race. It's one thing to go fast here for a couple of laps, but to get the car to...

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S MONTE CARLO (on second pole of year):

"In this race you really don't know what to expect. In qualifying itself is kind of a separate race. It's one thing to go fast here for a couple of laps, but to get the car to run well in the draft and not get tight over the long run on this track is real hard to do. We'll work on it, keep after it. But we're very excited and proud of everything that's going on at Hendrick Motorsports and to be a part of it. This car was pretty much destroyed, it looked like a short-track car, after the race in Daytona and the guys cut everything off but the roof and started over. Usually you get to go to the wind tunnel or test the car to try to sort it out, but with our hectic schedule and all the other tests that we've done we weren't able to work on the car or go test or do anything like that. This morning when the car came off the truck we didn't have any idea what to expect. It's just a really nice feeling to walk in, kind of scared a little bit and wonder what's going to happen, and ending up driving out the same gate that afternoon with the pole. It's a pretty net accomplishment."

HAVE YOU BEEN SURPRISED AT YOUR SUCCESS AS A ROOKIE? "One thing I really try to do is live by the truth. I had a solid Busch career, won one race. Didn't dominate by any means. In ASA I was strong I ran two years there, won two races. In off-road stuff, where I came from, we did dominate there and was very successful. But this has gone and as this year was approaching, last year I didn't know what to expect. I was just as how everybody else feels and was wondering. I knew I was going to climb into great equipment and now that I'm in that equipment and have a full-time crew chief that relationship with Chad Knaus has really grown and the cars that are being put underneath me are incredible, so I'm very surprised, to answer your question. I'm sure other people are, But as success has been coming it's been building confidence in myself and in the team that we know when we're on our game we're competitive. I thought Texas was a place where we legitimately had a shot to win. Vegas was kind of a surprise. Atlanta I knew we were going to run well, finished third. I was really happy about that. Then coming into Texas we had that momentum and mindset where we came to win. And I think that will be our mindset at most of the mile and a halfs that we're going to be faced with this year and it's been a surprise and a great feeling."

HOW MUCH MORE PREPARED ARE YOU TO RACE AT A PLATE RACE, MORE THAN AT DAYTONA? "I did a learn a lot and experience is the key especially at these plate races. I do feel I'm at a disadvantage in that department and unfortunately nowadays you can get anything you want as fast as you want it, but experience doesn't come that way; I gotta wait years for that. So I'm probably at a disadvantage come Sunday afternoon, but I did learn a lot, and the biggest thing I really learned is how patient you need to be. Racing as hard as you can for a fraction of an inch so you didn't lose the draft and you held your position really bit a lot of guys at Daytona. You get frustrated and you get shuffled out and you end up in a crash. I realized how long 500 miles realy is. That was my first taste of it. And I've been trying to adapt to that all season long. A Busch race, man, that just seems like only one segment of a Cup race. That's over quick. Learning a lot in experience and patience."

ON THE RECENT INCIDENTS AND NASCAR'S PENALTIES: "I think it sends a message to everybody. Even what they did in the Busch race. There were some people taking each other out and retaliating there and they put their foot down. I've been real lucky, I haven't been in that situation yet. I hope I don't ever get faced with that situation. We all race so close to each other so many times a year you're bound to get somebody upset. My view on it (is) you have to hold your own out there and if someone puts a tire mark on you you need to fight back, whether you put one or two on them. Where's the line? And everybody has their own feelings for it. The stuff aater races are over and some of the other stuff going on besides Kevin's incident. These guys work their butts to put these cars underneath you and you go 500 miles and the car's in one piece and you run in the back of somebody and knock the nose off it. To me that just doesn't make a lot of sense. I've had to work on these cars my whole life, no sense in making unneeded work, so everybody has their own style and how they like to take care of things. I'm just real fortunate that I haven't had to face that situation in my stock-car career yet."

ROBBY GORDON, NO. 31 CINGULAR WIRELESS MONTE CARLO (second):

"As far as the qualifying run, it was pretty good. Obviously, the team has a lot to do with superspeedway restrictor-plate racing and they came prepared this time. We tore this car up in Daytona and they were able to put it back together. We qualified the same car sixth in Daytona and they were able to put it back and put it in a position where we qualified second. You look at it and say oh, man, where can I find four hundredths of a second, as the difference between first and second. The guys just done a great job this season. Unfortunately, we haven't had the final result to show for it, but we've been qualifying good and it's important to qualify good here but the most important thing is to be around the full 500 miles to have a shot for the win."

MICHAEL WALTRIP, NO. 15 NAPA MONTE CARLO (third):

"My qualifying run was good. When you travel 2.6 miles and you come up four hundredths short, and even though it's a great effort and I'm proud of my team it's a little disappointing. We qualified the same car in Daytona in eighth, and raced it to a fifth place finish. Slugger went to work on it and that's probably the closest 1-2-3 qualifying that we've seen at a restrictor plate race. That might not be correct. But I would almost venture to bet that it is. Usually you see guys stretch it out a little bit and win the pole by a big amount. This was a real tight qualifying result and I'm really proud that my boys were able to tune up the NAPA Chevy to give me a chance to win the pole. When you drive a lap around here for qualifying you just try to hit your marks perfectly and don't try to input any steering at all, let the car kind of roll through the corners itself and I did everything I wanted to do and I was proud of the lap. You can worry about where four hundredths were forever, but they just weren't there for us today. We'll be ready to race. We came to Talladega solely with the thought of only a win would make us happy and that's where we're at right now."

-tmc-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Chad Knaus
Teams Hendrick Motorsports