TEAM CHEVY AT MICHIGAN 1: Jimmie Johnson Breakout Session Highlights

MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
FIREKEEPERS CASINO 400
MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
JUNE 7, 2019

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 ALLY CAMARO ZL1 Media Breakout Session Highlights:

WHAT DO YOU EXPECT OUT OF THE CAR THIS WEEKEND?
“Yeah, I think in the past the rules were so different here that not much is going to apply. Just from the first practice we just had, with the amount of throttle you run, it’s a much different experience. There are two short practices today to work through a long list of ideas. So, we are plugging along but it’s going to be a wild race. The cars will be close together, really packed, a lot of passing and a lot of side-by-side.”

ARE YOU HAPPY WITH THIS PACKAGE?
“Nope (laughs). No, we haven’t won yet, so I am not happy.”

HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO SPEND SOME TIME WITH CHAD (KNAUS) SINCE HE MOVED OVER TO THE 24 TEAM? WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP WITH YOU GUYS?
“Yeah, on the Easter off weekend we were able to spend the day together. We were both vacationing near one another and we did connect and had some fun. So, yeah we see each other, but not as much as we used to since we are not working together. But we have a friendship and a bond. Our work life strained it for a few years there, but it didn’t impact it and we are still great friends.”

HOW ARE THINGS GOING WITH KEVIN (MEENDERING)?
“They are going well. We want more, we need to be doing better than we are but he is a great guy….a hardworking guy. We just need some more speed in our Ally Chevy.”

HE IS THE HOMETOWN BOY HERE AT MICHIGAN. DID HE PUT ANY EXTRA EMPHASIS ON THIS RACE FOR YOU?
“No, he hasn’t said anything. I think there is an unspoken desire to do well through the whole season. Doesn’t matter the specific track. But as you bring it up, I do know he is from this area and hopefully we can give him something good close to home.”

DO YOU THINK YOU GUYS ARE GETTING THERE?
“Some weekends we feel like we are there. Last weekend we had some mechanical issues that we learned about post-race which put the sting in our performance. It just depends on the weekend or the hour. We live and die by the stopwatch unfortunately. But he is a great guy and working really hard.”

HOW WAS YOUR PRACTICE AND HOW FAST DO YOU THINK THE CARS WILL BE HERE?
“We’re all in a situation where we are trying to trim the cars out as much as we can because the track is so big and see what we can get away with. We certainly found some limits to the car driving comfortably. It’s one thing to have it going fast down the straightaway, but if you’re crawling through the turn, then it’s not really good. I saw a lot of cars really unhappy out there through the turns. Mine was in the ‘really fast down the straightaway’ category and not so good through the turns. We’re working on it for sure.”

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT WHERE YOUR TEAM IS RIGHT NOW?
“I think we are going in the right direction. We look at Kansas and Charlotte; we’ve been progressing and being more competitive. Pocono was really frustrating for me and to get home and realize that we had something go wrong with the car eased the pain and the result that we had. We know that we need to be running top-five consistently and we need to get there soon.”

GOING INTO THE OFF WEEKEND, DO YOU TREAT IT AS MORE OF A TIME TO HAVE FUN OR DO YOU WANT TO BE IN THE SHOP AND WORKING ON GETTING THAT WIN?
“You try to balance both aspects of it. My kids are out of school for the summer, so it’s a time where we want to travel. Through my career, I’ve always been able to take these off weeks and use them as a way to clear my mind and get back to where we need to be. Through the world of e-mailing, texting, phone calls and meetings we have set up, I can go somewhere and work remotely to stay in touch. Years ago, we use to be able to test. When that happened, there weren’t really any family vacations, especially when you have Chad Knaus as your Crew Chief. We would test maybe two times on an off week back when we were able to. The world has changed a lot; our rules have changed a lot. Now the way it works, I can travel and work remotely.”

FOR YOU, DO YOU GET THE SAME DRIVE FROM KEVIN MEENDERING OR ARE YOU NOW PUSHING YOURSELF?
“I feel like Chad (Knaus) certainly taught me a lot of ways to look within to figure out how to get better, how to have self-awareness, how to help motivate the team, what my duties really were, and how to be on top of those each and every week. After 17 seasons working together, that’s just instilled in me. It’s the way I go to the track and the way I race. I’m very thankful to have that kind upbringing and now William (Byron) is learning at the highest level how to be prepared week in and week out.”

WHAT HAS BEEN THE BEST PART ABOUT YOUR NEW PARTNERSHIP WILL ALLY THIS YEAR?
“Really helping people learn about it. They have really used their racing program to push their brand name and get it out there. To know the effect that we are having on the general public and the awareness we have brought to the name is very satisfying.”

THIS TRACK IS ONE YOU HAVE DONE WELL IN THE PAST. WHAT DO YOU THINK THE KEY IS GOING TO BE IN HAVING A GOOD WEEKEND?
“I love coming to this track. The one thing this year is that with this rules package, the track drives way different than what we have experienced before. Honestly, I think a lot of us are considering this like a first trip here, in a sense. The rules package really is different. To run easy, flat and wide open around here is something that wouldn’t have happened here before. It’s different.”

HOW DOES THE DIFFERENT RULES PACKAGE CHANGE YOUR STRATEGY AS A DRIVER GOING INTO THIS RACE?
“We don’t look at the notebook as deeply as we typically would. We are dealing with a lot of new terms, new philosophies, how to get these cars to create speed, and drive well in the draft. It’s kind of the more philosophies from this year and not looking too far back into the 2018 notes.”
Team Chevy high-resolution racing photos are available for editorial use.

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