NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Chevy Rock & Roll 400
Topics: Chevy Rock & Roll 400
September 7, 2008
KERRY THARP: We are now pleased to be joined by Jimmie Johnson, congratulations, our race winner today. This is his fourth victory in 2008, and of course Jimmie is the back-to-back NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and he comes into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup as the 3-seed.
Jimmie, congratulations, and obviously it looks like you're starting to get your game on at the right time.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: We are. You know, very, very happy with the performance today. Great, great fight throughout the entire day.
Momentum is certainly something we are looking at and trying to carry, but more than anything, I think we are just confident in our stops and what I'm doing on the track, and the way we can adjust on the car.
We even showed up here a bit off in practice on Friday and worked throughout the practice and got it right. So very, very proud of the effort.
Q. I'm going to push this same issue a little bit more; even though you're 40 points behind the leader in the seeding, you've got the momentum with two wins in a row, and with that momentum, does that make you the pre-Chase favorite, and do you feel like the pre-Chase favorite as it stands right now?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: I'm trying to show up at next week's race scared, worried about 11 other guys, and worry about doing my part. And the thing, like I said a minute ago, is I have confidence in what my abilities are and what my team is capable of and the packages we have put together in the last five or six months, short track, big track, all of it.
So you know, there's a lot of cars, and when you re -- rack this thing with ten to go and you look at Roush and the 88 and the 24 got in, RCR has got some good cars; you just never know what's going to happen. So I want to show up next week worried about all 11 of them and just do my job.
KERRY THARP: We are also joined by our No. 1 seed, Kyle Busch. Kyle, you certainly took advantage of those wins this year. Your thoughts starting out as the top seed.
KYLE BUSCH: It's a lot better to be at the top than it is down at the bottom. That makes it look a lot prettier from our seat. Just to go out there and run consistently in the final ten races and race these other 42 guys that are in the racetrack with us and yet still keep track or try to out-race the other 11 that we are trying to beat out for the championship here.
We know it's going to be a tough race and it's not going to be easy, and we have the 48 and 99 most to worry about and anybody that could hit on stride. The 88 was really good at the beginning and you never know what Gordon will do and Kenseth; all of these guys are capable of something.
Q. Kyle, you walked in as someone was asking Jimmie if he's the favorite and you said, yes; sarcasm, or do you truly believe that?
KYLE BUSCH: I was just being sarcastic. I was answering the question for him. They have been strong. If I was in Jimmie's spot, I'd say, heck, yeah. We feel like the 99, with the races that are coming up, you know, I believe there's like five mile-and-a-half tracks in the finals, and you know, we know that the Hendrick guys are always tough at the Martinsville track and Phoenix and the Toyotas seem to run well at the restrictor plate tracks. But anything can happen with five mile-and-a-halves with the way the 48 and 99 have run this year, it's going to be hard to beat those guys there.
KYLE BUSCH: All I know is I wasn't able to spin off the wall as best I could and wasn't able to achieve that. Hard racing and leading the race and unfortunately things happened that way. We had a great M&M's Toyota today so the most disappointing part is that we were not able to show what we had there at the end of the race and race for a win with Tony and Jimmie up there towards the front and being able to try to get in another ten bonus points.
Q. Do you think that was revenge?
KYLE BUSCH: Was that revenge? Who knows.
Q. In the post-race radio, Jimmie, it was pretty obvious that Tony Stewart and his pit crew were a bit at odds over your beating him out. This was also evident because of Tony's unwillingness to discuss it further; just wonder if you would be willing to acknowledge that your pit crew had a lot to do with your winning?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: I'm not sure I have a clue what you asked me.
Q. How was the last pit stop, Jimmie?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Pit stop or on the track?
Q. How crucial to holding him off was getting out of the pit --
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Gotcha. It was everything. Track position, regardless of where we go, is important. And I could -- if he got to me, but I could kind of run the top and keep him pinned down on the bottom and let him beat up his tires.
So at the end, track position was a big part of it.
Q. Kyle, were you aware that Junior was back there in the quarter panel and before the race did you discuss the possibility that this might happen?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, I knew he was back there. I knew he was on my quarter panel, but you know, I tried to make sure that I was leaving enough room down there. So if there was a chance for a mistake, that he had enough room to gather it back up, but unfortunately there wasn't enough room there and we got together, and, no, there was no discussion of that before the race.
Q. Jimmie, for this to be a race that the only thing that mattered was ten bonus points, you and Tony kind of got after this there at the end. Was that fun? Obviously that's the kind of stuff that the fans will go home talking about. Ten laps, with two guys that have won championships going side-by-side; that's pretty good.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: I loved it. Earlier in the race, Tony and I raced really hard for the lead, as well. It was nice today to be able to race and not worry about the points. I'm sure Tony was really focused on a victory, and I can't remember what his situation was coming in points-wise, but I had a blast all day long. A lot of hard racing for every position. At the end. That's how you want to win a race. You want to win a race going against the best in the business, and Tony is certainly one of those guys, racing your butt off, side-by-side --
(Break in audio/visual Web feed)
JIMMIE JOHNSON: But you just don't know. From my standpoint, you don't have a clue until five or six in what that average target is going to be. You get through the first five and do all that you can and you kind of look around and say, all right, this is what we need to do, and then you go for it from there.
KYLE BUSCH: I'm on the same page as Jimmie. He's been there before and knows about being up front in these past would championships and being able to capitalize it and win it.
For me, I've been in the Chase these past two seasons and had to come-from-behind a little bit. Fortunately this year we start in a better position and hopefully come out of the box strong on the first few tracks and after that regroup and we look and see what we have to improve on in the final seven or eight races and see what we have to work on in order to get a little bit better.
But overall I think it's going to come down to the wins if you can get some and the Top-5s, of course and on the bad days, everybody says you have one or two mulligans, which it's hard to say, but would you rather not have to use those up but whatever comes back the best with some of those is going to be the key, too.
Q. You alluded in victory lane that you can make history and get three championships; what do you think about that and what would that mean to you? And Carl earlier intimated that Nick Lachey took his shirt off to distract you --
JIMMIE JOHNSON: He came up to us afterwards, he and some of his buddies in the infield and took us a second to figure out who it was. Both of us were scarred and didn't know what to think and ended up being one of my friends that came to watch the race.
Now I forgot about the first question.
Oh, I do think about it, but it's been -- Homestead is so far away and it's been so far away. We've had a lot of work to do as a race team to catch these guys.
So now it's becoming more of a reality. Still, the less I can think about it, the better I'm going to be. The less I can think about all of the stuff that's coming up in the next ten races, the better I'm going to be, and just fall back into the confidence that I have in my race team and my abilities and the confidence that we are bringing to the track and give 100%. If you show up and you're swinging for the fence every time, you're going to make mistakes. With the way the pack is running, especially the 99 and the 18, you can't show up and run at 80 percent and just hope that a Top-10 is going to get the job done. You have to show up and bring your A Game each week.
I feel confident that we are there, now and that we can run with these guys.
KERRY THARP: Okay, guys, congratulations.
|Connect with The Crittenden Automotive Library|