NASCAR » 04 November 2013
Jimmie Johnson and Chas Knaus, Hendrick Motorsport - Q&A
The slow pit stop that left you fifth on that cycle, was there any worry that losing your track position would cost you or that you wouldn't be able to rally from that even with a good car?
Yeah, I knew we were going to lose some time. I thought if I had a big enough lead I'd be all right and still come out first or second. But I guess those guys pitted laps before we did and made up more time on track than what we lost on pit road, and that became more evident to me as I was getting through them pretty quick.
So I got to second pretty quick, and just as I got by Brad, the caution came out, so that was a challenging point in the race for me. And it was nice to have it because I realised how good of a car we had and got a little experience passing some cars and got an idea if we did lose track position, the adjustment we needed to make.
Jimmie and Chad, a year ago you left here up seven. I'm curious do you feel any better about this year or worse about this year on how you're doing and also considering Kenseth and the competition?
Yeah, I mean, we learn lessons each and every year. I know when I go to Phoenix the balance of the car and what I had felt last year led to a blown right front tyre. So we'll show up there and make sure that from my standpoint and what I feel and what Chad sees with tyre pressures and temps and the overall balance of the car that we don't overwork that right front tyre.
I feel better about Phoenix, honestly, than I did last year leaving here. Then last year we did not test Homestead and we just came back from Homestead, and that test went really well. So I'm optimistic. I feel good. But, man, it's so weird because I've been in position before where I've had these amazing sensations and feelings that a championship was going to happen, and we were able to do it for those five years in a row.
There were other years where I had those feelings, and it didn't happen. I think 2004, we had everything going our way it seemed like, and it didn't happen. Last year was another good example of us taking control late in the Chase, and then that ended with two bad races.
I guess the lesson in all of that is I'm not counting on anything, and I have to go to Phoenix and race, same as Homestead. It does simplify things a little bit. I'm not going to get too excited about things during the course of the week. I'm going to work real hard and train my butt off. Stay in this little world that I've been living in for the last five or six months, but more so the last eight weeks, and show up ready to go these next two weeks.
Do you feel any different being seven points ahead this year compared to last year based on how you're doing? And the fact that you're facing this with a guy who has won the title before?
No, I don't think there is a big difference. I think you guys have seen it time and time again. We really focus on what it is we need to do. We can all say that Phoenix was the culprit last year why we didn't win the championship. The fact of the matter is we had a mechanical problem at Homestead that took us out of it. If we had won Phoenix and went to Homestead and still had a mechanical problem, we'd have lost the championship.
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