NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
DUCK COMMANDER 500
TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
APRIL 4, 2014
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S SPRING IS CALLING CHEVROLET SS met with media and discussed the new race format and number of winners so far this season, tire wear, upcoming tracks, and more. Full Transcripts:
WE’LL JUST LET YOU START:
“I appreciate the opportunity to say thank you to everybody for your thoughts and prayers. This week has been a very difficult week for the Janway family (Johnson’s wife Chandra Janway-Johnson, lost her brother Jordan Janway in a skydiving accident March 31st). It’s been so tough for me to sit back and watch the people I love so much deal with so much pain. But, things are progressing and everybody is as good as you could hope. Last night, the family spent a lot of time telling stories about Jordan and smiling a little bit; smiling more than tears, and the healing process has definitely started.
“So, I just wanted to come in (to the Media Center) and make a brief comment before we got busy with racing. And then, try to switch my mind into this racing reality and focus the next couple of days and go racing and try to win a race. So, just once again, thank you to sponsors, fans, friends, and everybody involved. The few times I did check into Social Media, there’s just been a huge outpouring of support and I’m very thankful.”
IT’S VERY EARLY IN THE SEASON. WE’RE JUST SIX RACES IN. BUT, WITH THE NEW FORMAT AND THE WINS BEING SO VALUABLE, WHAT IS THE PRESSURE LIKE TO GET THAT FIRST WIN AND PUT IT BEHIND YOU?
“I haven’t felt any pressure with the new format yet. Maybe I’m naive or stupid of something else, but the season takes on so many different changes and I feel like we’ve had a few looks here recently at a victory and I feel like it’s coming and hope that it’s coming soon so that I don’t have to answer the question (laughs). But, I’ve won at different points in the year. Some years, a little later than I would have liked. But I haven’t felt like until California, we had a legitimate opportunity to win. So, to go back to back weeks with an honest look at a victory is very cool. And we’re at another great race track for the No. 48 team. Dover is out there before long. And we’ve had success at upcoming Darlington we’ve had success at. So I feel like we have some good opportunities ahead. It might become much more of a topic, especially if the win column keeps growing like it has without repeat winners. And if that’s the case, it will shoot my mindset completely apart. I firmly believe it’s pretty rare to have 16 winners in a season; especially 16 winners in 26 races. And I feel like points will still get somebody a berth into the first stage of the championship.”
EVERYBODY IS COUNTING THE NUMBER OF WINNERS THIS YEAR. WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE A LARGE NUMBER OF WINNERS OVER THE COURSE OF THE SEASON? OR, DO YOU THINK IT’S BETTER FOR FANS TO SEE A HANDFUL OF DRIVERS WIN EVERY WEEK?
‘It depends on what hat I’m wearing (laughter). If I’m wearing my hat, I just want the No. 48 to win every week. But for this sport and our fans, I think it’s great to have multiple winners. It shows the parody and lets each drivers’ fan base get their time in the spotlight. And also the personalities that exist in the garage area have a great way of coming out in Victory Lane and the couple of days that follow.”
IN BASEBALL, GUYS MIGHT GO ZERO FOR 10; BUT IF THEY’RE HITTING LINE DRIVES, THEY ARE HAPPY BECAUSE THEY KNOW THOSE WILL START FINDING HOLES. IS THAT SIMILAR TO YOUR SITUATION AND THAT YOU DON’T NEED TO CHANGE?
“Yeah, without a doubt. That’s been our belief all along. And the thing that I’m building a lot of stock in is since I’ve started competing in the Cup Series, our goal has been to run in the top 5. And we’ve felt like if you run in the top 5, you’ll have opportunities to win races. And I’ve been able to win 66 races that way and six championships. So, I don’t feel like I need to change my viewpoint on winning races and trying to transfer into the Chase. If there’s a race or two to go and I don’t have a victory, it’s definitely going to change my opinion then, but I’ve built so much over the last 13 years with a certain mindset that myself and the team, we’re just not in the position to change that mindset yet.”
