|Jimmie Jobnson has three straight fourth-place finishes at Pocono (Getty)|
TALK ABOUT WINNING LAST WEEK AT THE BRICKYARD AND THE FACT THAT YOU WANT TO GET SOME MORE WINS BEFORE THE CHASE
“I do. It was a great race on Sunday and there is so much pride that went along with a successful day on pit road and on the race track; we had a fast race car and what I did behind the wheel, there is a lot to be proud of last Sunday.
“I enjoyed Monday at home and then Tuesday went up for the ESPN Car Wash and had a great experience there. I’m very excited to see the progress, I feel our sport is making and NASCAR is making through the sports world and it’s most evident walking through the halls of ESPN. It was a great experience there and one in which where Rick Mears called in during the NASCAR Now spot and completely caught me off guard. I had no idea he would call in. We were live on air but I didn’t know if we were taping it or what it was. I thought it was a practical joke at first but it was just a cool, cool experience; and one I’ve savored a lot and enjoyed this week.
“But clearly we’re at another race track and once we get on track, everything changes and it’s about the present and trying to win another race here at Pocono. I’m excited. I think what we had at Indy will crossover very well here. We didn’t have that kind of speed when we were here the first time (June race) but I think we’re a little smarter. We went back to Indy and perfected things and are certainly hoping for the same thing here.”
WITH NO DISRESPECT TO YOUR TEAMMATE, AND CONSIDERING HOW THE CHASE OPERATES, WOULD YOU RATHER HAVE THE THREE WINS OR THE POINTS LEAD?
“Three wins. When I look at last year’s point’s battle with it being a tie, every point you can have in the post-season is important. There are a lot of good things to come with leading the points. I’ve always felt and have always said that the pressure that’s on the point’s leader through the end of the regular season, there’s something there that helps; has helped me in the past, and I think (helps) the team. Once the Chase starts, any type of exposure to pressure for the crew guys, the over the wall guys, and the driver is all helpful. The Chase is so important and the emotion. You might dodge it for a week or two or might get deeper into the Chase before it really hits you, but at some point it will. And the more exposure you have to that pressure, the better.”
THERE IS PROBABLY NOT ENOUGH CREDIT GIVEN TO THE DRIVERS FOR HOW GOOD THEY ARE AT WHAT THEY DO. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT FIGURING A RACE TRACK OUT AND WHAT YOU DO TO DO THAT? TALK ABOUT HOW YOU DO INDY AND DENNY HAMLIN DOES POCONO.
“There are some tracks you just come to and it clicks and I think Pocono has been that for Denny. But there are just certain tracks that click for people. Clearly the driver is on the track, but the crew chief has a set style and when the driver’s style and the crew chief’s style match on a given track, you’re fast and things work out really well. I’d say Indy, Bristol, Sonoma; those tracks were probably the most difficult tracks for me to sort out. It took years to figure out the line and the driving style needed.
“And, if you start the weekend off over-driving the car and doing the wrong things, you instantly change your path. You start adjusting the car to things that you don’t need to adjust it to. And then usually mid-race, for me, something clicks and I think oh, okay. That’s how I do it, when I’ve got my car set-up to do something else. And that just compounds it and it takes time.
“Indy took me five or six years to get it sorted out. Bristol took quite a long time and Sonoma the same. Those three tracks don’t fit my driving style but I’ve worked hard to make the right changes to myself and remind myself when I show up, how to drive that track.”
ARE YOU PATIENT ENOUGH TO WAIT FIVE YEARS TO LEARN?
“I’m probably more patient than most. I don’t feel like I have been at times and I’ve left those tracks very frustrated. But coming up through the ranks, anybody that I would speak to if they’re wearing a suit and if they’re a race car driver or whatever it was whether sponsor, owner, or driver, everyone said to have patience. And I hated to hear it. But it is very true. Patience helps in so many ways in this sport.”
DO YOU HAVE TO BE PATIENT ON PIT ROAD THIS WEEK? HOW DO YOU HANDLE COMING BACK TO A PLACE WHERE YOU WERE HIT TWICE THE LAST TIME AND THERE WAS AT LEAST SOME CONFUSION AS TO WHAT WAS GOING ON?
“Yeah, I’ll definitely be aware in that final segment leaving. I didn’t feel like I was impatient there last time. So, I’ll start more patiently (laughs). And then I feel like I can get back to where I was. But with so many people having trouble there, I’m not sure what took place. I’m sure it’s a smaller segment but we have much smaller segments at other race tracks that don’t have as much trouble as that one did (laughs). So, we’ll be patient to start.”
WHY DO YOU THINK IT MEANS SO MUCH TO DALE EARNHARDT JR. TO BE IN THE POINTS LEAD RIGHT NOW?
“It means a lot to everybody. I think that maybe his emotion coming through is what others probably should have. At this point in the season it says a lot if you’re leading the points. And I think the fashion in which he’s done it in completing all the laps is really impressive. We downplay things at times and maybe won’t give other drivers credit when they need it, but leading the points; I want to lead the points right now. I want to be in control. I think there’s a huge message sent by the points leader to the rest of the field. You need to win races I think to be well rounded and back it up and he’s won one and we’re at a track where I think he dominated the last time we were here. He has every reason to be excited.”
WHEN JUNIOR FIRST CAME TO HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS, A LOT OF PEOPLE WERE SAYING IT WAS KIND OF A ONE-SIDED DEAL WHERE KYLE (BUSCH) WAS A BETTER DRIVER AND HMS GOT THE SHORT END OF THE STICK. HAS THE TIDE TURNED ON THAT NOW?
“I’m trying to go back and remember the circumstances. I think from a company’s standpoint and the strength of the company especially from a business/financial standpoint, to have the line-up of drivers we have maximizes what we can do. I mean it was good for Hendrick Motorsports to have Junior come on and we all know that he has talent and ability and can win races and championships.
“I really feel like Rick (Hendrick) deep in his heart knew that he could help Junior’s situation. I’m thinking back to difficult times at Earnhardt Inc. and the drama that was all around it and performing; just the whole situation I think was really tough. And Rick knew that he could help steer Junior in the right way and calm down his overall environment and get him on track and get him going. We’re here today and happy to see the progress. But it’s so hard to say. Kyle is an amazing talent and he’s gone over to Gibbs and has really developed their equipment and has driven Gibbs into the forefront of racing week in and week out. So, it’s hard to say that one got a better deal out of it all, but business I think was a part of it. And right now, everybody is running well so that’s good.”
YOU ARE ONE OF FOUR GUYS WHO WILL BE TESTING THE 2013 CAR AT MARTINSVILLE NEXT WEEK ON TUESDAY AND WEDNESDAY. APPARENTLY NASCAR IS GOING TO BE LOOKING AT GETTING THE WEIGHT OUT OF THE RIGHT SIDE. WHAT ARE YOU ANTICIPATING FROM THE TEST AND HOPING TO LEARN ABOUT THE NEW CAR? AND DO YOU KNOW WHAT ELSE NASCAR MIGHT BE TRYING OUT?
“No, I don’t. It’s not uncommon for me to show-up at the track and figure out what we’re doing (laughs). I knew it was a ’13 test, but outside of that I’m not really sure what’s going on. I would assume there are changes with the mechanical grip side of the race car. Clearly there’s a new body on it so that will have some aero implications; although at that track, it won’t make a difference. But I’m excited to feel the car and to drive the car. We’re deep in the year and ’13 is coming quick, so I’m happy to be a part of it and hopefully I can give some great feedback of the car to NASCAR and to my team and to Chevrolet.”
WATKINS GLEN IS COMING UP. YOU QUALIFY THERE, BUT YOU HAVEN’T FINISHED WELL THE LAST THREE YEARS. WHAT’S THE REASON? AND WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT IT?
“The thing that gets me at The Glen so much is really fuel mileage. My driving style requires us to stop usually an additional time and I don’t know how to run a fast enough pace and save fuel at the same time there. It really gets me. I think back to a Nationwide race where I was driving Junior’s car and ran out (of fuel) with a few laps to go. It just happens to me there more than really anywhere. So, I’m hopeful that the EFI and the functionality of the EFI will help me there. And we’re working hard. We tested two days ago I guess it was, getting ready for The Glen. So, we’re putting in the whole effort. Hopefully I can be nice on the fuel mileage.”
JEFF GORDON WAS JUST NAMED THE WINNER OF THE HEISMAN HUMANITARIAN AWARD. AS SOMEBODY WHO HAS DONE A LOT OF FUND-RAISING YOURSELF, HOW PROUD ARE YOU AS A TEAMMATE AND TO SEE SOMEBODY IN THE NASCAR COMMUNITY BEING RECOGNIZED FOR ALL THE GOOD HE DOES IN TERMS OF PEDIATRIC FUND-RAISING?
“I wasn’t aware of that, but I am happy to hear it and think he’s extremely deserving. The efforts that he and his office put in place to make the right decisions to raise money, his fan-base for the support, and again Jeff’s commitment. Fund-raising and charitable work is only as successful as the person who’s behind it and the name that’s behind it; and that’s Jeff. I’m very happy for him. That’s an amazing honor.”
IN LIGHT OF WHAT’S HAPPENED WITH A.J. ALLMENDINGER, HOW DIFFICULT DO YOU THINK IT’S GOING TO BE FOR HIM TO BOUNCE BACK? WHAT DO YOU THINK HIS CHANCES ARE OF DOING THAT GIVEN THE SITUATION HE’S IN?
“Yeah, it’s going to be tough. There’s no doubt about it. We don’t have anyone else to really base it off of coming back into the sport to get a feel as to the corporate involvement, team owner’s response, and how that’s going to go for him. But in the car, he was developing at a great pace and showing plenty of speed and was very competitive. So, time will tell. I think people like a comeback story and if A.J. is committed to the process and getting back, I’m sure there will be some opportunities. I don’t think it’s going to be the one that he wants to start, but over time I would assume he could get back to a good spot. Everybody makes mistakes. We learn and grow from it and move on. People are usually, or mostly, responsive to that.”
Founded in 1911 in Detroit, Chevrolet is now one of the world’s largest car brands, doing business in more than 140 countries and selling more than 4 million cars and trucks a year. Chevrolet provides customers with fuel-efficient vehicles that feature spirited performance, expressive design and high quality. More information on Chevrolet models can be found at www.chevrolet.com.
- Team Chevy Press Release
JIMMIE JOHNSON CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis No. 681 serves as the primary for Johnson at Pocono. Johnson raced this car to wins at Darlington in May and last fall at Kansas. This will be the eighth race for the chassis. It last ran at Pocono in June finishing fourth. Chassis No. 669 serves as the backup.