2012 NSCS Finger Lakes 355 Q&A with Team Chevy Driver Jimmie JohnsonPress Release
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CORTEZ SILVER CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Watkins Glen International and discussed Jeff Gordon making the Chase, how he has improved his road course racing skills and other topics.
TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR SEASON THUS FAR AND GETTING CLOSER TO THE CHASE:
“I’m real happy with the way things have gone here in the last three or four months. We have had a lot of speed and a lot of great results. We have been to victory lane at the Brickyard and certainly in position at Pocono for that. I’m disappointed that we left some bonus points on the table at Pocono, but the circumstances I had on that last restart, not much I can really do about that. I’m pretty thankful to have finished 14th the way things unfolded there. I’m looking forward to this race this weekend. I really feel like we’ve got a chance to run in the top three and if things go right have a chance to win. I love road course racing, happy to be here, but I’m really excited to get back on the ovals and try to get some more bonus points before the Chase starts.”
HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO RACE AT THIS TRACK AT THE HIGH SPEEDS YOU ARE GOING?
“It is a very fast, the fastest; we only have two, but the fastest road course we run on. It’s considerably faster through all the turns than what we have at Sonoma. The faster you go the more the car is dependent upon aero and we will consciously make decisions on an aero stand point here more than we would at Sonoma. This track is tough. I think there is a lot of time to be made through the esses and up on the long back straightaway. When you are right through there you are on the throttle a long time burning a lot of fuel. The tough thing here is the way the mileage works out and our fuel burn. You are right on the edge of if you get good fuel mileage, have some cautions fall for you, you can go one less stop than everyone else. I have yet to have that happen. I just use the throttle too much, drive the car with the throttle a lot and usually have to make that extra stop. I feel like that’s hurt us at the end of the day be in position to win. We still get good finishes, but to win I wish I could, we could, wherever the fault lies get better fuel mileage. I have been consistent I just don’t get good fuel mileage. It doesn’t matter if it’s here or an oval wherever it is it’s not my strong suit.”
DO YOU FEEL THE SPEED HERE?
“You do, you absolutely do and the speed before each braking zone is really high. Turn one is a downhill braking zone with a wavy surface that lights up the wheel hop that we have going into the corners. I call it turn 10, turn 10 is exciting. You have got a long straightaway just in between gear selections coming into that corner and a hard braking area to the left. Speed is high for sure.”
WHY HAS HENDRICK BEEN SO DOMINANT LATELY? DO YOU ALL SHARE INFORMATION OR IT’S JUST A GREAT THING YOU ALL HAVE GOT GOING?
“We definitely share information. I feel like over the off season we really aggressively went after our set-up’s on our car and made some changes company wide. I think a big difference in things was the addition of Kenny Francis and Kasey Kahne. They brought in new ideas, new ways to think of things and with our group working together we have been able to really perfect that and make the cars stronger. I’ve got to give Steve Letarte and Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. a lot of credit for some areas that they’ve improved and have brought speed to the table on. We have just been packaging it all together and refining things. I think it’s really at a good time that all four teams are peaking because the Chase is nearby and we are really honing in on what we need for our race cars. Hopefully, it’s a great chase for Hendrick Motorsports and even a better Chase for my team.”
IN OTHER SPORTS WHEN TEAMS DO VERY WELL DURING THE REGULAR SEASON AND ARE INCHING TOWARDS THE PLAYOFFS THERE SEEMS TO BE A DEBATE WHETHER THEY SHOULD REST PLAYERS AND GIVE PEOPLE TIME OFF. WHY DOESN’T THAT PHILOSOPHY IN RATCHETING BACK A BIT WORK IN NASCAR RACING?
“I think in other sports there more worried about an injury than anything else. We certainly run that risk with our over-the-wall guys, but from a drivers stand point it’s just not the same environment. There is more to be had in a rhythm and with momentum that a team has than anything. I remember seeing a few instances where teams that rested players lost that rhythm and maybe lost a little mojo as a result. You’ve just got to weigh your risk factors. In other sports the injury factor is really high. We are fortunate to not have that.”
WHAT DID YOUR TEAM GLEAN FROM THE TIRE TEST AT MICHIGAN AND WHAT DO YOU THINK WE CAN EXPECT AT BRISTOL?
