MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
GANDER OUTDOORS 400
DOVER INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
OCTOBER 5, 2018
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S FOR PROS CAMARO ZL1, met with members of the media at Dover International Speedway and discussed last weekend’s race at the Charlotte Roval, the importance of wins, his thoughts on the 2019 Cup Series rules package and many other topics. Full Transcript:
TAKE US THROUGH LAST WEEKEND AND WHAT YOU WENT FOR AND WHY YOU WENT FOR IT AND YOUR MENTALITY HEADING INTO THIS WEEKEND:
“Yeah, I mean, obviously, a great weekend for the Lowe’s team. Qualified well, had good pace in the race, spent the first portion of the race just worried about stage points and trying to collect those knowing how important every single point would be. And then, there was a fuel mileage portion of the race where points were very much on my mind and worrying about fuel mileage and just getting to the finish. I had news about us being in a good spot. It was such a moving target too the way people would run on track and what we needed out of us, what our points advantage was seemed to change pretty quick at times. The final restart I definitely was more focused on the win than points. As I look back over my decision into that final set of turns and even watch the video, my thought process was to be inside of him (Martin Truex, Jr.) going into that corner and to have his spotter saying ‘inside’. He, as it turns out, was trying to protect that move and drifted up in the middle of NASCAR (turns) 3 and 4 and so I had my opportunity on the inside and again, my whole goal, and I had thought about it for weeks was to try to have the spotter say that I was on one side or the other. Because it really effects your angle out of the chicane there and I would have a shot at the win.
“So, I set all that up and all that went great until I made a mistake on the brakes and unfortunately it costs me a lot. There was one point in time there if the No. 96 car could have got running it wouldn’t have cost me the ultimate of advancing and moving on. And then also, sadly, in the process of me getting control of the car I did lose control and eventually collected Martin (Truex, Jr.). So, it wasn’t a bonsai move just trying to clean him out. It was a very calculated move and if we both hit the brakes at the same point in time and unfortunately, I got it wrong. There were many consequences to follow after that. Disappointed, it’s way easier after the fact is over to say well why didn’t you and how come and all that kind of crap, but I was focused on winning a race and that is what got me there.”
IF THERE WAS ANY QUESTION ABOUT YOU GOING FOR THE WIN OR PROTECTING YOUR POINT’S POSITION YOU JUST HAD TO LISTEN TO THE RADIO CALL WHEN CHAD KNAUS SAID ‘GO GET HIS ASS’ RIGHT?
“He did say that as I took the white flag. We were in a pretty strong advantage at that point, so I felt like if I made a mistake I could have recovered. I didn’t think I would fall back that far for one and the other thing is, my move, I planned on it being in control and calculated and us both finishing. It wasn’t drive in there, clean him out, hopefully I win. That was not the move at all. So, unfortunately, I just missed it on my part a little bit and got the brakes locked up and around I went.”
WOULD YOU CHANGE A THING?
“I still have to make that move. I still have to try for it. I would have made a small brake bias adjustment and I think I would have modulated the brakes a little bit different into the corner. Looking back, I was a little lower than I typically was entering that braking zone and had a bit more steering wheel input in the car and that is why the left-front (tire) initially locked up. So, I would change a couple of things, but I still, I don’t know how I don’t go for it. And again, it wasn’t this desperate move to try to pass him in that braking zone. My intent was to be alongside of him, one side or the other because I felt like it would have tripped him up enough to where I had a real shot on the exit of the corner to the start/finish line.”
AT THIS POINT ARE YOU ABOUT THE WINS EVEN BEFORE THE PLAYOFFS BECAUSE REALLY, YOU’VE GOT TO WIN TO WIN THIS CHAMPIONSHIP ANY WAY. RIGHT NOW, FOR THE NO. 48 IF YOU ARE IN OR OUT, BOTTOM LINE IT’S ABOUT WINNING, WOULD THAT BE A FAIR ASSESSMENT?
“Yeah, now it’s absolutely shifted even harder that way. Myself and many sit up here or on the front stretch doing interviews saying it’s all about the win and I think last weekend really showed that it’s really all about the win.”
HAVE YOU HAD FUN THIS WEEK? HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO LAUGH THIS WEEK? OR ARE YOU NOT OVER IT?
“I have thought about it a lot and what I would do differently. I just like to learn from my mistakes. I do feel bad for my team and the fact that we didn’t advance and how much we put in that. But, countless text messages, phone calls, walking through the shop, they’ve all supported my decision to race for the win and have a lot of pride in that. The other piece that weighs on me and I don’t know if it would for all drivers, but I feel bad for Martin (Truex, Jr.) and that No. 78 team. I hate that my mistake affected them and could impact their season to some degree. So, I don’t like that aspect to it, but it is racing and I know in my heart that it was a legitimate attempt at winning the race and a mistake was made. I didn’t go in there and just try to move him out of the way and wreck him and create all this havoc. So, I’ve moved on and did have a good week, but there are a couple of things that still linger and that always seems to go away when you get in the race car and start the next practice session.”
DOES TALLADEGA CHANGE FOR YOU NOW THAT YOU ARE NOT IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP PICTURE?
