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

Jimmie, most of the guys we talked to on pit road afterwards said they knew if they weren't in the top two coming off of pit road that the race was over for them. Did you have that same sense, that you were - that if you could get a good restart that nobody was going to pass anybody?

Jimmie Johnson:
Yeah, and that's the way it is on these fast tracks any time. If you look at any mile‑and‑a ‑half, two‑mile track, first couple laps when everybody is on stickers, you're going to have that. In this format I think it lends - headed that direction some, too, because you're required to come down and put four tyres on, so the front row was going to have an advantage. We've seen that here for a long time, and when we look back to last year and the strategy we used, we knew we needed to win the first segment which would put us up front on the start for the final segment, and we were able to take advantage of that. We all knew it going into it and that's why I was really - I don't want to say I counted myself out, but starting 20th or 23rd or whatever we were, it wasn't good. The way this average worked out I knew I wouldn't have a shot at the front row unless I really made something happen in the first segment, and I had trouble early in the first segment. Brad had an issue in front of us and it was tough to get by guys, but second and third and fourth segment, we were able to make some stuff happen and put us in position for a good pit stop.

Q:
Y'all have won this thing under four different formats. Are y'all to the point now where you're thinking there's nothing they can do, there's no format, there's no rules, there's no gimmick they can do that we can't figure out? Have y'all reached that point out?

Jimmie Johnson:
No, we just get lucky, man. That's what people say. There's no talent involved, we just got lucky tonight.

Q:
Chad, you guys talk about learning from this race for the next race. Can we look at you guys tonight and say the car was this good tonight; it should be this good next week? How does it translate that this race is so much shorter than what we're going to see next Sunday?

Chad Knaus:
That's really a good question. It's a lot different. When you're trying to set up a car for a 20‑lap run, when you know, it's like other professional sports, this race is right? You know when the cautions are coming, you know when the breaks are going to happen brakes you know the format. You can kind of sit back and kind of strategize and understand what's going to happen. In a normal race, we have no idea what's going to happen. We don't know when the quarters are going to come, we don't know when the thirds are going to come, we don't have a two‑minute warning. So having a fast car clearly and having fast pit stops makes a huge difference. So if we can take and translate what we had in this race car this evening and bring that next week, I think we'll have a good shot at it. But the setups are completely different because you can't - you can go between 50 and 56 laps on a fuel run let's say. Well, tonight we only went 20 laps. You may have had a break, but you knew when that break was coming so if you got yourself into a position where you were running hard and you were leading or running third, you could pull back and save your tyres a little bit.

Next Sunday night you can't do that. You're going to have to run hard the whole time, so it's a completely different setup.

Q:
Jimmie, earlier in the week you said this format had a potential to be a follow the leader and whoever got out front early in the last segment was going to pretty much win. It pretty much played out the way you thought. This is a tough question for the guy who just won, but I'm sure they're going to be looking again at a format change because they've only had one pass for the lead in the last five laps at this place in this event one time in the last eight races. Is there anything that you can see that might engender more excitement in the last segment?

Jimmie Johnson:
When it's 10 laps, it's so tough at these speeds. I really don't know what to do at that point. I felt like the four segments beforehand there's a lot of coming and going, guys on different strategies that made for some exciting racing. Where I was I had to pass guys all night long so it was really exciting for me for the first four segments. When you get to that last segment on a track like this, maybe if you weren't required to do four, but everybody is going to - it's impossible because if it's a 10‑lap shootout and you're allowed to put two on, you're going to put two on. Why would you put four on? Everybody's going to do the same thing. I think you're pinned in on a mile‑and‑a‑half track with a 10‑lap shootout; your options are limited to create multiple passes for the win.

Chad Knaus:
I think there's a great idea, seriously. I think that coming here we're allowed to have 11 sets of tyres. I think that the amount of tyres that we get, half of them should be super softs and the other half should be normal and that gives you an opportunity to try to do your tyre strategy. Once you have super softs, you know they're only going to last 20 laps as opposed to the set that's going to last 60 laps like we're going to run here on a typical weekend. You can strategize, use that. When those tyres fall off, that's when you're going to start to see some passing, and in a 20‑lap or 10‑lap segment I think it could be very exciting to see who plays the tyre strategy.

I don't foresee it because Goodyear is in a tough spot. They have to build a tyre that's going to last. I'm just saying it would make it exciting, because the only way you're going to get passing is to have tyre falloff like we have at Atlanta, like we have maybe at Texas when the tyres start to fall off. That's the only time that you're going to get it.

Q:
Jimmie, probably unbeknownst to you, but the graphic going into the last pit stop the TV showed was wrong and it said that you should have gone on to pit road like 11th or something like that. Naturally there's a raging controversy that you cheated.

Jimmie Johnson:
Of course, and I'm lucky. Awesome.

Q:



Related Pictures

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