MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
AAA 400 DRIVE FOR AUTISM
DOVER INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
MAY 4, 2018
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S FOR PROS CAMARO ZL1 met with media and discussed his past success at Dover, how his off-road background helped him learn the track quickly, the importance of Mother’s Day, and more. Full Transcript:
YOU’RE COMING INTO THE WEEKEND WITH A LITTLE BIT OF MOMENTUM. YOU’VE GOT THREE TOP 12’S IN YOUR LAST THREE STARTS AND THIS IS OBVIOUSLY ONE OF YOUR FAVORITE RACE TRACKS. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO COME INTO DOVER KNOWING YOU HAVE SOME MOMENTUM AND IT’S AN OPPORTUNITY RACE TRACK FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM?
“I can relax a little bit more coming to this race track. With it being my best track and the love I have for this place, I’m always excited to come, but trying to get the No. 48 car back into Victory Lane, I can take a little pressure of myself here knowing that the rhythm-style and the way you drive this track and the set-up for the car. We’ll get it close, and history shows that. Hopefully we get it perfect and we can have the day that we really want to have and get back to Victory Lane. But it does take a little pressure off me knowing that this is my best track and knowing that this is my favorite track.”
WITH MOTHER’S DAY BEING NEXT WEEKEND, WHAT’S YOUR FONDEST MOTHER’S DAY MEMORY? HOW HAS MOTHER’S DAY CHANGED FOR YOU WITH HAVING KIDS?
“It’s really tough to pick a memory. But I can say that in the Johnson household, my mom was really the one that gave me and my brothers our compassionate hearts and our understanding mindset. My dad is a very happy and fun guy, but there’s nothing like Mom. Mom is the one that’s kind of instilled that in all of her boys. And now watching my children and knowing the mother that they have in Chani, it’s just spectacular. And she is very kind and understanding, but at the same time I think her strongest form of motherhood is leading by example and showing our daughters about chasing her passions and her dreams. So I’ve been surrounded by strong women my whole life and I’m in a household full of women. We even have two female dogs (laughs). So, I’m covered-up with moms and potential moms.”
FOLLOWING YOUR TEAM, IT FEELS LIKE THERE’S A BIG TEMPTATION TO LOOK AT THIS TRACK AS A BIG MEASURING STICK FOR YOU GUYS BECAUSE IF YOU COME OUT AND DO YOUR USUAL THING HERE, IT’S LIKE OKAY, IT’S THE 48 TEAM STILL. BUT IF YOU’RE OFF, IT’S LIKE OH MY GOSH, SOUND THE ALARMS. WHAT’S WRONG WITH THESE GUYS? DO YOU BUY THAT AT ALL?
“I think I’m doomed, regardless, right now. I mean it doesn’t matter the track or the result unless it’s a win, and lots of wins. I think we have created an environment of very high expectations because of the success we’ve had and I think people forget how special our run has been and we certainly want to get back into those ways and have it happen again. But history shows it doesn’t happen very often. And we’re very fortunate to harness lightning for a long stretch of time. The encouraging news is we are making our cars better each and every week. I’m more of a realist in where we’re at and what we’re doing, and reflect back and think damn, we had it really good for a while and it was really special. But we’re a victim of our own success, and I hope to create the headlines that we want and the headlines being along the lines of well, they should have won. It was Dover.”
YOU HAVE HAD SO MANY WINS HERE. WHEN A DRIVER LIKE YOU LEARNS A TRACK LIKE THIS, HOW MUCH THE DRIVER AND HIS FEEL FOR THE TRACK VERSUS THE CAR AND THE SET-UP, WHICH YOU ALSO HAVE TO HAVE, AFFECTS THE WIN. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOU LEARNED TO GET THE FEEL HERE? DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL FEELING ABOUT YOUR CONNECTION WITH THIS TRACK FROM INSIDE THE CAR?
“In my mind, the feeling that you have at this track helps direct the team and lead the team to the set-up that you need. You can’t do it without the car. That’s just the bottom line. Having a good car is important. I’ve been very fortunate to have that at Hendrick Motorsports over my career. And, I just fell into a rhythm at this track that I could help steer the team and find that extra tenth of a second that’s separated us from others. A few guys have really dialed-in on the feeling here and have been consistently strong, which is no surprise. Guys like Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick, they’ve really shown some strength here. So, it’s nice to know you’re at a track that has a certain feeling. Chances are this place isn’t going to be resurfaced. So, it can last. And that feeling you look for lasts. I think Bristol was like that before the repave. It’s changed so much here lately; it’s hard to dial-in on that. I think concrete tracks do give you that advantage that the feeling the driver looks for can last a long period of time.”
AND DID IT TAKE YOU A LONG TIME TO GET THAT? DO YOU REMEMBER WHEN YOU FIRST CAME HERE?
“I showed up here in an ASA car and made a lap and was in love. And I came in and looked around at my competitors and I remember Gary St. Amant looking at me and his eyes were like pancakes. And he was like we shouldn’t be here. This is too fast. This is crazy. Jumping into the turns and jumping off the turns. We shouldn’t be here. And I’m like dude, I’m in heaven. This is awesome. So, since my first laps here in an ASA car, I fell in love with it.”
IF YOU’RE BEING A REALIST, WHO IS MORE POISED TO WIN ON SUNDAY, YOU OR CHASE ELLIOTT, WHO HAS FOUR STRAIGHT TOP 5’S HERE AND STILL LOOKING FOR HIS FIRST WIN?
“Yeah, that’s a good one. He came so close in the fall. I just watched the race. I don’t know, that’s a good one. But, I know who I want it to be. Chase is a great guy and Lydia’s favorite driver but, it’s time for dad to win (laughs).”
YOU TALKED ABOUT JUMPING INTO THE CURVES AND GETTING AIRBORNE, WHAT EXACTLY DOES THAT MEAN? YOU SAID YOUR OFF-ROAD EXPERIENCE COMES INTO PLAY. HOW DOES THAT COMPARE WITH GUYS WHO HAVEN’T HAD THAT EXPERIENCE?
“From an off-road perspective, you realize how you can use the throttle to point the car as you’re getting light and airborne. You can use the throttle in different ways to change the arc and the line and also the way the car lands in the turn. You can make it a very abrupt landing or a soft landing, all by the inputs you give the vehicle. The upbringing I had on the dirt and driving those vehicles, it was just kind of second nature. And of all the tracks we run on, this one has that element to it. When I look at Kyle Busch and his growing success at this track and competitiveness, it doesn’t surprise me. He has dirt cars and plays in the dunes and is from the West Coast area and the desert out in Vegas. It doesn’t mean it has to happen that way, but I think that’s what helped me identify with how to drive this track early in my career. The throttle controls the vehicle here, unlike any other track; especially on corner entry.”
WHAT’S BEEN THE SINGLE BIGGEST FACTOR IN YOUR LONG DROUGHT?
“We just haven’t had the cars where we need them. And, I’m a part of that process. So, I’m not pointing fingers. I think as a group from everybody at Chevrolet and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports and everybody on the No. 48 car and my other three teammates and their teams, we collectively need to do a better job. And we’re working hard on it and we are doing a better job. We’re seeing those rewards slowly coming along. I think we have been the benchmark or that high watermark for so many years, that other manufacturers and teams invested a couple of years in figuring out how to beat us. And we’re living through that right now. We’re needing to recreate ourselves and how we go about handling business. And a lot of that change has happened and I think it’ll just take a little bit longer before it really starts providing for us.”
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