MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
NASCAR PLAYOFFS MEDIA DAY
LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
SEPT. 13, 2018
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S FOR PROS CAMARO ZL1, met with members of the media at Playoff Media Day. Select quotes:
OBVIOUSLY, YOU WANT TO WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP. IF YOU DON’T, HOW WILL YOU VIEW THE 2018 SEASON?
“It would be a disappointing year if we didn’t win a race. I’ve set a high bar to win since my rookie year, so winning a race seems like something we should be able to do. If that doesn’t happen, I’d certainly be disappointed. I do know that we have not left anything on the table and poured everything we can into it. Not that it would be satisfying on every level, but making sure we acknowledge the effort that went into it and not beat ourselves too hard on it. But I certainly hope that doesn’t happen.”
WHAT IS THE MOST POSITIVE ASPECT OF THIS YEAR – THE NEW CHEVY, CHASE (ELLIOTT) GET HIS FIRST WIN? WHAT HAS BEEN A HIGHLIGHT SO FAR THIS SEASON?
“So far, from a company standpoint, definitely Chase’s win and for Hendrick Motorsports to win their 250th. I think I’m in the midst of learning a lot about myself and going through this journey of being in a really tough year, year and a half. And I can’t wait to look back and reflect and see the lessons learned when this thing is behind me. So, from a personal level, it would be that and the other would be Chase.”
THIS SEEMS TO BE A YEAR IN WHICH YOU STRUGGLED WITH PERFORMANCE THOUGH YOU’RE IN THE PLAYOFFS. HAS YOUR PSYCHE BEEN AFFECTED MUCH?
“You’re not human if it doesn’t bother you, and I do know that I have a role in the performance of this car and a leadership role in the team. I don’t know that I am responsible for where we’re at as well. It has been hard on me. There have been days and weeks and, unfortunately, months when I’m much stronger dealing with it and other times when it’s a little more difficult. I’ve been pretty hard on myself since the Darlington race. We had a great car and we could have run up there in the top three, but I made a series of mistakes that triggered other mistakes within the team and we had a terrible night. I’m just trying to pull it back in and not get ahead of myself in some respects. Just execute at a high level, which I know how to do. The speed in the car is the speed in the car. There’s only so much I can do about that.”
IS THIS A FIRST ROUND THAT YOU FEEL, THE WAY IT’S SET UP, MORE INCLINED FOR YOU TO DEFINITELY ADVANCE?
“It seems like a tougher round for me. Richmond has not been my best track over the years and the ROVAL is such an unknown. All I have from the ROVAL is our test session. We had a really good test there. Maybe there’s a chance for us to get a win there. Chase got his win on a road course, so that should apply. Pulling back to the 10,000-foot view and looking at it, Vegas has been strong for us over the years, Richmond not so much, and the ROVAL I don’t know.”
THE ROVAL SEEMS LIKE A WHOLE ‘NOTHER LEVEL OF UNPREDICTABILITY:
“I’m prepared for it. I just feel like the mile-and-a-half stuff has been amongst a couple manufacturers and a couple cars, so I don’t see and opportunity there. Richmond … we had a good run in the spring. I’m preparing, because I don’t want to be caught off-guard, that I have to go in (to Charlotte) to win to survive and move on.”
LOOKING AT HOW AARON RODGERS CAME BACK SUNDAY NIGHT FROM A KNEE INJURY TO LEAD HIS TEAM TO VICTORY, I KIND OF THOUGHT OF YOU BECAUSE HE WAS NOT GOING TO BE DENIED. DO YOU GET THAT?
“I watched the game. It is so inspirational to see that happen, and I’ve been able to live through and create a few of those moments on my own. It’s amazing to experience it and when you reflect back you’re like, ‘Wow, I really did that.’ You want to believe you’re capable of it, but until you do it and see it you just don’t know. I know what we’re capable of and I know we’ve done the unthinkable in the past. To win this eighth championship, we’re going to have to do something that’s never been done before, so I have optimism and belief that we’ll have another look at an eighth championship. I don’t know if it’s this year, next, the year after, but we have everything stacked up around it to make it happen. I don’t expect it to come easy; no championship does.”
DO YOU LIVE FOR THE FACT THAT YOU CAN DO SOMETHING THAT PEOPLE DON’T EXPECT?
“I’ve never been stats-driven. It’s really been about the experience. I love being around people and working with my team. I love driving that race car. So, for me, I had a lot of years when I wasn’t very successful in my ascension to my time at Hendrick Motorsports. I fell in love with racing for my own reasons and it wasn’t because of trophies or fame or money. It was because of the experience I had driving the car and I’m still very much in that space. I’m not expecting anybody to say, ‘Oh, poor Jimmie Johnson.’ But I would ask people not to think that I’ve had enough and am ready to throw in the towel or that I don’t care or don’t want it. That’s just unfair. Anybody who knows me knows that I’m the opposite.”
WE KNOW YOU LIKE TO BIKE. ARE THERE PLACES AT EACH TRACK YOU LIKE TO HIT UP TO GO BIKE?
“We have our routes mapped out pretty well. There’s been quite a strong culture and scene for probably 12 to 15 years and we’ve done nothing but refine routes and find new places to explore and ride. Most of it is road riding and then there’s the occasional mountain biking that takes place.”
ISM RACEWAY HAS A DIFFERENT FINISH LINE IN A DIFFERENT TURN. IS IT GOING TO MAKE THAT MUCH OF A DIFFERENCE TO YOU?
“I feel like restarts will be a big difference. We’re not going that fast with the start line’s location so the aggression will be a lot higher going into Turn 3. We’ve seen that running on the racetrack isn’t necessarily and there is a lot of apron down there to deal with trying to shortcut the corner and try to take advantage of the situation, so I think the restarts will be the most noticeable change in action.”
IF YOU COULD PICK ONE FIGURE FROM THE HALL OF FAME, WHO WOULD YOU LIKE TO RACE AGAINST?
“I’d go Dale Sr. I literally missed my opportunity to race with him by a handful of months before we lost him, so that September ’01 race in Charlotte was my first Cup race for I missed (racing) him by just a short period of time.”
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