Friday, November 12, 2010

Jimmie Johnson Comments From Friday at Phoenix International Raceway

HOW HAVE YOU HAD TO ADJUST YOUR THOUGHTS FOR THESE FINAL TWO RACES?: “Every year is going to be different. Last year we were in a different position coming out of Texas and kind of on our heels a little bit with the crash we had. Other times we’ve been here, we’re really wanted to race hard and win the race and separate ourselves from the 24 (Jeff Gordon) one year and even the 99 (Carl Edwards) in the past. I feel like I’m in familiar territory although I am in second and behind the 11 (Denny Hamlin) right now, it’s about performing here. It’s really simple with the small margin we have, we still feel like we have plenty of control and just have to win this championship. If we go out and do our jobs as a team, lead laps, win races then we can be the ones sitting at the head table in Las Vegas. We firmly believe in our hearts that we can do this. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”

DID YOU WANT TO USE YOUR REGULAR PIT CREW THESE LAST TWO RACES AND IS THERE ANYTHING YOU ARE DOING TO GET TO KNOW YOUR NEW PIT CREW?: “I know all the guys that are going to be pitting the car this weekend. It’s just tough. There’s a lot that went on and took place at Hendrick Motorsports amongst all the department heads, crew chiefs and the guys themselves as to what this week is going to look like and moving forward to the end of the year at Homestead. We feel that the change this weekend has brought a lot of excitement to the race shop and sometimes just changing things around a little bit works well for teams.

“We’ve seen it with the RCR (Richard Childress Racing) guys and I could say that whoever would be pitting the car this weekend is really genuinely excited to win the championship. The guys that are going to be doing it this weekend – they are fired up. We feel that we’re going to get the best out of them. Certainly a tough decision and my heart’s out to my 48 guys that won’t be crewing the car this weekend, but its go time and we need to make a decision and hopefully the decision that’s the best for our race team to win a championship this year. Only time will tell what that decision turns out to be.”

DO YOU THINK IT WAS SMART FOR MIKE FORD TO MAKE COMMENTS ABOUT YOUR TEAM AND DO YOU THINK KEVIN HARVICK IS STILL IN THIS CHASE?: “I don’t know. The reason that I’m looking at the 11 (Denny Hamlin) is that he’s the one that’s ahead of us. When we were leading, I was looking back at both of them closely. I know Kevin’s (Harvick) right there I guess. With the 11 taking the points lead and all and all that’s been made of it, it’s been very easy just to talk about the 11 car, but the 29 is there and serious. Again, I expected comments to be made after the 11 won in Texas. Believe me; we have used those comments as motivation inside Hendrick Motorsports. There’s been plenty of references to the comments made. Guys are thinking about it during their sets in the gym, when they’re changing tires on pit stops, there have been emails internally – it’s been a great motivational tool. We certainly hope to show it this weekend.”

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE IN SECOND PLACE IN THE POINTS?: “It sucks. I don’t want to be there. Every year feels different and it does feel different being here this late in the game. We all know how special a run we’ve been on and how rare it is in sports period. In my mind as the years have gone by, I have really tried not to get used to it.

“I’ve always tried to be fearful of not being there and I don’t know if it’s just getting myself prepared for the day there’s a really big challenge or what, but I’m not as panicked as people may think. I think a lot of it boils down to the fact that I know how good my race team is. I know how good we’re going to do here and in Homestead and I’m just trying not to over think it and just go out there and do my job.”

DO YOU SEE YOURSELF AS THE UNDER DOG?: “Hell, I don’t know. I don’t care. I’m not sure where I see myself. I know I’m down and I need to get back on top.”

CAN YOU KEEP THE BLINDERS ON TO OTHER COMMENTS?: “I am personally because as you guys know, especially when we’re in the Chase, I don’t follow the coverage. It’s just so easy to be persuaded from what really is important and what’s on your mind that I just don’t get engaged. I’m not involved with that stuff. I’m very involved with my team. I know where Chad (Knaus, crew chief) is mentally, I know where my guys are and that’s my reality. That’s what I need to worry about and focus on. We are in a great place and we’re ready for these next two races.”

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