MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
O’REILLY AUTO PARTS 500
TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
APRIL 7, 2017
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Texas Motor Speedway and discussed the newly repaved and reconfigured Texas Motor Speedway, slowing the cars down for better racing and many other topics. Full Transcript:
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE IT IN YOU TO CONQUER TEXAS THIS WEEKEND WITH THE NEW TRACK SURFACE AND NEW CONFIGURATION?
“I have it in me, but I think it’s a clean sheet of paper. You can’t pick a favorite right now. Anytime there is a reconfiguration, a new asphalt it’s a total game changer. All of past history is now out the window and it’s like we are coming here for the first time.”
HAVE YOU SEEN DATA FROM THE BIOMETRIC DEVICES OF OTHER DRIVERS? HAVE YOU GOTTEN ANY ACTUAL DATA THAT SHOWS THAT YOUR FITNESS LEVEL HELPS YOU?
“The biometric stuff that we have it’s very limiting in what it tells you. I think more than anything when I look at it and the only time I see it is if somebody posts it to Twitter or whatever and I can see it there. We all have different max heartrates and that doesn’t give you any indication of their fitness level we just all have a different heartrate zone that we work in. So, I see some people have a much higher heartrate than myself, mine is lower that is just the way I am. Your fitness level is more representative by how quickly you recover and how low your resting heartrate is. It’s very difficult to see on there where that is. If you are able to sit on a bike and be given a set amount of watts or some kind of baseline effort and then judge heartrate on it would be easier to understand how you stack up to someone. I think it’s good information. I think it’s better information for the fans and people think that we are just sitting on our couch and it’s not a tough environment. I think it’s helped show that ‘hey look the heartrate is up.’ It’s up for four or five hours. I’m averaging 130-135 heartrate through a four-hour period of time and anybody that goes out for a run and tries to carry that heartrate for four hours they are going to be on the side of the road pretty quick. It helps us tell the story that we are athletes inside these cars more than I can look at another driver’s limited biometrics and say ‘they had a more difficult time than I did’ or learn anything from it.”
HOW DO YOU DIGEST AND BREAKDOWN THE NEW PAVEMENT AND NEW CONFIGURATION AS A DRIVER?
“Getting started just look at the big areas of speed. It’s not about the fine details. Hopefully, the baseline run or two you get the big issues out of the way and then you can get into those little details. Honestly, those little details are where Chad (Knaus, crew chief) and I do our best work. The bigger pieces we seem to struggle with over the years and once we get on the right trail we can extract a lot out of the little detail areas.”
DO YOU EVER WORRY ABOUT GETTING HURT WHEN YOU ARE OUT SKIING ON THE MOUNTAIN?
“Yeah, I think about it and I think I manage my risk. I know that my team owner is at least okay with me being out there. I look at the video I posted recently and I’m on a very low pitch, very wide-open, powder snow. I mean it’s the best conditions… and nobody around. It was in this private area of the mountain we were riding in this CAT to get out to it. I felt like I was managing my risk pretty damn well to go into that environment. But, you could get run over by a car cycling, running, you could step off the curb in front of a bus. Again, I feel like every driver is willing to take certain risk for their fitness and to live their life. Me being on those skis it’s more about living my life and doing something I enjoy. Sure, there are a lot of drivers right now getting fit. A lot of guys are choosing to ride the bike, somebody is going to fall and get hurt. It just happens. I hope that everybody in this room and I hope our fans don’t over react. We have to live our lives. We didn’t develop these out of control tendencies in a race car by sitting in a rubber room playing chess. We’ve got to live our lives. I say all that because at some point somebody will get hurt and I just don’t want there to be an overreaction.”
EDDIE GOSSAGE TALKED ABOUT HOW HE HAS BEEN AFTER NASCAR FOR A LONG TIME TO SLOW THE CARS DOWN. THAT HE CHALLENGES RACE FANS TO TELL A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN 185 AND 200 AND THAT YOU AND YOUR FELLOW DRIVERS COULD PUT ON A BETTER SHOW AT 185. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THAT?
