Tag:Jimmie Johnson
Posted on: April 17, 2011 8:17 pm

Johnson, Knaus post Talladega comments

Posted by Pete Pistone

Let's roll into our race winner for today's 42nd Aaron's 499 here at Talladega Super Speedway.  And our race winner Jimmie Johnson.  He drivers the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports and is joined up front by crew chief, Chad Knaus.

As I mentioned earlier, the margin of victory of the margin of victory of .002 seconds ties the closest margin of victory since the history of electronic scoring previous .002 was in Darlington, 2003, and the 88 lead changes ties the all-time series record.

This is Jimmie Johnson's 54th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory, his first in 2011, his second here at Talladega.  Jimmie, talk about the closing laps and when you were making your way up through the pack and that last part of the race where you got to the lead.

JIMMIE JOHNSON:  Yeah, we had a plan coming into the race, and stuck to it and learned a lot as the event went on, really Junior and I did, on how we would communicate, on what runs we could make, how we could set them up, how we could pass, how to have the guy push and could cool his car.  Really there was a lot of learning that went on through all of the laps throughout the race.

Once we got to the end, Junior started getting warm and had to pull out a couple of times with three or four to go and at one of the points we got disconnected, and a bunch of guys went buy.  But we stayed committed to the top and had our momentum wound back up and somehow trucked by a bunch of guys on the bottom.  I don't know if they had to switch lanes or what, but before we knew it, we found ourselves in third after we took the white and a decent gap from us to the leaders.

And they got side-by-side, which allowed us to really close up and as we went into turn three, I had a big run, and was thinking about the bottom, and the 5 and 24 defended that, and then I kind of wandered to the middle and didn't have an option then and knew I still had probably a mile to go.

So I just chilled out and sat in their draft and as we came off of four, those two groups were occupied trying to side-draft each other and racing each other at the top, covered up.  As we started rolling up on them, I shot down to the bottom, and we were able to surge by out of the triangle (ph) coming out of the bottom because they kind of left it open there.  Just worked out.

So very, very proud of the effort Hendrick Motorsports has put in as always.  I think it showed in qualifying and here are our four cars fighting for the win at the end.

So very proud of that; Chad and Stevie, and the growth of the 48/88 shop, and the way Junior and I worked together today.  So very proud of the effort.

KERRY THARP:  Chad, talk about the performance of the 48 crew.

CHAD KNAUS:  I thought it was a really good day.  To hit on what Jimmie was talking about, it was much more than just the 48 car that was able to pull off this victory.  We worked really hard.  We have a collective group of guys at Hendrick Motorsports that work on our Super Speedway program and they do a fantastic job of putting a very good product out there.  And I think that started to show signs on Friday.  Definitely started to show shines in Daytona when we were able to qualify with the 88 car on the pole and bring some of that momentum back here for qualifying at Talladega.

You know, we have been working a while to try to get to where we could get the drivers to really commit to one another and work together, and I think it was really nice to see the 5 and 24 work together the way they did today.  I thought it was nice to see the 48 and 88 work together.  It made it a lot easier on Steve Letarte and myself to call the race when you have that kind of strategy going on.

I think it was a good race for Jimmie and Dale to get a lot of experience work together and learning how the draft works and hopefully we can apply some of that to the race when we come back here in the fall.  So it was a very collective effort on a lot of people's parts and it was really nice to see.

Q.  In watching the replay, it appears that your left wheels had come across the yellow line; were you concerned at all that NASCAR was going to call that on you?

JIMMIE JOHNSON:  Someone mentioned that to me outside, and my eye line was on the 5 and the 24, because they were coming down the track trying to protect the inside lane.  I have not seen the video yet, and I was not focused on where that yellow line was.  I was more worried about causing a big pile up and luckily the 5 quit coming down and then the 24 pulled back up.

So I don't know where my left side tires were, but I've heard that a statement has been released and everything is cool.  So I'm glad I'm not sitting here having to worry about that.

Q.  You kind of answered this but a follow up to the question about the yellow line.  Were you surprised the 24 and 33 didn't crowd you so that it became an issue possibly that you were near the yellow line?

JIMMIE JOHNSON:  You know, the way it's working with the tandem situation, the spotter calls you in a way that like if I'm inside the 5, the 24 thinks that a car is in the side of him.  So in some ways I guess Jeff could have come all the way to the bottom and blocked me and it may have worked out for him.

