NASCAR » 04 November 2013
Jimmie Johnson and Chas Knaus, Hendrick Motorsport - Q&A
Yeah, well, we were here testing a couple weeks ago. We did realize there was a tyre issue. But that's not so unlike the norm. We have seen that in the past here, especially until the racetrack starts to get some rubber built up on to it that we do see tyre wear. We saw that while we were here testing. We really focused on the longer runs. 15, 20 lap runs here at the test to make sure we'd get the tyres to last as long as what we needed. Not so much worrying about the short run speed and the three, four, five laps.
Fortunately enough, what we were able to get from that is we were able to understand how to make the race car go fast at 20 laps, keep the tyres on it, and that actually translated back into a fast race car in the short run as well. So it definitely was difficult to go through all of that. And we didn't really have to change our strategy too much. We were very fortunate that as we were going through that, we knew there were going to be tyre problems. The key is to not be the first one with the tyre issue, and fortunately enough, we weren't.
What out-of-the-ordinary repairs did you have to make after yesterday's final practice, if any?
We didn't make a whole lot of changes. We felt like we had a pretty good understanding of what the racetrack was going to do based on what we saw last fall, based on what we saw in the spring with the new GEN-6 race car, and obviously taking into consideration what we saw during the test. We didn't have to do a whole lot. We made small modifications to the race car. And, man, I was really pleasantly pleased right out of the box. Jimmie was able to go out there and pass the #99 car with relative ease just a couple laps into the race. So we hit it pretty close.
When you guys win a race like this and you're battling somebody head-to-head, this doesn't shatter their confidence, but it's a pretty big blow. Do you think this will put some extra pressure on Matt and his team going to Phoenix and going to Homestead when you have this kind of dominance over them here at Texas?
I don't know. I'd like it to, but I don't. At this point of the season if you're in contention, you've got more pressure than you ever wanted to you. It's just there. So I don't know if this puts anymore. They were able to get some points on us last week. We got some on them this week, so I'm not sure.
But I know where we are and where our team is and our focus and how good of a test we had in Homestead, and we're very excited to get out to Phoenix and go racing again.
Chad, same question?
Yeah, you know, I don't know. That's going to be interesting to see. I think Matt's the strongest player on that team. I think he's the glue that holds that thing together, so we'll just have to see what happens. I feel if we stay focused on what we've got to do, then we'll let the chips fall where they may.
You when you all came here to practice, I was here the one day and it looked like you were doing everything that any of the other teams were attempting to do. Do you try to physically hide is the wrong word, but, nevertheless, hide what you're finding? How much did the fact that Kenseth blew a tyre on the second day of that test, how much did that help you get to where you needed to be?
I wouldn't say that we hid a whole lot. We came here with a plan and our plan was to try to understand this racetrack a little bit better. Try to know what we needed to do when we came back and what adjustments would yield a good result.
I know if I was the #20, and I came here and on my last day of testing I blew a right front tyre, I'd be nervous as hell coming back to a racetrack. So that had to have been looming over them. Quite honestly, based on what I saw at Homestead, they're probably pretty nervous about that same thing happening there. But we just came here and just did our thing. I think that's pretty classic #48. We worry about us and just kind of let everything else go the way it should.
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