“I don’t disagree. I feel like the Driver Council gave the drivers a collective opportunity to share the same thing and to have the same voice and when you look at the rules package from 2015 until now the goal has been to create off throttle time and slow down the center of corner speed. From a safety perspective and from a race quality perspective. It’s a direction the sport has been going in and I think the next step is looking at the tracks and trying to create more lanes and certainly look at the asphalt and what type of asphalt we put down. I commend Texas Motor Speedway for looking around at recent repaves and tracks that showed the highest tire wear. Kentucky and what we are going to drive on today, there has been a big effort made in creating some texture in the track to promote tire wear and to slow the cars down over the course of a run. We don’t mind going fast for five or 10 laps, but when you get into the heart of the run, we need fall off, we need tire wear, that is only going to create more passing. Nobody is going to notice a five or 10 mph speed difference, but you are going to notice a massive difference in entertainment as the cars can run side-by-side.”
IS IT AT ALL FRUSTRATING OR WORRISOME THAT A PLACE THAT HAS BEEN A REAL CHIP FOR YOU ESPECIALLY IN THE PLAYOFFS, IS NOW AND UNKNOWN QUANTITY WHEN YOU COME HERE THIS TIME?
“I hadn’t thought of it that way. I know Phoenix the repave and reconfiguration certainly brought me some heartburn. I guess maybe I learned my lesson then that I can’t do much about it. And at 16 years in the sport I’m at a point where a lot of these surfaces are going to change. Just comes with the territory. I haven’t thought much about this one, but the Phoenix repave definitely messed with my mojo for a while.”
ON A VERY BASIC LEVEL HOW DO YOU GO OUT ON A BRAND-NEW TRACK AND LAYDOWN WHAT SHOULD BE A FAST LAP ON NEW TIRES? HOW DO YOU KNOW WHAT TO DO? HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN TO LIFT?
“We will definitely tip toe our way into it. Past history of this track, especially in (Turns) 3 and 4 it looks pretty similar. I was out there in a rental car, (Turn) 1 and 2 are way different. So, just trial and error. I think the big issue we are going to deal with today is how quickly the rubber goes down. When I went out and drove around last night, I know the tire monster has been here, but there is just nothing like the real thing and putting rubber down where we are going to run. I think in (Turns) 3 and 4 it’s pretty straight forward where we will run. Over here (pointing to Turns 1 and 2) I don’t know if we are going to run the bottom. From going into the corner and where all that real estate now is in that low lane, it’s a pretty big transition off the straightaway to get down there. So, just trial and error, we will go out there and find visual reference points on the wall and use that as a lift point, judge how that corner went maybe a little further. I guess, maybe one of the basic things that we will do is look for visual reference points and systematically work our way up to speed. From lift points, braking points and also back to gas points around the track.”
WHAT IS GOING TO MAKE THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE THE REPAVE OR THE RECONFIGURATION?
“I would say the asphalt itself. Tire wear has been so high here and any caution you would take tires otherwise you would be lapped right away and we won’t have that issue. We will probably scuff every set of tires that NASCAR will give us. We might put cold tires on, but they are not going to be worn out. You might have a little speed on the front side of the run with cold right-side tires. I doubt we will put many left-side sets on. I think the asphalt itself is going to be a bigger factor in this first race. As time goes on I think the extra real estate we have in (Turns) 1 and 2 will become more the story, but getting started it’s going to be tire wear related and the asphalt.”
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HAVING YOUR PLANE AND USING IT TO GET ACROSS THE COUNTRY TO RACES OR SPONSOR STUFF?
“It’s something that is obviously very expensive and once you get to a certain level in the Cup Series and the sponsor obligations are there it’s a necessary evil to have. It’s a massive luxury for sure. Over the course of time the teams have really ramped up their aviation departments and somebody like Kyle Larson, I know he was talking about last week about flying commercial and using team planes. I went two or three years of hitching rides with (Jeff) Gordon, flying team planes and commercial and eventually I got to a point where I needed mine. Again, it’s a necessary evil for driver and team. If our crew members, especially had to worry about flying commercial and delays. Worrying about set hours we would be so inefficient and not be able to perform at the level we need to just in time away from the shop. Heck you might not even make it here for practice when it opens up.”