You know, as soon as he heard I was inside the 5, I could see the 24 pull back up, and maintain his line with the 5 connected to his bumper.  So, I don't know.  There's still so much going on at the end of that thing coming to the stripe, I haven't seen it yet, either, like I mentioned and I don't know what anybody could have done differently.  When you're four-wide across a start/finish line, I think that's a pretty damn good race.

Q.  You pulled up and gave Dale Jr. the checkered flag at the end, class move on that.  Can you tell us the exchange and why you did that?

JIMMIE JOHNSON:  Just came to mind.  I handed it to him and he said, "Man, I don't want that. "

I said, "Well, I have to give you something for the push and working with me."

He said, "No, that's what teammates do."

I smiled and I said, "Take the damn flag.  I'll give you the trophy, too."

He says, "No, I don't want the trophy.  I'll take the flag, though."

Man, he's a riot.  You guys scan all the time but to hear him on the channel and Stevie and the things he talks about -- can I have this channel more often just to listen?


JIMMIE JOHNSON:  I mean there's some entertaining stuff going on.  On a serious note, he was committed, and as was I, and it showed today.  We were -- neither one of us were selfish and we worked as a group.  And at the end, he felt like the 48 car leading was faster; we agreed.

Looking back, it could have gone either way if we were single file and he was in the catbird's seat and could have pulled a move like the 29 did to the 1 that we saw in the in the fall or spring -- spring, at some point; but the way the race unfolded, the leader had the spot, and he pushed me to victory.  So just proud of the effort and hope to do more and continue to work like this it as time goes on.

Q.  How far back in the race did you decide that you were going to be the one that was leading and that Junior was going to be the one that was pushing?

JIMMIE JOHNSON:  We kind of traded responsibilities off so that we could each learn and get a feel, just know -- we didn't know what would unfold at the end, and after the last pit stop I was pushing him for while and we were getting disconnected pretty easily.  And at that point, he just said, hey, you need to lead, it works better with you leading and Chad and Stevie confirmed that our lap times were faster with the 48 in front of the 88 and we made a swap going into turn one and just kind of stayed that way from there on out.

Q.  Was it fairly evident to you as you crossed the finish line that you had won or was there some mystery left?

JIMMIE JOHNSON:  There some mystery.  I didn't hear anything on the radio and the first voice I heard as we went into turn one was Junior and it was something like, "Hell, I think the 48 won."  

And then I started going nuts.  Chad didn't know what radio to talk to me on, and I didn't know whether I had won or not, so I was going to stay in the throttle until I heard different.  But he was the one that broke the news to me.  But it was close.  I knew in my mind that if it that was the checkered, it was close, and I didn't know if I had it won.

Q.  At one point Jimmie waited in his box for Junior to come out; how much against the grain is it for you guys to do that and what were you thinking at that point?

CHAD KNAUS:  It's tough.  It's tough.  You know, you have to change your mentality when you come to a track like this, and I think we have done as a team a good job of changing the mentality of how you run a racing organization at Hendrick Motorsports and being committed to the team and the betterment of the organization.

We had to carry that to the Nth detail today to make that happen.  If you saw how we were working on the car, we were taking four tires; so was the 88.  We had damage, the 88 hung out and made sure their stuff was right; and they took two tires, we took two tires and vice versa.

It's different.  It's different.  Usually you're going for the win every single one, but today we wanted to get one of those cars in victory lane.

Q.  The last lap, the two different tandems came up and side drafted each other and stalled them out; is that how you saw it and it also looks like watching the videotape, you talk about being high, you make a very big moving to down two lanes.  I'm guessing you normally wouldn't do that, or how dramatic of a move was that, and were you able to give any warning to Dale Junior or he just has to follow you in a situation like that?

JIMMIE JOHNSON:  Yeah, I was on the radio with him going down the back, and just trying to explain what I saw in front.  We had a good run coming into three, and I talked him down to the bottom, and then the 24 and 5 defended that.

And so then I thought I could get up to the middle and was telling him on the radio, and the 29 and the 33 had that kind of covered where there wasn't a move.

So I just stayed in the middle of the track and those two side-by-side, those four cars side-by-side punched such a big hole in the air that I kind of let off the gas a little, let Junior really to me and create some energy and as we came off four, worked my way back to wide open, we were rolling.

