Jimmie Johnson blew away the competition at Texas Motor Speedway and made it look as though his anointing with a sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship is just a formality. That's not the case, Johnson insisted as he discussed Sunday's race and its consequences with the media, accompanied by the crew chief of the winning #48 car Chad Knaus.
We're joined by the winner of tonight's AAA Texas 500, Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet. You become the first driver to win consecutive fall events at the Texas Motor Speedway and are now tied with Carl Edwards for the most Sprint Cup series at TMS with three; for the fourth time in your career you scored a perfect 150 driver rating, led a race high 255 laps, and more importantly, you now have a seven-point lead going into the final two races in the season. Talk about just the dominating performance you had tonight?
That was a great, great race car. We're really buttoned up, which is the cool thing. We came here and tested. After two days we really honed in on the balance of the car and comfort of the car. We felt really strong about things, but at the same time we're here testing, as are all of our competitors were as well. So it was tough to leave here overly excited because your competition is here getting better and getting data and all of that as well.
So we came back and just kept our blinders on and focused on our team, our race car and got the thing pretty dang awesome.
There were a couple moments in the race where we had to work on the car from a balance standpoint. There was one cycle of pit stops that came out fourth or fifth and had to drive back through those guys. Just got the lead from Brad before the caution came out, so there were a couple of tense moments in there. But when you have a dominant car, it is so stressful because you're just waiting for that thing that can get you, whatever it is. So it was nice to keep a - Chad said it once on the radio, just keep a positive mindset here, and things are going to work out. We did that. We stayed focused and got the job done.
We also have winning crew chief Chad Knaus. Chad, you all tested after Talladega here. Talk about how pivotal that test was in tonight's performance.
I'm trying to figure out this hat. It's supposed to be - I don't even know how it's supposed to be. It was a great test. It was difficult for sure. NASCAR allowed us four tests per organisation to do, and you've got to take all of your teammates there. So when we first came out here after Charlotte, unfortunately, it rained, and we had to make a pretty difficult decision for everybody to go back to Charlotte before Talladega. Get our Talladega stuff prepared, go to Talladega and race, and then come back out here the next week.
I think it was very beneficial for us. We were able to really kind of break down what the race car was doing. Jimmie was able to go out there and kind of explore a little bit and find the nuances of the racetrack in kind of a more calm environment. I think it paid huge dividends for us from a lot of different levels, and it was good.
Eddie had to be patient with us as we were trying to get him to put the Jet Dryers out there the day that it was raining, and pretty much jet fuelled up, and he did the best to allow us to stay, but we had to come back a week later. It was difficult.
Chad, we had during this race a couple of troubles with other drivers, including with tyres. When you saw that, did you modify or change your strategy for Jimmie's race? And question number two: During the test earlier, did you figure out that maybe the tyres would be a critical factor?