Even the rain couldn't thwart Jimmie Johnson's bid to won his fourth Sprint All-Star Race on Saturday night. The most successful driver in NASCAR history talks about how he pulled it off, with the help of his inseparable crew chief Chad Knaus.
Our 2013 NASCAR Sprint All‑Star Race winner for the second consecutive year and the fourth time in his career, which is a record in NASCAR, four NASCAR Sprint All‑Star Race wins in 12 starts, Jimmie Johnson. He drives the #48 Lowe's Patriotic Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports. He's joined by his crew chief Chad Knaus. Congratulations to both of you. Jimmie becomes only the second driver to win consecutive all‑star races, joining the late Davey Allison, who did it from '91 to '92.
You got out that last segment and it was off to the races, but congratulations. How does it feel to win yet another All‑Star Race?
It's incredible, especially in the way we had to go about it tonight. I didn't do us any favors qualifying yesterday. With this average that we had through the first four segments, I was really fearful I wouldn't have a shot at a front‑row start or a second‑row start and I felt like the winner would come from one of those two rows. Not to state the obvious but that's really the goal from all of us is to try to be in that front row for the final restart.
Through a lot of aggressive driving, a great handling race car and a lot of different things, Chad's strategy at different times to have us on better tyres than some cars that were around us, we were able to keep clicking away at good finishes through the second, third and fourth segment. That got us to fourth and then pit road came around and our guys had awesome pit stop. And we were almost off pit road first, but we were on the front row and the front row is what we needed for 10 laps. Kasey and I pretty much ran wide open around here for two or three laps side by side and I was finally able to edge by him and have the track to myself and put some distance on him.
Chad that last pit stop, that mandatory four‑tyre, really the #48 team really showed its stuff there. Just talk about certainly it's an entire weekend, it's an entire process with the team and so forth, but certainly the driver outstanding, but what a job on pit road there that last time.
Yeah, absolutely. I was very proud of those guys. We knew what we needed to do on the racetrack to try to get ourselves in good position. We felt like that if we could come down in the top five and try to get a solid pit stop and maintain that that we would be solid. It's kind of our train of thought from last night. I really didn't think that we would be able to come down pit road and have a stop that fast, and man, those guys just absolutely nailed it. My hat's off to them. They've been working really, really hard trying to improve, and we've had to switch some things around during the course of the last month or so and the guys really rose to the occasion. I'm very, very proud of the effort from everybody at Hendrick Motorsports and everybody with the #48 team and what they've been able to accomplish over the course of the last few weeks to improve our pit stops.
Jimmie, you dominated here for a while and then kind of fell off a little bit and now you obviously seem like you're coming back. Did you lose the feel with the Car of Tomorrow that you're now getting back with this newer car, or was it an overall process, and for Chad, you mentioned the changes you've made. You've made some changes in the pit crew. How do you manage to keep the chemistry going when you have that much mix‑up on a team?
On the track, for me I really think it has to do with the new surface. When the track was rough and tyre wear was really high, there's just something that worked at this track for myself and for Chad. It really takes a combination of car and driver to match up. Rough tracks, tracks that have a high wear rate on the tyre, we both shine at those venues, and this track was that. As soon as they resurfaced it and put down this new blacktop that you can't ever wear a tyre out with, we were kind of more equal with guys and maybe a top five car, a top three car instead of just being a dominant car.