“I haven’t been briefed on the Michigan tire test and what went on there. I’m not really sure what to expect. I know we are going to be going fast going back. Bristol, nobody really knows what is going to happen. From what I’ve heard the top groove there has been a strong attempt to take that away from us to where we will fight for the bottom. We will kind of see where it goes from there. I don’t think it will have a big impact on qualifying, but once we get in the race and that top lane how good it’s been. We will see if it is gone. Once rubber goes down, it depends on how the track takes the rubber. Really the correlation between the tire and the concrete, we’ve seen some grinding surfaces never take rubber. Kentucky (Speedway) is kind of like that, once you get above the third lane, the grooves that are up there will not take rubber and that is why we only go so high. I remember Martinsville (Speedway) a long time ago, they, I think ground the bottom. Once the rubber took to it, it made it real sticky and it worked great to run the bottom. We just need to get on track and see, but it will be interesting the whole process of figuring it out.”
WITH THE WIN AT POCONO HOW MUCH DO YOU THINK THE PERCEPTION OF JEFF (GORDON) CHANGED IN THE GARAGE AS A LEGITIMATE CHAMPIONSHIP CONTENDER?
“I feel the garage area knows how strong the No. 24 has been. Without a win wasn’t in a Wild Card situation, so I think Chase related the garage is much more concerned about him and they should be. He’s a great driver, great team and they are plenty capable of winning the championship. Until he had the win I don’t think people paid a lot of attention to it. Momentum seemed to be against him in a lot of ways that maybe people weren’t paying attention, but now they will. You cannot count that No. 24 out. From a team stand point I really want all four (Hendrick Motorsport) cars in the Chase, hopefully, battling all four cars for the championship.”
YOU STRUGGLED EARLY ON IN YOUR CAREER WITH ROAD COURSES, WHEN DID YOU FINALLY START GETTING IT AT ROAD COURSE RACES? IS THERE ANYTHING YOU CAN PASS ALONG TO DALE (EARNHARDT) JR. TO HELP HIM SINCE HE’S YOUR TEAMMATE?
“For me it was really frustrating to struggle on road courses getting started. My background was kind of road course racing, the off-road trucks and buggies and stuff that I raced wasn’t on an oval ever. That part really troubled me, but learning the vehicle and understanding the vehicle was key. That just came with experience. Something that was helpful for me was to run in the Grand-Am Series and to actually go faster than what we do in a Cup car. That’s something that has worked for me my whole life. When I was a kid racing dirt bikes, we had the class that I would ride in and my dad always had a bigger bike for me to ride. I would just practice on it, I wouldn’t race, but I would feel the power, I would understand the weight and see things at a faster speed. So, when I went back to my bike things slowed down and I was in control and more comfortable. I give a fair amount of credit to the Grand-Am Series and running with (Bob) Stallings and also Bill Riley and the time I spent running his car and also the Crawford car, the three teams I drove with. It just helped me progress. They have different tools to work on the race car with, but still the process is searching for speed and grip was helpful for me. It’s a little bit different than an oval that and reps in the Cup car, it’s all about seat time.”
IF JEFF GORDON MAKES THE CHASE HOW DOES THE DYNAMIC OF THE CHASE CHANGE IF AT ALL?
“I’m not sure. When I was thinking about the Chase when the season started I had the No. 24 in there and I guess that’s where my mind has been. I haven’t paid too close attention to who is in and who is out. I guess deep down inside I’ve always expected the No. 24 to be in the Chase so it hasn’t changed anything for me.”
WHEN THE CHASE STARTS IF YOU’VE GOT ALL FOUR HENDRICK GUYS IN THE CHASE WHEN DO YOU STOP TRADING INFORMATION AND START GETTING CUT THROAT ABOUT THE WHOLE THING?
“That is a question I’m glad you asked because I know there is always people thinking that communication stops. It doesn’t. It can’t. At Hendrick Motorsports the way it’s set up the information is always there. It can’t stop. Every outing report that every team makes goes into a database and it’s there. Maybe drivers don’t talk as much as they have, but all the information is in the database. All of the information sharing is there and it’s been that way since I’ve been at Hendrick Motorsports.”
SO YOUR JUST THAT MUCH BETTER THAN THE OTHER GUYS BECAUSE YOU WON FIVE CHAMPIONSHIPS?
“You said that, so I’ll take it (laughs).”
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Source: Team Chevy Press Release
Article Tags: 2012 FInger Lakes 355 at The Glen, 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, 2012 NNS, 2012 NSCS, Chevrolet Impala SS, Chevy, Chevy Impala SS, Finger Lakes (NY), Finger Lakes 355 at The Glen, Hendrick Motorsports, Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR, NASCAR Nationwide Series, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NSCS, Team Chevy, Team Lowe's Racing, The Glen, Watkins Glen (NY), WGI