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Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports - Q&A

Jimmie Johnson might be a five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, but he'd only won the Daytona 500 once - until now.
Jimmie Johnson may have been an unstoppable force of nature when it came to NASCAR Sprint Cup championships in recent years, but restrictor plate racing at venues such as Daytona International Speedway have been a different matter for the Hendrick Motorsports driver.

He's won the Daytona 500 once, in 2006 - the year he clinched his first Cup championship - but ever since then he's failed to even make the top 25. That all changed in 2013: does it herald the start of a new purple patch in the five-time champ's career?

Q:
Jimmie, were you surprised at the end as you started taking that inside line up through there, I kept waiting for somebody, Biffle, Danica, people running second, third or fourth, to drop down in front and let you push them along, were you surprised nobody jumped down in front of you and made you push?

Jimmie Johnson:
Yeah, everybody was just playing the odds. The majority of the competitors wanted to run the top. The draft really works in numbers. There's more there than the bottom. With the side drafting being as effective right now, you could really choke down the bottom lane and pin a guy against the line and slow him down and then get away and have that long line of cars to surge you past.

The game's changed a little bit. It used to be defend the bottom, now it's defend the top.

In the closing laps, we were all single file, I was leading, I wanted to see what would go on with the middle or bottom and not allow guys to set me up based on my lines. I ran the bottom and no one had a run or did anything. It was an interesting race.

Learned a lot through the course of the race with the new Gen‑6 car. At the end when it was time to go, I knew we had a straight racecar with no scratches on it. We worked real hard, we had a game plan down here every time. Even though we were in single‑car drafts, we had an agenda and things we worked on and made the car a little bit better each day, kept perfecting it. I had one heck of a racecar today.

Q:
Jimmie, I want to ask you about a side‑bar story that comes out of this race. Danica Patrick made history today being the first woman to ever lead a lap in the Daytona 500. What impressed you most about the way she ran this race and what do you think this does for the sport?

Jimmie Johnson:
Well, she's really comfortable in the car. Being close to other competitors, door‑to‑door, whatever environment takes place on the racetrack, at these speeds, she was very comfortable. Held a great wheel. Was smooth and predictable. Took advantage of runs when she had them. She did a really good job.

It was just another car on the track. I didn't think about it being Danica in the car. It was just another car on the track that was fast. That's a credit to her and the job she's doing.




Related Pictures

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Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 24, 2013 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, hoists the Harley J. Earl trophy after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 24, 2013 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, racing during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 24, 2013 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by John Harrelson/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Hendrick Motorsports` Jimmie Johnson (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Pro Services Chevrolet, leads Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 28, 2015 in Sonoma, California. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Great Clips Chevrolet, and Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, lead the field to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway on June 14, 2015 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Great Clips Chevrolet, and Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, lead the field to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway on June 14, 2015 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Cole Custer driver of the #00 Haas Automation Chevrolet poses for photos after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Drivin` for Linemen 200 at Gateway Motorsports Park on June 13, 2015 in Madison, Illinois.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jeff Curry/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Cole Custer driver of the #00 Haas Automation Chevrolet celebrates after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Drivin` for Linemen 200 at Gateway Motorsports Park on June 13, 2015 in Madison, Illinois.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jeff Curry/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Cole Custer driver of the #00 Haas Automation Chevrolet celebrates after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Drivin` for Linemen 200 at Gateway Motorsports Park on June 13, 2015 in Madison, Illinois.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jeff Curry/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Cole Custer of the #00 Haas Automation Chevrolet does a burn-out after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Drivin` for Linemen 200 at Gateway Motorsports Park on June 13, 2015 in Madison, Illinois.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Cole Custer of the #00 Haas Automation Chevrolet collects the chequered flag after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Drivin` for Linemen 200 at Gateway Motorsports Park on June 13, 2015 in Madison, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/NASCAR via Getty Images)
The green flag drops to start the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Drivin` for Linemen 200 at Gateway Motorsports Park on June 13, 2015 in Madison, Illinois.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, at NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Practice.  (Photo Credit: NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, at NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Practice.  (Photo Credit: NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, qualifies for the second position, Friday, June 12, 2015, for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. Harvick will be joined on the front row by Pole winner Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Great Clips Chevrolet SS. Harvick leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kasey Kahne driver of the #5 Great Clips Chevrolet SS, captures the Pole position, Friday, June 12, 2015, for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. Kahne will be joined on the front row with Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS. Kahne is eighth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kasey Kahne driver of the #5 Great Clips Chevrolet SS, captures the Pole position, Friday, June 12, 2015, for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. Kahne will be joined on the front row with Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS. Kahne is eighth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)

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