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NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Samsung 500

Stock Car Racing Topics:  Samsung 500

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Samsung 500

Jimmie Johnson
April 6, 2008


THE MODERATOR: Now we are joined by the 48, Jimmie Johnson, tell us about your run.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Real proud of all the effort that's gone into our intermediate track program really showed today and it was pretty eventful. Ran up front, led a little bit and I think clean air was really, really important.
And I was really shocked today in how bad the cars drove in traffic. In the past, our stuff had bigger bumps and I was really fortunate to catch people and the guy in front of you -- I really think the cars should not be so aero-dependent. They are safer and doing a lot of things the right way, but they really need to look at making changes so that the cars have a little more downforce; so when you get into low downforce situations, there's more grip on the car.

Q. The restarts -- (no microphone).
JIMMIE JOHNSON: On the restart, I was with him. I felt like, gosh, maybe try the outside through one and two, but with all -- going down through the cautions before, I knew that was a bad decision, and got away from me a little bit and just kind of ran from there on out. Once you get up to speed, the car just depends on the aerodynamics.

Q. I know you're not the engineer, just the driver, but what sort of things are you thinking -- and if you have more downforce, doesn't that effect -- doesn't that make them more dependent
JIMMIE JOHNSON: No, I think we were just -- it's never going to change. Need to make the cars not so aero-dependent, and it's going to help the guys go back in traffic. And we've always had aero problems -- (inaudible) -- is a great thing, but I'd love to see NASCAR talk to some team engineers and their guys get together and say, all right, what's the logical step that's not going to cost millions and millions of dollars to get more front downforce in the car so you didn't get so tight in traffic, because we went rear drift from time to time with the aero balance and you can adjust the wing balance there, but the cars need more front downforce.

Q. We noticed prior to the final restart, you were staying down there as long as you could; fuel concerns?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Not really. I just didn't want to take a chance. We had plenty of gas, but the way those pickups are and the way the cable drive system works, Denny Hamlin in Bristol had plenty of gas in the tank with the restart, and there was air in the line, and we had -- I guess in Charlotte, changed last year and we've seen it happen a few times. So being that close to the front, I wouldn't take any chances making sure that we had plenty of gas.

Q. One thing, when people hear the drivers talk about the car, they say, well, you know, it's in their hands a little bit more now; that's one argument that keeps coming up. Is that the case, or is that just something that is a nice way of saying these cars are so difficult so handle that they are too hard to drive?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: The cars are more important now than in set up than before. This is on the bigger tracks. On the shorter tracks, the aero at Bristol, Martinsville, but the bigger tracks, you can't hide the aero deficiencies the car has, and that's just how it is.
I guess you can turn it back on yourself. Did you enjoy the race today? That's the ultimate judge of it. We are all afraid to run side-by-side, you can only get so close to the guy in front of and you we just sit there in the same spot and ride because you can't go anywhere.

Q. Yesterday in the Nationwide race there was a noticeable lack of side-by-side racing, and Clint Bowyer described the day as boring; would that term be applied to today's race from your perspective?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: No, I didn't see yesterday's race. Today's race, I didn't see a lot of side-by-side racing, and the test lap cars we stuck behind them and watched the other race.
It didn't seem like there was a lot of side-by-side. I'm not sure what the overall race looked like

Q. A little bit off the beaten path but Jeff obviously struggled today, said he was frustrated, but one thing he said, he took a little heart from the fact that you went through the same thing in Vegas and were able to come back, can you just talk about the process you went through after that?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: We really just spent a lot of time testing and we had to -- so confusing with this car because with the bump stops and other tools that we had to work with the car, you're not really sure where you need to be setup-wise, and what to do with what; and in time we'll get better with it and I think we have made some gains.
If you look at what we did from Vegas to Atlanta, we made huge gains. We tested a lot and picked up another step. So we are going right way, but I'm still a little nervous
So watching the 24 being so strong as he is had a start the season, now he's falling off and had a bad day; so you're only an adjustment or two away from being junk with this car.
And that's the hard thing to sort out and where we were frustrated and so we decided to go to the track and start over, no pressure, no pressure of the race weekend, no one around and just re-baseline, work on the car, let me feel things, let Chad understand what adjustments are working and just a matter of working through it and it worked well for us.

Q. (No microphone).
JIMMIE JOHNSON: They have worked very hard to get some advantages with the car, so I think they are whole package right now is really strong.
I had the chance to follow them a lot today and look at him and watch his car; and he's certainly lacking grip from time to time, and I can see his car get tight. I can see it getting soft at turns and just in general, his car was a little more efficient through the corner than mine. So I think we are just a step off in grip, overall grip, where we were eight or ten steps off before, so we closed up a lot. I think another couple weeks will really be a factor in the mile-and-a-half.

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