CHEVY MENCS AT BRISTOL ONE: Jimmie Johnson Press Conf. Transcript

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PRESS RELEASE

 

MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES

FOOD CITY 500
BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY

TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT

APRIL 21, 2017

 

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Bristol Motor Speedway and discussed his off weekend, thoughts on Bristol Motor Speedway using VHT traction compound on the bottom lane this weekend, racing during the day at Charlotte Motor Speedway in October and many other topics.  Full Transcript:

 

THOUGHTS ON RACING THIS WEEKEND AT BRISTOL:
“Excited to come back and this is one of our most entertaining tracks on the circuit.  Clearly things have changed a lot here over the years with the resurfacing and then the VHT (traction compound) on the bottom.  I show up with great optimism.  I feel like we don’t necessarily qualify great here, but I always raced much better.  We have been top three, top five, finishing position quite a few times.  Maybe a few looks at a win with a very competitive car and just hopeful to kind of raise it up a notch, use the momentum from two weeks ago from the win in Texas and find just a little bit more speed here and go to Victory Lane once again.”

 

ARE YOU OKAY AFTER TEXAS?  DURING THE OFF-WEEKEND DALE EARNHARDT, JR. WAS TRASH TALKING ABOUT HOW MUCH HE WORKED OUT VERSUS HOW MUCH YOU WORKED OUT THOUGHTS ON THAT?
“Yeah, the three IV bags did wonders.  After leaving the media center, thank you all for sticking around, I started my off weekend quickly that night and proceeded to chase out the pain with as many margaritas and beers as I could down in Mexico.  I recovered well, but unfortunately came back sick from Mexico and I’m just on the tail end of that now.  If you are going to play you are going to pay I guess at the end of the day (laughs).  I just started catching wind of his harassment.  I’m waiting for my moment to strike back.”

 

HOW CAN YOU BREAK THIS TRACK DOWN AND FIGURE IT OUT WITH WHAT YOU KNOW ABOUT THE SURFACE AND WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW?
“I think we are all looking for a variable condition here, just to change it up because we know the top is the place to be.  For me personally, it’s been one of the more difficult tracks for me to figure out.  I welcome any change that might be thrown at us and any opportunity to create different lanes and searching around the race track.  For me, I find it more as an opportunity for guys that run here consistently up front every year maybe they are not as excited as somebody in my shoes.”

 

WAS THE OFF WEEK ANY DIFFERENT CONSIDERING THAT YOU WON?
“Damn straight.  We would have been drowning sorrows instead of celebrating and enjoying it.  There is no better way to go into an off weekend than with a win or a strong run, strong performance because we all sit inside of our heads and think about where we are at, what is going on.  A tricky start to our season to say the least and to punch our ticket to the playoffs and get that win made for a great off weekend.”

 

IF THE VHT (TRACTION COMPOUND) IS BEING PUT DOWN WHAT MORE CAN BE DONE TO EVEN OUT THE LANES OR SHOULD THAT EVEN BE THE GOAL?  SHOULD THERE ALWAYS BE ONE LANE THAT IS BETTER ON RESTARTS?
“It’s really tough for any track to address just a restart problem.  I think without the VHT down there is no chance.  During the course of a 500-lap race I think our issue is we literally just run it off and use it up.  At the start of a race, I think the advantage is probably… the lanes are more equal, but at the end of the race there is really not much you can do for that.  I think in dreamland some of us drivers have considered like some kind of grip strips that exists if you could use a painted line.  I know we see a painted line at Atlanta offer a ton of grip on the inside of the lane and inside the tracks if there was a way to create something like that.  I commend Bristol for trying in that wish land space to try and do something here at the bottom.  Martinsville looked at it for the outside lane.  It was hard to tell if it was worth the risk to try it.  But here it has worked and in the driver’s council meeting after our Fall race here, we were all eager to make sure it was back down and thought that it did offer more options than without it.”

 

WOULDN’T IT MAKE MORE SENSE THAN USING THE VHT TO MAKE THE BOTTOM LINE COME IN, DIG UP THE PROGRESSIVE BANKING AND JUST RESTORE IT TO ITS ORIGINAL 36 DEGREE BANKING?
“I think Bruton’s (Smith, track owner) question is going to be would you mind paying for it?  It’s a lot cheaper than doing that. I think that is the bottom line.”

 

ON WHY THE BUMP AND RUN IT NOT READILY ACCEPTED AS IT HAS BEEN IN THE PAST:
“I see where you are going with it and I do agree.  There is definitely less grudges kind of amongst driver’s in today’s era.  Right or wrong it is just how it is.  I think the majority of the reaction was because it was amongst teammates.  I guess back in the (Jeff) Gordon (Rusty) Wallace era the teammates you had on a given team were less and Rusty against Jeff they weren’t on the same team so it was a lot easier to just chalk it up as good racing.  We are all a bit more sensitive to it now, especially inside the cars.  I’m sure the old fans are a little frustrated with it and I guess maybe the new fans are.  It’s just kind of the evolution of this generation of driver.  I would say more than anything and then the teammate piece.”

 

WOULD YOU BE WILLING TO DO THE BUMP AND RUN FOR A VICTORY IF PUT IN THAT POSITION?
“I want to say yes, but I’m so bad with the bump and run it’s a bump and crash.  I found that for me personally it takes more time to set-up a soft nudge to move someone than it is just to pass them.  That has just been my style over the years.  I am terrible at it.  I tried to move Rich Bickle out of the way in 1999 or something at Memphis.  I picked his rear tires up and carried him down the straightaway and set him down in time to crash head-on into the wall in Turn 1.  I never knew that I picked his tires up off the ground, felt terrible and then unfortunately, when I was shopping the next day for groceries, I saw him in the produce section. I thought that man was going to beat me to death with a head of lettuce and chase me around in the produce section.  So, at that point, I figured I just better worry about passing people instead of trying to move them.”


DALE EARNHARDT, JR. TOLD US IN DAYTONA IT WOULD TAKE HIM AWHILE TO GET BACK AND RACE LIKE HE USED TO.  HE SAID THE OTHER DRIVERS WOULD SEE IT BEFORE ANYBODY ELSE.  IS HE BACK?
“No, he is right with that.  When you miss that much time from the car the sport changes.  Your sensitivity to what you feel in the race car kind of fades and to be as sharp as you need to in order to find five hundredths of a second to be competitive it’s tough and it takes reps.  I see where he is coming from and why he made that comment in February.  I can’t say that it’s crossed my mind watching him this year.  He seems very comfortable in there, but to go to Texas two weeks ago and for him to run as competitive as he did at a treacherous track, I mean your sensitivity to the car and sliding the tires needed to be as sharp as ever.  I think that is a great indication of him finding that last little bit and he is ready to go to Victory Lane.”

 

IS RICHMOND TEMPERATURE SENSITIVE?  DO YOU NOTICE MUCH OF A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DAY AND NIGHT RACING THERE?
“Yeah, I have always been a huge fan of day races there.  I think our… I’ve won a bunch of the rainouts on I guess would be a Sunday day race.  We always joke internally on the No. 48 if it rains out we are like ‘sweet we’ve got a shot.’  I think a day race there puts on a much better show.  I’m happy to hear that Charlotte is going to do a day race for the October race.  I just think we put on better races.  When the sun sets, the grip goes up and it just makes it easier.  Not that it’s easy to do our jobs, but you have the best drivers and the best teams in the world and you make the conditions a step easier we are not going to have as competitive of racing.  I’m excited to see Richmond go to a day race.”

 

WERE YOU CONTACTED BY CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY IN THE DECISION TO MOVE THE FALL OCTOBER RACE TO A DAY RACE?  WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE CHANGE?
“Yeah, the conversation came up in a driver council meeting and threw us talking to our fellow drivers in the garage area and reporting back.  That was something we were adamant about to put on a better show for that Fall October race.”

 

WOULD YOU ATTRIBUTE THE LACK OF PATIENCE EARLY IN A RACE TO STAGE RACING?
“You are 100 percent right.  The stage racing just changed the flow of a race for sure.  I think drivers like myself, maybe (Matt) Kenseth, I don’t know, there are some guys that maybe don’t qualify as well that always show up at the front when the checkered falls.  It is messing with that flow for sure.  Short track racing will definitely heighten it and I think you will see more of it here because we can lean on one another, same thing at Martinsville.  I definitely agree, stage racing has changed the game and I don’t see it calming down.  It’s going to continue to ramp up.”

 

DO YOU FIND YOURSELF HAVING TO PREPARE ANY DIFFERENTLY FOR A RACE AT BRISTOL?
“No, I mean I’m very through with my pre-race prep and all the things that I can look at and study.  And very normal and standard kind of week of prepping.  I would have to say that Texas was such an unknown that it was a very easy weekend because of the new surface to go in.  I really didn’t do much going into it because there was nothing to compare to.  That was kind of an off week of prep, but for this one it was just kind of a normal week of getting ready.”

 

WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS WHEN YOU HEARD THAT FERNANDO ALONSO WAS GOING TO COMPETE IN THIS YEAR’S INDY 500?  IS THAT SOMETHING THAT COULD BE ON THE BACK BURNER FOR YOU ONE DAY?
“For me, no, my window has closed.  I was looking into it seriously years ago.  Then Chani (Johnson, wife) just kind of worked out a deal that pre-kids, sure, I couldn’t get it done.  Until IndyCar decides to put some kind of roof on their cars or protect the drivers head, it’s just…from our family discussions it’s out of the question.  But excited just to see what happens just as a fan of all forms of motorsports, I have always been a fan of Alonso.  It’s been very entertaining on and off the track.  I love his tenacity.  I’m shocked to see that he is going to able to pull it off and eager to see how he does.  I think we all wonder how different drivers would fare in different series and I think it will be very cool to watch.”

 

THROUGHOUT MOST OF YOUR CAREER THE WOOD BROTHERS HAVE NOT BEEN A MAJOR PLAYER IN THIS SPORT. AS YOU HAVE SEEN THEIR STRENGTH THIS YEAR, DO YOU HAVE A BETTER APPRECIATION OF WHAT IT IS LIKE TO SEE THAT CAR/TEAM HAVE SUCCESS?
“Sure, that is a great question.  I knew a little bit from afar.  I knew David Pearson era and knew the number and paint scheme on the car, but didn’t get to know them until I really started in the Cup series.  I appreciate the history of our sport and appreciate everything they have done, but certainly not as connected as many of the others.  To see their success and to see their… actually when their partnership with Penske formed I had a smile for them.  To see their success and to see who competitive Ryan (Blaney) has been and to get to know the boys over the years, they are a lot of fun.  I’m so happy to know that we have history still walking around in our sport.  Richard Petty is still here. Leonard Wood, the Wood Brothers are still here.  It’s really cool to see it and I’m very happy for them.”

 

 

 

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About Chevrolet:
Founded in 1911 in Detroit, Chevrolet is one of the world’s largest car brands, doing business in more than 100 countries and selling more than 4.0 million cars and trucks a year. Chevrolet provides customers with fuel-efficient vehicles that feature engaging performance, design that makes the heart beat, passive and active safety features and easy-to-use technology, all at a value. More information on Chevrolet models can be found at www.chevrolet.com.

 

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