From my perspective, they were up there worried about each other side drafting and really stalling each other out, and I had such a run, I was talking to Junior, I was like, low, low, low, and off we went.  We got down there and the 5 and 24 were trying to defend it, but we just had a little too much speed coming, and we were able to get by them.

Q.  For you, you and Junior obviously worked really well today but there was a point at Talladega like six years ago where he was pretty upset with the way you used to draft.  Was there a moment when you guys sort of like learned to work well together and sort of change your style and became to the point where you guys could work so well to go today?

JIMMIE JOHNSON:  Yeah, in plate racing, you go out there -- before we could push all the way around the track, we would kind of bump on the straights and different things.  I'm learned, coming up through the ranks, learning at the Cup level, made some mistakes.  Certainly caused some big wrecks here at this track.  That's where one of those comments came from.

As you race and as time goes on, watch the best guys in the business make mistakes and cause big wrecks and watch guys that don't have a lot of experience make wrecks; they end up causing wrecks.

So there's really nothing consistent about it.  You're mad at the time and you leave the track and you go on and next time you come back to a plate race, you're mad at someone else and a whole new group of people.  You see it week-in and week-out with the interviews after plate races.  There's a lot of blame floating around, a lot of guys mad when they are wrecked.  That's what it was, and I'm glad that I haven't been the root cause of anything major lately.

Although, I've been in a ton of wrecks.  Seems like each plate race, especially Daytona we are in wrecks and we did that again this year.  So I have climbed out of the car upset at plenty of guys, as well, just part of the game.

Q.  I heard you say on the radio you told Dale, "Next one is on us, brother."  Do you approach the rest of the season differently and try to turn it around and try to help Stevie and Dale Jr?

CHAD KNAUS:  I think we take the exact same approach and see how it shakes out the end.  You have to be aware as to which situation is faster, and definitely today, we would have been pushing the 88 car if Dale had not come on the radio and said, high, guys I don't think we are fast enough the way we are right now, we need the 48 in front.  If we get to Daytona and the roles are reversed that will be it, we will follow him across the line with sparks and fire ablazing.


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Posted on: April 17, 2011 5:54 pm
Edited on: April 17, 2011 6:04 pm
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Posted on: April 5, 2011 12:48 pm
Edited on: April 5, 2011 8:18 pm

Idle Thoughts: make pit road speeds public

By Pete Pistone

Drivers complaining about being caught for speeding on pit road is certainly not a new phenomenon.

But it does get a little more attention when the guy who has won the last five Sprint Cup championships is involved.

Like it or not, Jimmie Johnson making an issue about being caught for pit road speeding is a bigger deal than when anyone else challenges the subject. As the reigning champ five years running Johnson has earned a voice in the NASCAR garage that deserves to be listened to.

NASCAR is not unlike other sports where veterans and athletes who have accomplished more than others get the benefit of the doubt and the ear of officials.

Ask any NBA rookie about how it feels to get hammered driving to the hoop only to watch a referee swallow his whistle. However that same play with a Kobe Bryant or Dwight Howard involved most likely has a completely different outcome simply because of the veteran stars being involved.

Young pitchers nibbling around home plate won’t get nearly as many called strikes as a veteran hurler who hits the same spots.

That’s the lay of the land in pro sports and NASCAR is no different.

So Johnson’s adamant stance about not exceeding the accepted speeds in place Sunday at Martinsville Speedway carries a little more weight than just any old driver swearing they were within the limits.

However after originally calling out the sanctioning body for being wrong after Sunday’s race when the penalty levied took Johnson from any kind of contention to win, the five-time champion softened his stance a couple of days later.

“I wasn’t speeding,” Johnson said.” They didn’t like how it looked – the way I managed my timing lines. There is just no way. People will say whatever, but with the math and the way we know our timing lines, there is just no way.”

Johnson now says there was a mix-up in his mind of just where he was pegged for speeding in one of the designated timing zones NASCAR’s uses to measure pit road speeds.

To avoid the mix-up Johnson believes NASCAR could simply publish or broadcast the numbers for all to see in real time fashion, simplifying the process in his mind.

