NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
AAA TEXAS 500
TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
NOVEMBER 1, 2013
Jimmie Johnson Leads Team Chevy in Texas Qualifying
Five-time Champion will Start Third in Sunday’s AAA Texas 500
FT. WORTH (November 1, 2013) – Five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) champion Jimmie Johnson turned in the third fastest qualifying time for Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Piloting his familiar No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS, Johnson, who is currently tied for the lead in the series point standings with just three races remaining in the 2013 season, went out seventh in the order of 43 drivers attempting to make the field. Despite a little brush with the wall, he held the top spot until very late in the qualifying order.
“I was committed to the throttle off of Turn 4 and just kind of ran out of room,” said Johnson after his Qualifying run. “And I hate to admit it, but at one point I think I had my eyes shut because I knew there was going to be contact. I just didn’t know how much. But, I just grazed the wall and scratched the sticker for the bumper cover and tail light on the back of the car.”
Giving Team Chevy four of the top-10 starters in the 334-lap/501-mile race on the 1.5-mile tri-oval are: Paul Menard, No. 27 Quaker State Chevrolet SS – 4th; Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 88 AMP Energy Gold/7-Eleven Chevrolet SS – 7th and Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet SS – 8th.
Carl Edwards (Ford) won the pole. Brad Keselowski (Ford) and Kyle Busch (Toyota) complete the top-five qualifiers.
The race is scheduled to start Sunday at 3:00 p.m. EST with live TV coverage on ESPN. Live radio coverage will be provided by PRN Radio and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.
POST-QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT:
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET SS, QUALIFIED 3RD.
YOU QUALIFIED THIRD. IT LOOKED LIKE YOU TAPPED THE WALL. TALK ABOUT YOUR QUALIFYING RUN
“Yeah, I was committed to the throttle off of Turn 4 and just kind of ran out of room. And I hate to admit it, but at one point I think I had my eyes shut because I knew there was going to be contact. I just didn’t know how much. But, I just grazed the wall and scratched the sticker for the bumper cover and tail light on the back of the car.
“In watching Brad (Keselowski’s) lap, he was in the throttle early as well and lost some time off of (Turn) 4. And then when the Nol. 99 (Carl Edwards) came through, his moment was in (Turns) 1 and 2, but he had a really good (Turns) 3 and 4 and was able to nip us both there. But, I’m real proud of the lap. Even though it was exciting off of Turn 4, as early as we went out to be able to get that lap time, I think it shows our car has a lot of speed in it.”
DOES MATT KENSETH HAVE A WEAKNESS? IF SO, WHAT IS IT?
“No; I mean at this point, with three races left, I can’t say that there really is. I’m not planning on it. I didn’t have a lot of faith built in Martinsville being a weak track for him because he ran so good there in the spring. It certainly wouldn’t hurt my feelings if he ran 15th all day (laughs) but I knew that wouldn’t be the case early-on in the event and he had a strong race. So, I don’t think there’s a weakness for either team right now. We’re probably going to finish by each other. If somebody has a mistake, I think that will be the deciding factor. But other than that, I think we’re going to run right around each other for these next three races.”
LAST WEEK, WHEN GREG BIFFLE WAS ANGRY AND CAME UP TO YOU ON PIT ROAD, YOU DIDN’T THROW A PUNCH, BUT JUST CALMED HIM DOWN BY PUTTING YOUR HAND ON HIS CHEST AND TRIED TO TALK TO HIM. IN THAT MOMENT, HOW DID YOU KEEP YOUR COMPOSURE AND STAY CALM?
“I don’t know what kept me from swinging, to be honest. You never know how you’re going to react until you’re in those moments. After I realized who it was, because I was caught off guard; I didn’t know where it came from. And it was a shock to see Greg because we were on track and roughing each other pretty good for quite a few laps and I thought that everything had simmered down and was gone.
“And at that point in time, I didn’t know that his bumper cover was why he went to pit road. I saw him go to pit road, but I didn’t know he was black-flagged for it. So there was a lot of confusion there and I was surprised to see that it was him. I didn’t know who it would be, but I just didn’t think it would be him. So, I thought if he was that mad he would have spun me out on the race track. And then again, my lack of knowledge of knowing that his bumper cover was why he was so upset, I was talking to him about how we had contact in the first place, and the fact that I was inside of him going into Turn 3, which instigated the next five or six exchanges that we had. So my mindset was on something else in general and I was trying to collect my thoughts.
“And then truthfully, the most important thing in it all was after he grabbed me, the look in his eyes, I don’t even think he looked at me. He was looking around me and saw all of you (media) standing there. I think he was just as shocked that he grabbed me like that as anyone. And I’ve been in a couple of fights, not many, but he didn’t want to fight. He was just pissed. So, I think at the end of the day that was really the energy in that moment that let me stay calm and just kind of handle it how I did.”
DID YOU JUST WORK ON QUALIFYING DURING PRACTICE? YOU JUST DID SEVEN LAPS. ARE YOU THAT CONFIDENT IN YOUR RACE SET-UP?
“Well, we were here and tested last week. We came here twice so I’m a bit confused on exactly when. But we had very similar conditions on the second day of testing. Chad (Knaus) loves to have a plan and to work through a plan and executed well during the test and had a very productive test. And coming back, we had a plan of just working qualifying runs today and then focus on race runs tomorrow. So, it’s nice being able to test, especially being so close to race time and things are buttoned up and the car that you wanted to use and test with and all those kinds of things. So it worked really well for us today.”
WITH ALL THIS TESTING AND PLANNING, WHAT’S THE PURPOSE OF PRACTICING TOMORROW? WHAT’S THE GOAL TOMORROW?
“For the guys that tested, we’d love to see it rain out to some degree and you’d just have to line-up and run, you know? (laughs) You know what you have in your car. But it’ll be small changes. It’ll be trends. The No. 20 (Matt Kenseth) had a tire issue when we were here so we’ll try to validate a longer run and make sure there are no issues. So, it’s very small things, to be honest. And just to get a temperature on the track and how it’s grip level is and what adjustment might work. So, there will be pretty fine adjustments tomorrow. We won’t be changing a-frames and springs and all that kind of stuff. It’ll be pretty minor. The engine shop would love us not to run (laughter).”
NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES