CHEVY NSCS AT DOVER TWO: Jimmie Johnson Press Conference Transcript


AAA 400

American Muscle


SEPTEMBER 30, 2011


JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S/KOBALT TOOLS CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Dover International Speedway and discussed the Chase, racing at Dover, working with his crew chief Chad Knaus and other topics. Full transcript:


TALK ABOUT THIRD RACE AT DOVER A PLACE YOU GET AROUND PRETTY WELL: “We’re excited to be at Dover. It is arguably one of our best tracks for the No. 48 team. Just excited to be here even from a qualifying standpoint. We all know how important qualifying is. This track has been real good to us in a lot of ways and we could leave here with a great run. Hopefully a win and get some great momentum working for our efforts for our sixth championship and make a whole bunch of points. So, excited for this weekend’s opportunity.”


TWO THINGS – IS IT GOOD THAT EVERYONE IS TALKING ABOUT YOU RIGHT NOW? WHAT ABOUT THIS TRACK SUCKING YOU IN AND DO YOU LET THAT ENTER YOUR MIND? “I try not to focus on the negatives. Thinking about crashes, they do happen here and you don’t have the luxury of spinning out here and saving it although I did that on the front stretch somehow years ago in qualifying. That is one of the very very few that ever happened. You just focus on doing your job and going fast. We’ve had very good race cars here over the years and I’m excited to be here for that reason. Drivers talking about us….it is what it is. I wish it was because we won the first two races and had that statement out there that guys were talking about. But, it’s not that way and we’ve got two races behind us and eight to go and still plenty of time to be a part of this championship.”


HAVE YOU SPENT ANY MORE TIME WITH CHAD THIS WEEK DISCUSSING WHAT YOU WANT TO DO IN THE WEEKS GOING FORWARD? “No, it’s been business as usual. We did have a function that Lowe’s came to the shop and the Lowe’s execs spent some time with us, congratulation the No. 48 team for making the Chase. But, outside of that, it’s the same stuff. We’re working as hard as we can to bring the best setup to the race track; our best cars and feel very good about this weekend’s race.”


HAVE YOU AND CHAD DISCUSSED THE CONVERSATION ON THE RADIO LAST WEEKEND AT NEW HAMPSHIRE? “No, nothing off of this. After 10 years of working together, there are plenty of things that we know about each other and a lot of discussions that have taken place. There hasn’t been anything more than normal. I mean, when you work with someone as long as we have, for over 10 years now, there are hot spots and buttons that can be pushed that send someone over the edge. We know what took place last weekend and he knows at times I can be frustrated with his cheerleading. That is what I said on the radio. So, it’s nothing new to us. I know a lot of people are reacting to it and think that it is something abnormal. There’s a lot of other instances throughout the last 10 years where stuff like this has gone on and during our review of races and review of things and how to be a better group-a better team; we talk about this stuff all the time. So, yes it wasn’t our finest moment on Sunday, but, it is what we deal with. It’s been part of what we’ve been dealing with for 10 years.”


HOW CRITICAL IS IT TO CAPITALIZE AT THIS TRACK NOW? “It’s really important. It’s not…I don’t think we’re in a position where it’s win or nothing. We need to get a top-three run here. There’s still eight races left. When we look at how well we performed at Chicago. Fuel got a hold of us there and we should have been top-three and we ended up 10th. Last weekend, even with some of the creative radio chatter that took place, I was in position to finish probably top-10 if I didn’t have that contact with the No. 18 car (Kyle Busch) and that was just racing stuff. So, if could we take back and didn’t have an 18th and had a 10th at Loudon, we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation. I don’t think we’re looking for the walk-off home run by any means right now. It’s just finishing where we should. At Chicago we didn’t have the fortune to finish where we should have and that is just the way it works with fuel mileage. Last weekend was some contact on-track and this weekend, we’ve got to go out and finish where we should. That is really the way I see it right now.”


DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU CAN DRAW ON PREVIOUS CHASE EXPERIENCE AND KNOWING HOW TO WIN A CHASE RACE? “Experience is extremely helpful and important. We’ll need to….it will pull on seasons, maybe like 2006 where we got off to a slow start and were able to rally back and end up on top. We’re doing all we can, I can promise you. Everybody at Hendrick Motorsports is giving us all that they have. My No. 48 team is committed and focused on doing the best job they can and I am as well. We look forward to putting up a great finish the weekend.”


DO YOU FIND IT TO BE A PRETTY WEIRD CHASE AND PRETTY WIDE OPEN? “I think that this year has been that way. It has been really tough to have a driver and team stay on top for a long period of time. I think a lot of drivers spoke to that in the pre-Chase media before the Chase started. If you go back to Richmond, there was a stretch there where the No. 14 (Tony Stewart) wasn’t running well. And some of Tony’s comments, you could tell the place where they were mentally. It wasn’t in a true championship mindset. Well, two weeks of winning can certainly turn that around. So, my point…we just don’t know. It is easy, we all want to predict now. But we can’t. We have to run all 10 races. Whoever does catch fire and can stay consistent, they can have a run-away year. But I haven’t seen anything to show me that it is going to be a run-away year for anyone.”


QUESTION INAUDIBLE: “I haven’t looked that closely at just Carl (Edwards). I just know that 12 Chasers, they are usually the 12 best in that year and the 12 best in our sport, they’re going to be in the top-10. So it’s not just Carl, it’s a lot of guys in the Chase are going to continually finish top-10.”


IS THERE A SENSE OF URGENCY FOR YOUR TEAM? “We’ve been in this position before and have been behind. Pressure yes. There is pressure to perform each and every week. Some from the outside and ton from the inside. Inside of my own head, inside of my own team. We know what we are capable of and we’ve clearly done an amazing job over the last five years. But, it doesn’t guarantee anything for this year. There is pressure within that point as well. Yes, in pro sports, including NASCAR…pressure is everywhere. These final 10 races take that whole pressure scale and multiply it by some crazy number. Pressure is everywhere for every team.”


HOW MUCH HAS BRAD KESELOWSKI SURPRISED YOU THIS YEAR? “He certainly has surprised me and I think that I am looking at more of a whole team resurgence than just Brad. With Brad’s success in Nationwide and the progression we’ve seen of Brad. We’ve watched him on Saturday’s race and be toe-to-toe with the Cup guys. As the year has developed, Penske has really come around with both cars and have been very very strong. And then to see the growth between him and Paul (Wolfe, crew chief) and how they are working together. So I look at everything related to the No. 2 car and Penske and say those guys have done an awesome job all year long. And, I’m impressed on all fronts with what they have done.”


IS THERE A PART OF YOU THAT REACHES INSIDE YOURSELF TO FIND SOMETHING DEEPER THAN YOU HAVE EVER REACHED? “To keep this streak alive; to stay on top as we hope to do, you have to continue to find new ways to do it. I’ve looked back at the first championship and how important that was. And how much pressure there was on me to win that. I look back at that as the toughest year and digging the deepest. But I don’t want to sell short anything that has happened between then and now. We’re working as hard as we can once again to win the championship. Year one to me has…I had more weight on my shoulders I guess I could say. This year, it’s still pretty early.  I certainly feel that I can be a part of this championship battle in a couple of weeks if we go out and do what we know we can do. So, I guess maybe this year, I can’t give you my answer yet. It’s too early in the Chase. But looking back, I still would put it all on year one.”


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