"It would be very easy to broadcast that signal – just like they do for timing and scoring – for all the teams to see," Johnson said. "At that point, when it's coming up live time, there's no arguing it. In the black-and-white world we live in now, we're all looking for that transparency. If I were them, I would believe it would be a smart move to make, just to eliminate this (controversy).

"If we have that data instantly, I think it would, one, be cool for the fans to have that information to digest and, two, it would eliminate people like myself on Sunday (feeling) so strong about what took place, making comments and in a way, probably harming our sport and the credibility of our sport."

I completely believe Johnson was over the line and his speeding penalty was warranted.

But Johnson is still absolutely correct.

While I’m not making allegations in any way that NASCAR somehow manipulates these times or challenging the integrity of the sport, why not eliminate any doubt by making this information public?

From a fan’s perspective it’s another way to raise the sport’s credibility by making this process transparent. No cloak and dagger, no behind the curtain conferences, no hiccups in the execution. Post the number and if it exceeds what’s been established as the limit bang – penalty assessed.

In this age of technology there’s no doubt in my mind this can be done. And in this age of fans salivating for every piece of information and data they can get their hands on, the move would be a total win-win for NASCAR.

I love watching a baseball game and knowing the pitch count of the guy on the mound. Or following rebounds and assists in real time during a basketball game. Numbers enhance any sport’s enjoyment factor and in NASCAR’s case it would cement home it’s credibility at the same time.

There’s an argument that by broadcasting these speeds it provides an unfair advantage to other teams and disrupts competitiveness. I don’t buy that from a sanctioning body that has always preached about an open garage. Or one that allows teams to openly “eaves drop” on other team’s radio communications via scanner.

NASCAR has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years by opening itself up to fans and allowing the sport to grow simply by providing more access. It’s time the next step is taken and the mystery of pit road speeding to disappear.


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Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: April 5, 2011 11:21 am
Edited on: April 5, 2011 11:22 am

Johnson apologizes to NASCAR

By Pete Pistone

Jimmie Johnson had some strong words for NASCAR after Sunday's pit road speeding violation knocked him from contention to win the Goody's Fast Relief 500. But two days later, Johnson reversed course a bit and apologized to the sanctioning body.

“The fact of the matter is we were wrong,’’ Johnson said during a media teleconference on Tuesday. “I was misinformed and referring to a segment that I knew I could not get busted in, I thought that’s where we were busted, but at the end of the day that wasn’t the segment we got in trouble on.”

Johnson did stand by his opinion that NASCAR making pit road speeds public would enhance the sport particularly for fans.

“I’ve made this point before and still think it’s a very valid point that if the pit road segment times were broadcast live for everyone to review it would eliminate this finger pointing. At the end of the day, it’s probably not good for me to climb out of the car and call NASCAR’s credibility into judgment and I apologize to NASCAR for that. When you’re only dealing with part of the information and you’re in the heat of the moment it’s easy to react.”

Johnson was penalized for exceeding the pit road speed of 30 mph Sunday. With the five mile per hour tolerance NASCAR builds into the speed allowed, Johnson was pegged at 35.53 mph during a critical late race pit stop and assessed the penalty that in effect took him out of contention for the win.

While Johnson stands by his view of making the information more public he felt he was still out of line if his remarks put NASCAR’s credibility in question.

As for a possible fine from the sanctioning body, Johnson said “If I’ve got to pay a fine, I’ll pay it. I feel like I’m entitled to my opinion, right or wrong. I guess I was right on the area I was talking about but wrong in the scheme of things. If I said something that I’ve got to pay a fine, I’ll pay it. It is what it is. I just hope they put my money to good use.’’


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Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: April 3, 2011 10:27 am
Edited on: April 3, 2011 10:27 am

Video of the Day: Johnson's keys to Martinsville

Posted by Pete Pistone

When you've had the success at a particular track like Jimmie Johnson has enjoyed at Martinsville Speedway people tend to listen when you speak. So here's the six time Martinsville winner's assessment of getting around the .526-mile Virginia short track:

Posted on: March 27, 2011 9:09 pm

Johnson, Busch post Fontana comments

Posted by Pete Pistone

At this time we welcome into the media room Kyle Busch.  Kyle, you finished third in today's race.  You currently sit fourth in points, 11 points behind Carl Edwards.  Take us through the last few laps.