“Yeah, I mean it takes it off for sure. The ultimate concern for points is much less. I still have fifth position in the points technically that I can move up to and every position is meaningful to me and to the team and sponsors. So, we will be smart, but this gives us a chance to really be aggressive and look for wins. We will see if we can take advantage of it at Talladega. With stage points, I think it’s been some of the most action-packed plate racing we have had in a long time. I don’t know if my aggression will be able to guarantee a win by any means because everybody out there is really aggressive.”
ON THE RULES PACKAGE, IS THERE A POTENTIAL WHERE WE GET TO THE POINT WHERE THERE IS TOO MUCH DOWNFORCE ON THE RACE CARS?
“I’ve driven a lot of cars over the years, a lot of generations of cars. We’ve had in some opinions it’s too much and in other’s it’s not enough. I don’t know what next year will look like, ultimately. That’s something we’re all going to have to learn together as a group. I think there’s been a couple of great races that have shown that package puts on a great show. And I think we’d be naive to think that it’s just going to be awesome everywhere, but there’s a big attempt being made to improve the quality of racing and I support making our sport stronger. That’s where I stand on it. At the end of the day, they’re still passing out a trophy and I like trophies. So, we’ll make whatever work.”
AS ONE OF THE VETERAN DRIVERS, HOW MUCH INPUT DID YOU HAVE, SPECIFICALLY, WITH NASCAR THROUGH THE DRIVERS COUNCIL TO PUT THAT TOGETHER FOR 2019?
“Not only am I on the Drivers Council, I’m also on a rules meeting council. Our voices have been heard as drivers and I do not envy the position NASCAR is in. They have the drivers to listen to, the owners, the competition committees, the track owner/operators, and television. And they are left with a very difficult decision to balance all of the asks that are made, and make the best decision; and then at the end of the day, be judged by the fans by it. So, I don’t envy their position. But I do appreciate their commitment to making our sport the best competitive racing around. So, we’ll just live and learn together and if everybody puts their best foot forward, I think we’re going to have a very competitive year next year.”
AFTER YOUR MOVE GOING FOR THE WIN TO END THAT STREAK LAST WEEK, THERE IS A TRAIN OF THOUGHT COMING IN HERE TO DOVER, THAT YOU’RE GOING TO GET THAT WIN THIS WEEKEND. HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT WHAT THAT WOULD MEAN COMING ON THE HEELS OF WHAT HAPPENED LAST WEEKEND?
“it was nice to be up there mixing it up with the guys. I haven’t been in that position in a while. I think that road course gave us a unique opportunity to find something new from a set-up standpoint. The No. 9 car (Chase Elliott) won at The Glen, so I think our road course program has been pretty strong and there was an opportunity for me there. From my standpoint, my desire to win has never been stronger. And, I’m happy that last weekend people were able to see that. But, when I’ve been criticized about my commitment and desire while I’ve been running 20th, this is the same fire that’s been there. And I think it’s unfair to be judged by the performance on track. It’s a collective group that puts the car in that position to win. We’re at my favorite race track and absolutely, do I want to win the race. And, I’ll do everything in my power to win the race. But it takes a collective group to have the car, the pit stops, the strategy, and all that. And, I don’t know if this weekend is that weekend. But, if there’s a track where I can make up a tenth or two for the team, this would be one of them. And, I hope I can do that and make the difference.”
GIVEN THE FACT THAT YOU WERE SLIDING BACKWARDS WHEN YOU CUT THE CHICANE, DID YOU CONSIDER NOT STOPPING?
“I did. If you look at the video, I was in first gear going and I think I would have been fourth the way gaps worked out with the leaders coming through. Chad (Knaus, crew chief) is the one that reminded me that we needed to stop. At the time I felt like oh yeah, that’s right, I’m supposed to do that. And then we went, and then I realized we were knocked out, I started questioning. I would rather the tower make that call. Knowing the outcome, I would rather the tower make that call and knock us out than anything. But, we made the right move. And again, if the No. 96 (Jeffrey Earnhardt) gets rolling and crosses the finish line, we’re in. So, it was just a wild series of events at the end of that thing.”
THE ROVAL WAS A UNIQUE AND INTERESTING RACE BUT WAS IT GOOD FOR IT TO BE AN ELIMINATION RACE CONSIDERING ALL THAT WAS AT STAKE?
“The ratings were up considerably. So was the attendance. I think it’s a good move. And, I got eliminated (laughter).
HOW DID THE CASINO PUT YOUR ODDS 10-TO-1 WHEN YOU ARE AN 11-TIME WINNER HERE? AND, THEY SPELLED YOUR NAME WRONG.
“I’ve been called way worse (laughs). I can remember my first die cast car, when it came; on the box it had my name spelled with a ‘y’. I was so excited when that case showed up at my house. And, I opened up the case and my name was spelled wrong. I was like, you’ve got to be kidding me. Really? So, I’ve been dealing with it my whole life and it is part of it and it’s fine. As far as the bets go, I’ve never paid attention to it. But, if I can make somebody some money this weekend, I hope I can.”
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