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Feb 13, 2014
Thursday
2014 Daytona Speedweeks NASCAR Media Day Q&A with Driver Jimmie Johnson
Press Release

NSCS Driver Jimmie Johnson - Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
NSCS Driver Jimmie Johnson - Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at the 2014 NASCAR Daytona Media Day and discussed: changes in qualifying procedures; outlook for the season; changes in the Chase; racing at Daytona and other topics.

Q.        REGARDING RICHARD PETTY COMMENT 

JIMMIE JOHNSON:  I just caught wind of that, so I’m not so prepared.

Q.        HOW CLOSE DO YOU FEEL LIKE DANICA IS TO WINNING A RACE AND HER CAPABILITIES?

JIMMIE JOHNSON:  I think her most immediate opportunity to win would be plate-wise.  What she’s shown down here, especially in the 500, look at what she did in Indy, she had a really good chance of winning there at the 500 once or twice, and last year was in a great position through the course of the race.

I’d say plate racing is probably the first opportunity for her.  It’s just going to take time to sort out of the other areas.  We have the ability to see open-wheel drivers coming to NASCAR.  Outside of Tony, we haven’t seen

I’m still interested in watching, if whatever happened, a (indiscernible) car guy going that direction.  You need at least five years over here to figure out what’s going on, understand these cars, be competitive.

Regardless if it’s Danica, a male driver, whoever it is, you really need five years to kind of get yourself where you need to be in this sport and find those last few 10ths.  It’s one thing to get within a couple seconds, but the last few 10ths are the hardest thing to find.

Q.        INAUDIBLE

JIMMIE JOHNSON:  It’s experience.  When you come off the truck, you have to know the line you’re going to run, where your braking points are, your turn-in, on throttle, the fuel you’re looking for.  You need all those things because if you don’t and you need an hour of the two-hour practice session to find your way, you just lost an hour to the fuel, you lost an hour to the 48, to Tony, to the 24, guys that unload that way.  That is the hardest part.

I can remember my Nationwide days, at the end of the Nationwide race, I was like, Man, if I came back now, I would be so much better.  I just didn’t have the repetition and the time.  That’s a big part of succeeding in NASCAR.

I think for most open-wheel drivers, they don’t get a five-year window to figure it out.  I was telling this to Travis Pastrana, to Ricky Carmichael, guys from other disciplines that come in, you need five years.

Go run ARCA for two or three years, go run Trucks, but you get to Nationwide and on, you get one year.  If you’re lucky, you get two or three.  Most people get a year and then move on.  It’s a tough industry to come into.

Q.        INAUDIBLE

JIMMIE JOHNSON:  I had no clue what they saw.  My fifth year ever in a stock car was in the 48 at Hendrick Motorsports.  Man, I was still busy knocking down a lot of walls, trying to figure out where to be, what to do.  I didn’t even know where the gas pumps were at all the racetracks.  It was a running joke among the 48 team whether we were coming in, Jimmie, turn in here on pit road, the gas pumps are over here.  I didn’t even know where to put gas in the car.

Q.        DOES THE (INAUDIBLE) FEEL DIFFERENT TO YOU THIS YEAR?

JIMMIE JOHNSON:  No, not yet.  It’s been out of mind for sure.  That could be due to the addition to the household.  It’s very busy at home with two.  So many parents with more than one kid tell me how much busier it was going to be.  I’m like, Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.  It’s far busier than having one.

There’s some of that, and the other part is I haven’t been in that mental space yet racing or competing.  I think as the year goes on and if we are to make the Chase and get down to the race at Homestead, that’s when it will be top of mind.  Right now it’s so far away, such a process to get there, I haven’t put much thought into it.

Q.        ANY TROUBLE GETTING DOWN HERE?

JIMMIE JOHNSON:  No, we got out this morning.  We were smart, repositioned our plane to Charlotte-Douglas.  The trip from the hangar to the runway was exciting.  They hadn’t plowed any of that.  I thought I was in an off-road truck for a while trying to get out to the runway.

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