KYLE BUSCH:  Yeah, I mean, today was a really, really good race for us anyways.  We had a really good racecar.  Can't thank the guys enough, everybody at Joe Gibbs Racing, chassis shop, bodies, it was a whole effort this weekend, especially the team guys this weekend, being able to prepare the backup car and get it out on the racetrack in time to get some qualifying laps and in enough time to have a good racecar yesterday in practice and then again today.

Just real, real unfortunate and frustrating and disappointing all in one that we weren't able to seal the deal today.  Just come down to the last few laps there with Jimmie first and then Kevin got into it, too, with us.

You ask a little bit more from your racecar at the last moments, it doesn't have anything left to give.  You're essentially a sitting duck waiting for those guys to drive by you.  Couldn't get any more out of the car.  That was it.  It would push, get loose, that was all we had.

THE MODERATOR:  At this time we're joined by Jimmie Johnson.  Jimmie finished second in today's race and currently sits fifth in points, 14 behind Carl Edwards.

Jimmie, talk us through the last few laps of today's race.

JIMMIE JOHNSON:  For me, we worked hard all day long to get our car to handle well.  We made some smart adjustments when we were deep in the pack.  But getting track position really was everything.  Once we had track position, got near the top five, the car didn't necessarily drive a ton better, but we had a lot more speed and had a shot to win.

Good day.  Wish that we could have won the race.  But I was really loose, as well, knew that the two tires were coming with the 29 car.  Looking back, maybe if I could have got by Kyle a lap earlier, it would have made the difference.  But he was rolling on the top really, really fast.

Hate that we finished second.

Q.  Kyle, it was hard to tell on TV, did you actually get back up into the wall?

KYLE BUSCH:  No, I never got in the wall till the last lap coming off of four.  Figured I had nothing else better to do.  Knocked the right side off the car.  The guys had to fix it.

No, I knew I was too far behind.  Shouldn't have been trying.  But that's me.  Never give up.

Q.  Jimmie, on that last lap going into three, Harvick was right up on your bumper, gave you a push.  How did that impact things?

JIMMIE JOHNSON:  Him being that close and kind of breaking the plane of our bumper, certainly affects how my car drove.  When he to my bumper down the back, I felt like if he turned into the bottom and followed me, I was in trouble.  I kind of wanted to run the bottom coming to the checkered flag.  Felt like that was the place to be.

I decided to stay at the top.  When I went off into three with the extra speed, had my car kind of sideways getting in there, I couldn't get a real good arc into the corner.  I heard that he was looking outside near the middle of the corner.  Once he got there and broke the plane of my bumper, spotter said, Outside, I was dead in the water.

Q.  By getting on your back bumper, he dictated how you were going to go into that corner?

JIMMIE JOHNSON:  Just because of the speed and the push that he gave me, where he gave me, I would have gone into the corner and missed the bottom, gone into there with too much speed.  Him being close certainly affected my car.  He did exactly what he needed to.

I was on the loose side.  If I was in his shoes, I would have done the same thing.  The closer you can get to the car in front of you when they're loose, the harder it is for that guy to use the power.  You have a good shot to pass them.

Q.  Kyle, how close did you feel you had this locked up?

KYLE BUSCH:  It's never over till it's over.  That's why it's called racing.  That's why you have to wait till the checkered flag to see what happens.  For all the fans that went home early when I was leading, with 20 to go, they missed a good finish, an exciting finish, with those two guys being able to battle it out on the last lap.

Yeah, it's disappointing, frustrating, kind of a letdown a little bit with the guys.  They worked awfully hard today.  We had such a great racecar.  I thought we had a really good shot at it.  If the race would have went green, we had a better long-run car than a short-run car, I felt like.  Just wasn't meant to be.

Q.  Do you feel like the last caution hurt you?

KYLE BUSCH:  Certainly, certainly.  Certainly the last two did, definitely.  Just bunching the field back up, getting everybody closer to us.  We got some adjustments on that one pit stop.  Kind of helped our car.  That last one really hurt, getting everybody back to us, especially those guys that pitted that got two tires and came through.  I don't know if Harvick did or not.  We're still debating on that.

You were kind of a sitting duck.  It was just a matter of time before they got there.  You were hoping you could hold them off at least eight laps, nine laps, however many we had left green.

