TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
APRIL 13, 2012
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S/KOBALT TOOLS CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Texas Motor Speedway and discussed getting the 200th win for Hendrick Motorsports, the new C-Post template, repaving tracks and much more. Full transcript.
TEXAS IS CERTAINLY A PLACE YOU’VE HAD SUCCESS, TALK ABOUT GETTING THAT FIRST VICTORY THIS SEASON. “This track has changed so much over the years. The asphalt is losing grip more and more. The bumps are getting a little bit bigger. I feel those raw, great qualities really make it a handling race, and the team that wins will have earned it out here this weekend. The schedule is a bit odd with when we are on track relative to when we race, so yesterday was a good opportunity to explore some new ideas. Today we’ll kind of settle in on our race set up and qualifying stuff, and go to work. Just looking forward to getting on the track. The winds that just came in are howling, so I don’t know how that is going to treat anybody that qualifies. I hope the wind dies down before we go to qualify. With a tail wind like that into turn three, it could be quite exciting.”
NASCAR SAYS THEY ARE ADDING A TEMPLATE FOR THE C-POST STARTING AT TALLADEGA, DO YOU FEEL LIKE THAT’S A GOOD THING THAT’S GOING TO TAKE AWAY ANY SORT OF QUESTIONS ABOUT THAT AREA OF THE CAR? “I wasn’t aware of that but happy to hear it. In some ways I’m very happy. I am very happy to hear there will not be gray area there, but it does take away opportunities to work on the race car. But that’s been a reality we’ve been faced with; especially crew chiefs have been faced with for quite some time now. I’m absolutely happy to hear there is going to be one there.”
IS THERE MUCH TALK AMONG THE DRIVERS AND/OR CREWS ABOUT GETTING RICK HENDRICK (WIN) NUMBER 200? HOW IMPORTANT TO YOU AS A DRIVER IS IT TO GIVE HIM 200? “We’re thinking about it all the time, and Rick reminds us all the time to get that out of the way. Man, we’ve been all around it, and have had a lot of shots at it this year. Unfortunately we’ve haven’t been able to pull it off. We had one through three locked up there at the end of Martinsville, and felt like that was the day for it to happen. Rick won his first race there. Two hundred there would be a great way to book-end all of that. That would have been a real special weekend but it just didn’t work out.”
IS IT SPECIAL FOR YOU TO BE THE GUY THAT WINS IT? “You are insinuating that I’m going to be that guy, and it will be awfully special. I hope to be that guy.”
THE PRACTICE SPEEDS AT MICHIGAN WERE VERY, VERY FAST. DO YOU FEEL LIKE THE CARS ARE STARTING TO GO TOO FAST AGAIN? “No, these cars are good and safe. And I wasn’t there so it’s really tough for me to say, and I haven’t had a chance to catch up with Jeff (Gordon). I expected faster. A top speed of 215 (mph) is not of the norm. We saw that at California maybe a few years back. At least around that. I don’t think that’s a big deal. I would have to imagine there is a ton of speed still left there. Anticipating the speeds, Goodyear I’m sure brought a very hard tire. I expected us to be 225 or something down the straightaways.”
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE CHANGING THE TRACK AT KANSAS AND ON GENERAL REPAVES? ARE YOU IN FAVOR, NOT IN FAVOR? “I understand why, and especially when tracks are kind of sliding down and their afraid it can come up during a race and cause a problem. I understand the need is there. I feel we’ve learned a lot with progressive banking, and we can really help race tracks spend some time creating a middle grove and an outside lane. I can also say that we’ve learned that there’s certain asphalt combinations now that are being put down that are going to last a long time, but they don’t work very well. I think the one at Charlotte (Motor Speedway) is finally coming around. I think the one at Phoenix (International Raceway) is going to take a long time before it comes around. I would advise if anybody is listening to not choose that blend. Let’s get to something that wears out. I’m sure it means repaves more often, but it’s going to provide a lot better racing.”
THIS IS THE FIRST TIME OBVIOUSLY IN A LONG TIME THAT YOU’VE NOT BEEN IN A SEASON DEFENDING A CHAMPIONSHIP. HAS IT CHANGED YOUR OUTLOOK, CHANGED YOUR APPROACH, AND DOES IT FEEL DIFFERENT TO YOU AT ALL THIS SEASON? “Not once I’m in the car and get to work. I thought I would only make the mistake at Daytona walking into the wrong transporter. I walked in here this weekend and my little route I’ve walked for the last five years, I walked right on by my transporter and walked up and looked at the No. 14 truck and was like ‘I did it again’. So, those moments continue to get me, and I guess it will happen all year long. I’m trying to use it as motivation to be back on top.”
AS A RESULT OF PRACTICING DURING THE DAY AND RACING AT NIGHT, HOW CLOSELY WILL YOU PAY ATTENTION TO THE NATIONWIDE SHOW TO GET ANY KIND OF GAGE OF WHAT THE CARS MAY DO? “Yeah, we will definitely pay attention to it. What’s tough for us is we went on the track yesterday and it was green. We ran our laps, and formed opinions in kind of a cooler setting at the end of the day. So, you built some stock into the temperature. But then we practiced again today, and there’s the Nationwide race. The grip level of the track is going to change so much. The track is more like the race during the middle of the day today, but the temperature is way off. So, we’re going to try to blend last night’s ideas and thoughts of what the temperature is going to do to the balance of the car with today’s track conditions, and take it from there. Long story short, we’re pretty confused. We’ll build some adjustability into the set up, and the first couple of pit stops I think you’ll see big changes from a lot of teams.”
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