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Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus, Hendrick Motorsports - Q&A

Five-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson and his Hendrick Motorsports crew chief Chad Knaus talk about winning the 2013 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race.
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.

Q:
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?

Jimmie Johnson:
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.

Q:
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.

Chad Knaus:
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.

Q:
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?

Jimmie Johnson:
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.




Related Pictures

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Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Patriotic Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 17, 2013 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Brian Scott. (Picture Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS, holds his daughter, Lydia Sunday, November 22, 2015 before final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Johnson and other Jeff Gordon teammates at Hendrick Motorsports wore tribute hats to honor the retiring Chevy driver prior to the start of the race. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, races to a sixth place finish Sunday, November 22, 2015 in the final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Gordon finishes third in the Chase for the Cup Championship. This was Gordon`s last race as a NASCAR Sprint Cup driver. He has made 796 consecutive Cup Series starts, earned 93 wins, and 81 poles - all behind the wheel of Chevrolets. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Defending Sprint Cup Champion Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, races to a second place finish, Sunday, November 22, 2015 in the final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Harvick finishes as the runner-up in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Defending Sprint Cup Champion Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, races to a second place finish, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS finishes in sixth place, and Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision finishes in twelfth place Sunday, November 22, 2015 in the final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. This Chevrolet drivers finished 2nd, 3rd and 4th (respectively) in the Chase of the Cup Championship. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Racing Team battled back from a bad re-start after the first caution of the race to finish 17th in the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. (Photo Credit: Campbell Marketing)
Series championship contenders Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AXALTA Chevrolet, Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, take part in pre-race ceremonies for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Former racing driver Mario Andretti, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AXALTA Chevrolet, and Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton pose during pre-race ceremonies for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AXALTA Chevrolet, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
A general view as cars pit during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AXALTA Chevrolet, and Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, celebrates winning the series championship and the race with a burnout after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, celebrates winning the series championship and the race in Victory Lane after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, celebrates winning the series championship and the race with his team after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, celebrates with the trophy in Victory Lane after winning the series championship and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

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