Q.  Jimmie, were you expecting that bump on your bumper at the end or did that take you by surprise?

JIMMIE JOHNSON:  No.  Coming off of two, I ran a lower line than he did.  He was up around the top of the wall.  I had assumed he would get to me down the back at some point.  I could see he wasn't favoring towards the bottom.  So I knew something was coming.  I knew if I was in his shoes, I would be right on the guy's bumper getting in the turn.  He gave me a little shove.  It worked out well for him.  Like I said earlier, it took away my option to use the bottom.

As close as he was, it just had me on the top of the track, to the center of the corner, and worked out for him.

Q.  How much did yesterday's finish factor into everybody kind of staying out on that last caution?

KYLE BUSCH:  I think today Tony earlier in the race actually dictated more than what yesterday had.  Tony stayed out there.  I think they made a mistake, had a miscue on the radio.  He stayed out with eight laps on his tires earlier in the race.  We all pitted.  He hung right with me that run.  That whole run he was on my rear bumper like six car lengths away.  I think that dictated a lot of it.  We only had nine laps to go.  All you had to do was try to fight off the guys behind you for nine laps.

It seems that whenever we get in that position, it hurts us a little bit.  We'd rather be the ones chasing rather than being the chaser.

Q.  Jimmie, Earl was telling you when Harvick was on your bumper that he was on your bumper.  When he was pounding you like that, how hard is too hard to pound somebody on a two-mile track?  You expect that at Bristol.  You said you would have done the same thing in his position.  Was it all fair on the last lap?

JIMMIE JOHNSON:  Oh, yeah, without a doubt.  I don't think he got into me all that hard.  I actually put my head back against the headrest and thought it was going to be a lot harder than what it was.

He did it well.  He did his job.  I didn't do my mine holding him off.  That was racing.  That's the cool thing about our cars, especially the way they're designed now.  You can lean on each other at 190 and still make it back.

Q.  Do you know what the mistake was that he made last year that you were able to hold him off?

JIMMIE JOHNSON:  Last year, he had the same line working really well.  That last lane up by the fence, I just don't have it up there for whatever reason.  He was catching me up there last year and got into the wall and slowed himself down, hurt his car and slowed himself down.  This year he got it done.

I think he was smarter from it and kind of knew how to run that line better.  I think he was up there most of the day as well.  He had a good rhythm going for the top.

I just didn't have much luck up there.  I was already a lane higher than I normally run coming into the checkered trying to protect the top some.  I thought I closed off the outside, but he still found a way to get up a lane higher.

Q.  Kyle, were you worried at all once you saw what happened with Denny?  Can you talk about your thoughts about what's going on at Joe Gibbs.

KYLE BUSCH:  When Denny had his problems, I wasn't sure what it was.  I never really got a full communication of what happened.  I wasn't too worried.  If something happens, it happens.  If it doesn't, it doesn't.  You kind of play it like that.  Really that's all there is to it.

It's unfortunate obviously.  It's a big blow I'm sure to the organization, what we're doing with the engine shop and everything.  It's not that you'll find something and maybe get it fixed in a week.  But we certainly wish we would have been able to get it done by now.  I know Mark is doing the best he can.  The Toyota guys at TDR trying to figure out what's going on.  Mine made it fine today.  Joey's made it fine I think today, as far as I know, right?  They changed engine, but they made it all day today.  You can start in the back and make your way through sometimes.

We'll work on it.  That's all I can say.  I really don't know what happened.

Q.  Kyle, the engine situation.  To be on the safe side, will your team also look now at your engine to make everything is fine for the next race? 

KYLE BUSCH:  Our engines always go back to the shop, get torn down and looked at.  Mine will too.  We'll see how mine looked after today's race.  I never had any issues.

I imagine everything on mine will look okay.  I never heard a pitch change or heard anything different than crisp all day.  I don't imagine anything's wrong with mine.

Q.  Did the shorter race make any difference with strategy?

JIMMIE JOHNSON:  It seemed like a 500-mile race to me today, I don't know about you (smiling). 

KYLE BUSCH:   No. I wish it was a 300-mile race, to be honest.

JIMMIE JOHNSON:  I wish it was 399 (smiling).

KYLE BUSCH:  I didn't notice any difference, to be honest with you.  I felt like an extra 50 laps wouldn't have changed a whole lot.  It would have definitely changed the pit strategy at the end.  We would have came down and got tires instead of staying out because there were only a few laps to go.  There would have been about 40 to go.  We all would have been short on gas anyway.  There would have been another pit stop after that pit stop.

I think the length was fine.

Q.  Jimmie, any particular reason why you chose the lower line going into that final corner?

JIMMIE JOHNSON:  That was pretty high for me.  The higher I went today, my car just got up out of the track and really wouldn't handle well.  I needed to run a lower line, kind of let the lateral forces hold the car down, make the car turn

The higher I went, kind of the g-forces come out of the car when you roll up out of the top.  My car would never turn.  Once it would finally start turning, it would snap loose.  Just didn't work well.

Looking back, I mean, I wish I could have -- I should have maybe tried to stop my car getting into three and ran in the middle like I had been all day long.  I tried to go up a lane higher than I was on the previous lap, tried to protect the top, but Kevin still found a way by.

Just didn't have enough to hold him off.

Q.  Jimmie, a day like this where you're kind of scrambling around making adjustments, end up being second, is that the type of finish ends up winning championships?

JIMMIE JOHNSON:  At the end of the year, it does definitely.  Right now it's about wins.  We all want wins.  We want max points, also bonus points, things like that.  Today was all about a win.

I mean, there is the flipside.  When Kevin was alongside of me off of four, I could have maybe tried to squeeze the door, do something a little stupid there.  I'm like, If I spin out here and finish 15th because I'm down on the grass, can't get the car fired up, it would just be stupid.

KYLE BUSCH:  What the hell, damn it.

JIMMIE JOHNSON:  That's what happens at 35 and 10 years in the sport.

What did you do off the four?

KYLE BUSCH:  I got in the wall.  I told you I was bored (smiling).

JIMMIE JOHNSON:  You weigh those things out.  Within reason today it was all about running the race, especially when we got to the front.  We ran around in 10th to 15th for most of the day.  Then got in the top five, stabilized, had a stop or two to make our car better.  From there had a chance to race for the win.

All in all a good day.  It's like kissing your sister, running second - and I don't have a sister (smiling).

Q.  Jimmie, you were on a show called Breaking In on FOX this weekend.  Explain what you would rather do in life, act or race cars?

JIMMIE JOHNSON:  I prefer my job.  No offense.

Q.  Do you think actors are pansies?

THE MODERATOR:  Okay, next question.

Q.  Jimmie, coming out of Bristol you had expressed concern for Hendrick Motorsports' two-mile program as a whole and said this race wouldn't be easy on the Hendrick organization as whole.  How do you feel now?

JIMMIE JOHNSON:  We're getting there.  I mean, my teammates, I'm not sure where they finished.  I ran with them most of the day in the teens.  We still have work to do as a group.

At Vegas we started really bad and improved the car during the race.  Today we started fair and made the car better.  We're going the right way and we're finishing the weekends probably where we should start when we get here.

We're getting there.  It's just going to take a little while to get that stuff sorted out.  I'm excited about our short track stuff.  Hopefully we'll get this big track stuff under control.

Q.  What did you think about the crowd today?

KYLE BUSCH:  Not bad.  They took some banners away in turn one.  They needed room for something.

JIMMIE JOHNSON:  Actually, I thought it looked okay.  We always want a full grandstand.  After a couple years, especially if we come back and the weather is like it's supposed to be, we'll probably have a better showing.

But I thought today was decent for sure.

KYLE BUSCH:  If the race was Wednesday, it would be really good.  Supposed to be 80.  That probably scared off a few of them.  Judging the crowd off of previous California events, I thought it was really good today.


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Posted on: March 27, 2011 10:43 am

Video of the Day: Johnson wins at Fontana

Posted by Pete Pistone

California native Jimmie Johnson scored his first career Sprint Cup Series win at his home track Auto Club Speedway. He has five career wins at the track including this trip to victory lane in 2009:

Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: March 26, 2011 11:30 am
Edited on: March 26, 2011 11:31 am

Video of the Day: Herbie rides at Fontana

Posted by Pete Pistone

Auto Club Speedway has been the site of many video, commercial, television and movie productions. "Herbie the Love Bug: Fully Loaded," the film that brought back Disney's iconic racing VW Bug with Lindsay Lohan no less as the movie's star, was shot at the Southern California track and included a drive by scene with Hendrick drivers Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson:

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