JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S/KOBALT TOOLS CHEVROLET – FINISHED 2ND
KERRY THARP: We’ll roll into our post-race here today at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Our race runner up is Jimmie Johnson.
Jimmie, outstanding performance put on by the 48 team. Your thoughts about the last few restarts and the last few laps there coming down the stretch.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, I mean, definitely a lot to be proud of today. Look at our pit stops on pit road, the consistent speed we had there. The consistent fast racecar that we had all day long.
We did have one set of tires maybe two stops from the end, we lost a bunch of spots. Something was off with them. Outside of that, I mean, the car was pretty close to the fastest car all day long. Traded back and forth with Tony. Can’t take anything away from them. They were awfully strong, the fastest car all day long. Traded back and forth with Tony. Can’t take anything away from them. They were awfully strong. The last two restarts, second to the last started, I just blew it. He got away from me. The next to the last start, I felt like I got a good one. He still cruised away.
My only chance was to be at his outside through one and two. Didn’t have that opportunity. He had the lane at that point. Drove my guts out, but just didn’t get it done.
KERRY THARP: We’ll take some questions now.
Q. It looked like nobody could pass the leader. Was it all clean air?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: I don’t know what the average speed was, but we’re flying around here. The faster you go, the more that clean air becomes a priority. Passing for the lead was tough. I worked my way all the way through the field. Took me forever to get by the 17 on one of those runs for the lead itself.
I definitely agree with that. Luckily we’re on a track with multiple grooves and we can move around. The first car definitely has an advantage.
On the short run, there was enough parity to get something done. That’s why I’m frustrated with my restarts. If I could have got to his outside on the restart, I think I had a chance.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about the restarts. Tony Stewart accused you of laying back.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: I don’t know about laying back. It’s his prerogative to go as fast as he wants to go. He’s the leader setting the pace.
Normally you got to keep speed with the pace car itself. The pace car is pulling away from us, so I’m just going as fast as he is right alongside of him.
It would be foolish of me to be tire to tire with him, then he could really take advantage of me because my line of sight, I’m not able to see his racecar. It’s pretty much standard deal to sit back on the door number so you have a line of sight on the car that’s the leader so that you can time it with them.
Nothing out of the ordinary there.
Q. You said you’d look at things for the future. What do you do when you’re not racing to learn how to do restarts or to get better reports?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Well, we have a new element this year. I’ve usually been real good at that stuff. But the fuel injection is different, and the mapping that we develop for that is quite a bit different than years past.
The first one I know that I just jumped on the gas too hard and spun ‘em. That was my fault. The second restart, I didn’t spin ‘em. I felt really good. He was still running away from me.
So we can go in and look at the data, not much data, but the little bit we have, hopefully we can find a direction to help the car accelerate a little bit better up through second gear.
Q. You get to look at his mapping to see what he was doing on those restarts?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yup (laughter). I’ve already asked for it, too. Got to be a two way street. They’ve been looking at our stuff for a lot of years.
Q. Fourth and second since the penalty came down. Do you feel like you’re back open track in some ways going into Tuesday?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, I mean, we’ve worked so hard over the off season to put speed in our cars, make them comfortable and consistent so I can get in there and not be on edge while driving it.
We’ve achieved that goal. We did some early testing in Nashville, and somewhere else, too. Disneyworld. Early testing this year, we saw that we had a better product. That’s had me very excited.
Daytona we didn’t finish very well. Not much we can do about that. I’ve been proud of our short track program, now our mile and a half stuff, now we’re going to Bristol. We’ve been really good there lately so it shouldn’t change.
KERRY THARP: Jimmie, thanks a lot. See you at Bristol.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Thank you.