ARE YOU GOING TO HAVE ANYTHING ON YOUR CAR THIS WEEKEND FOR JORDAN JANWAY?
CAN YOU TELL US WHAT TYPE OF GUY HE WAS?
“I haven’t thought that far ahead for the car or helmet or anything; it’s been such a wild and crazy week. So now that my mind is going to switch into race mode I’d certainly consider something there and take a look at it. He was just a free spirit, a very adventurous guy. Base-jumping and parachuting and wearing the squirrel suits like you see the guys flying along the cliff sides, that’s what he did. He’s in a lot of those videos shooting that footage. So, it was a tragic death for sure. But he was doing something he loved. He was very passionate about it. And he never met a stranger. He was a very warm and caring young man and he’s definitely going to be missed.”
WITH THE NEW FORMAT, IF YOU WIN AT THIS TRACK IN THE FALL IT’S AN AUTOMATIC TICKET TO HOMESTEAD. ARE YOU THINKING ABOUT THAT AT ALL BY GETTING NOTES FOR THE FALL THAT FAR AHEAD?
“Yep, without a doubt. When I saw how the breakdown plays out going to Homestead, its here and Martinsville and Phoenix, three great race tracks for the No. 48. So that didn’t hurt my feelings one bit. We’ve just got to use the spring as an opportunity to develop our cars and learn. Granted, from the Martinsville standpoint, things will stay pretty similar. But (from) the Texas Spring to Texas Fall (races) there’s a lot of time in there, especially with the new car, to develop set-ups. But if we take good notes and understand the track and how it changes, we’ll be able to apply those things.”
COULD YOU TELL US HOW IT FELT LAST YEAR BEFORE THE PHOENIX CHASE RACE TO HELP THAT SOLDIER SURPRISE HIS FAMILY?
“Yeah, that was a crazy experience to be a party of to know that the family was going to meet; dad was coming home essentially. And the family had no idea. And to not mess it up, and not blow the surprise, was a challenge. I was so happy for them and knew what was going to happen. I met them before driver intros, maybe two hours before that start of the race. And to know that their dad was there and the kids were going to see their father in a short time and his was going to be able to see her husband again, was an amazing experience. And it was something I will always cherish. It was cool to be a part of that.”
YOU WERE AT SONOMA RACEWAY RECENTLY DOING TESTING WITH GOODYEAR TIRE. WHAT ARE YOU THOUGHTS ON THE TEST AND HOW ARE YOU PREPARING FOR THE RACE?
“I wasn’t there testing but Hendrick was out there. I know the No. 24 (Jeff Gordon) was there. I think the No. 14 (Tony Stewart) went. And this week I haven’t been able to be a part of our team meetings to understand how the test went with the tragedy that happened. But ironically, (crew chief) Chad (Knaus) was just chatting with me a little bit in the transporter before I walked over and they had a very productive test out there. I know we’re encouraged from a chassis standpoint, but I didn’t hear particulars about tires and even lap times, but I know we had a good test out there.”
GIVEN THE WAY YOUR RACE ENDED AT FONTANA, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT GOODYEAR BRINGING THIS MULTI-TREAD DUAL-ZONE TIRE HERE THIS WEEK?
“We’ve seen a lot of good things with that dual-zone tire. I think it has shown from a wear-standpoint, very good durability. This track is very porous and it takes all the Nationwide and Cup practice to get the rubber in the track so the tire wear goes down. California, I think, was a different issue than tire wear. So, we’ve been on edge, in my opinion, a
t a few tracks; especially the faster tracks. And this car and how fast it goes, exploits that now in my opinion. So, I feel like we will have other issues. This track is known for high wear and I’m sure we’ll see some high wear issues. I don’t think we’ll see a construction issue. I don’t think we had any issues like that last time. But wear is going to be something to be concerned about. And it will only get better as the race goes on.”
NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES