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Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports - Q&A

Jimmie, can you try to explain, you said on the last lap you backed up to the people behind you, Junior said he backed up, Greg said he backed up. I thought the whole idea was to try to go forward.

Jimmie Johnson:
Well, the way our cars work, there's more help from someone pushing you than somebody towing you along. Been mentioned and talked a little bit about this week, the spring, some guys call it the beach ball effect. When the front bumper gets close to the rear bumper, there's bubble effect that shoots the car ahead. We learned over the years, if you ride the brake and help the car catching you break through that little bubble and make contact with you, there's more energy in that than the bubble effect.

Usually why we wreck is drag the brake, wait for contact, sometimes it's not in the right spot, maybe it's too hard, starts a wreck. But that's the game everybody plays.

I didn't pull back on the #16 at all. It seemed to me that everybody that's won down here, the leader was in pretty good shape. I was looking closely at the 16, waiting for him to come with a run. Then Earl said the #88 had the run. Last I looked, he was fourth or fifth. I thought that was great because he's probably going to stall out next to the #16, I was going to be up there all by myself in the lead and make it back.
He did have a big enough run to get by the #16, but I knew he didn't have enough closing rate to get by my side and do anything. I felt kind of good about things coming off of four.

Q:
Jimmie, about being under the radar. Usually in the old style of restrictor plate racing, there would be a harrowing moment or defining moment when you knew a guy was going to win or somebody had a dominant car leading into the weekend. It seemed like this weekend with the eradication of tandem drafting, everything in practice was limited. Today the racing seemed so different. Did you have a defining moment over the last week, or a time when you knew you could win this race, from 10 days ago to now?

Jimmie Johnson:
The rules package has the cars so close that it is tough to tell, even inside the racecars on the track. It was the Duel, I climbed out of the car, Chad [Knaus, #48 crew chief] and I debriefed afterward. I told him we didn't have much speed. He said, Man, from what I saw, you looked as good as anyone if not better. Chad and I in our relationship, I couldn't tell.

The same for yourself, you've been watching the sport a long time. The rules have the cars very close on speed. Throughout the week what I looked for was cars that could hang on to the draft. If they're the last car in line, didn't lose the draft, that was a fast car. That was one of the only indications I could consistently say was key. We found ourselves in that position a lot and never lost the draft.

For me the defining moment in the race was the caution coming out and the #48 being ahead of the #2. That gave me lane choice and really control of the race in the closing laps.

Q:
Jimmie, maybe I'm reaching on this, but there at the end of the race you're lining up against Brad. You lose the championship to him last year. Any extra motivation to go and get the 500 and beat him? Also, after going two years without winning a championship, to start a year with a Daytona 500 victory, are you able to take any ability to stick it to everybody and say, Hey, I'm back, I'm here, I'm coming back?

Jimmie Johnson:



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)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, races to an eighth place finish with third place finisher Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS Sunday, July 26, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS, races to a third place finish Sunday, July 26, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS, qualifies for sixth position Saturday, July 25, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Harvick leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s/Budweiser Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motorspeedway on July 24, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet, pulls out of the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motorspeedway on July 24, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo Credit: Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS, stops in his pit on his way to a third place finish Sunday, July 19, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s/Budweiser Chevrolet, leads Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 5-Hour ENERGY 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 19, 2015 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS, qualifies for seventh position Friday, July 17, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. Johnson is second in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Pro Services Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts at Kentucky Speedway on July 11, 2015 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo Credit: NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Pro Services Chevrolet SS races to a ninth place finish in front of Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AARP Member Advantages Chevrolet SS, who finishes in seventh place Saturday, July 11, 2015, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, finishes in eighth place Saturday, July 11, 2015, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #Lowe`s Pro Services Chevrolet SS, qualifies for sixth position, Friday, July 10, 2015, for Saturday night`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Kentucky. Positions are based on practice times since the qualifying session was cancelled due to inclement weather. Johnson is third in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt Jr, driver of the #88 Nationwide Stars And Stripes Chevrolet SS, takes the chequered flag, Sunday July 5, 2015, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. Following in second place is Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Patriotic Chevrolet SS. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt Jr, driver of the #88 Nationwide Stars And Stripes Chevrolet SS, takes the chequered flag, Sunday July 5, 2015, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)

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