NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500
Topics: Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500
August 3, 2008
LONG POND, PENNSYLVANIA
KERRY THARP: We're joined now by the third-place finisher in today's race, Jimmie Johnson. He's also going to be joined on the podium with the runner-up in today's race, Tony Stewart.
We'll start with Tony first. Your thoughts about your performance out there today. You had a strong car, finished up high.
TONY STEWART: Yeah, really happy with the way it ended up obviously. I mean, for us that's a win. I know for Jimmie it's probably a miserable day running third. For us running second is like a win. I told him when I got up here, I almost forgot how to do these post race interviews.
Seemed like our car was an 8th- to 10th-place car the majority of the day. We got that red flag. I don't know what everybody else -- I'm interested to hear what Jimmie says about it. I think the track tightened up a lot during the red. Seemed like our car got better from that point on. We were too lose up to that point.
After the red, it seemed like our car came into it a lot more. The longer we went there, finally got running with the guys that ran up front all day.
That's a great feeling to be doing that again. When you get in a slump like we've been in this year, when you have had nine years of success, it's easy to take it for granted. Days like today remind you how much you appreciate having a good day.
KERRY THARP: Jimmie, your thoughts about finishing third out there today? I know you wanted the win, but a good afternoon.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Solid afternoon. Very happy with the performance we had all day long. Led laps, ran up front. Great, strong performance. Great stops. I was just happy to see at the end it didn't come down to some crazy strategy with the rain and tires and fuel and all that stuff. We were able to go race for that thing.
Just a great day all in all.
KERRY THARP: We'll take questions for either Tony or Jimmie.
Q. Jimmie, were you out of gas at the end of the race? Coast across the finish?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: I did. We pitted a lap later, so we thought maybe the 20 and 99 might have trouble or something, if we didn't run out going through three. I had a real hard time getting by the 66.
I think the car was a little bit tighter. I'm really shocked we ran out of the gas. Thought we had a lap. Ended up almost a corner short.
Q. Tony, were you impressed with Scott Riggs? He was almost to a top five today. Got the car back in the top 35. When he ran out of gas, he was helping the crew push the car back. He thinks he's not going to be there next year. Showed a lot of character.
TONY STEWART: I think he did a great job today. When Jimmie and I were racing, we were racing for position in the last 30 laps of the race, I was really, really proud of what him and those guys have done.
We got a lot of evaluating to do over there right now. That's the hard part. You know that there's going to be some good people that may have to go and some people that are going to be able to stay. That's the hard thing about this, is trying to figure out exactly what's right thing to do is. And it's not. It's easy to let the emotions get caught up in making those decisions. But you have to go off -- you got to sit down as a group and evaluate it together, make the right decisions.
That's a difficult part of what we're doing right now. It's a hard part because you know that there are people that you know, that you have relationships with.
I had to let one of my best friends go when I let Danny Lasoski go from our World of Outlaws team. It wasn't something at all that was fun or easy or that you like doing. The whole organization you have to think of.
But I'm really proud of those guys today. I'm proud of what Tony Raines did in the car. Had a great qualifying run this weekend. I think both of those teams did a great job.
Still worried about what I'm doing with my car, too. I'm happy with what we did today. That gives us a lot of momentum going into Watkins Glen where we've had a lot of good runs in the past.
Q. Momentum going into Watkins Glen, you both are streak racers. We're coming into the Chase. Talk about the significance of getting some momentum this time of year with the playoff round coming up.
TONY STEWART: Scares a lot of people when I streak through my neighborhood (laughter). You love to get on streaks. That's where a lot of the bigfoot sightings have come from in the past eight years.
I don't know that really that's a big deal when it comes to going to Watkins Glen. I think it's one of those places that there's I think a handful of guys, or 10 guys, 12 guys that really like going to the Glen and like going to Sonoma and look forward to those races. Then there's probably half the field that, you know, can take it or leave it. Then there's a quarter of the field that would be fine if we didn't go.
I think it's just a totally different situation going into the Glen. I think as soon as you get out of the Glen, that's when you want to be on that hot streak. It never hurts winning races, and if you win at the Glen, that's just that much more momentum the next week.
But I think this is kind of the last - I don't know how to describe it. Just seems like it's one of those races. I wouldn't say it's a huge momentum builder with what happens at Watkins Glen. It's kind of a special event on its own, it seems like.
Q. I know you aren't racing any harder today than you were last week or the week before. Can you sense on the track, is there an intensity that is maybe picking up with counting down closer to the Chase?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, I think so. I mean, every point counts all season long. But I certainly see guys racing harder than maybe at earlier points in the season. A lot of things come together. You have people looking for points. You have people fighting for their jobs. You have guys that have had a good six, seven months pissing each other off. It all comes to a head, too. It all kind of comes together.
I think going into the Chase, you're going to see a lot of heated moments. I think Richmond is going to be a barn burner when we get there. It's really going to be an intense one.
Q. Carl, when he finished, said that he and Bob really had an argument about whether to pit there when the rain came. Was it as difficult a decision for you guys? He said they argued about it.
TONY STEWART: You know, in our situation, our spotter, from the top of the grandstands you can see a lot more obviously than Zippy can from pit box, more than I can see from sometimes in the car. A lot of times the spotters can see the wave of rain going across the ground. I think that was the situation where at least our guy thought it may rain, but it wasn't going to last, that they were going to get going again.
I think we thought backwards from the end of the race and thought if we pit, we're going to give up some track position trying to set ourselves up for a position, make one more pit stop once we go back green.
Q. Was it important for NASCAR and Goodyear to rebound from last Sunday with the tire situation? How was the tire situation?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: You know, it's an odd set of circumstances. From my side, we knew we'd come here and not have any problems. It's just what took place at Indy. Up until Saturday, probably midway through the first practice, Indy was still Indy. Tires doing its normal stuff. Once we started getting into that first practice at Indy, we knew there was a problem. It was just too late to adjust, get things sorted out.
I think we all feel confident. We might have tires that could do a better job from week to week, but I don't think there's a track on the circuit that we'll see this type of problem again.
Q. Jimmie, red flag, what did that do as far as your pit strategy, deciding whether to pit then or not?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: We really felt like we were going finish up the race under green. We saw on the radar, it showed there were some cells popping up, but it wasn't a front moving through that was going to wash us out. So we just stuck to that plan.
We got a little nervous at a couple different points, but fortunately we were able to race to the end today.
Q. It seemed like all you guys were sort of -- they had a group of front, you had a group in the back. Seemed like you had to pick which group you wanted to watch. Right there about 50 laps to go, Carl's car seemed to come to life and take off. Was that the track changing? Carl passed you and was gone. Do you think his car got better?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: I would get loose as the run would go on. I was a little bit better than Carl on new tires. I could get away from him a second or two. Probably eight laps, somewhere in there, I'd start losing my drive-off. And Carl's car stayed rock solid. He'd come by, get by me, take off.
KERRY THARP: Guys, good performance out there this afternoon. We'll see you at Watkins Glen.
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