Q. Has it been any more, I guess, fulfilling, humbling, odd, what have you, having caught Jeff Gordon so fast, considering his impact on the early part of your career and the performance level he was at when you first got into the sport?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, it is humbling. I can remember looking at him with wide eyes, and it was like, “Wow, how did you do it? How do you get there?” And really coming to grips with it in my mind that there's no way I would ever do it. So to be here and to have the same amount of championships and the experience and all the success we've had and race wins, it's hard to believe. When I really think about it, it is really, really hard to believe that eight years ago, I was like, “Hey, man, can you help me win one?' And here we are with all this.
Q: This may be a tough question considering you're still in the middle of a run I'm sure you hope goes for quite a while. But do you have to reassess where you fit in the history of this sport? I mean, there's a certain number of iconic figures who people look at when they come in, and you're putting up numbers that are getting you in a smaller and smaller group of elites.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, it is getting smaller and smaller, which is awesome. It's tough for me to really reflect on it when I'm still competing. Toward the end of my career I'm sure I'll focus a lot more on it, but right now we're just kind of in a rhythm of things, and I hope to keep it going. There's no guarantee it will continue. But I'm just trying to keep the same mindset, same work ethic, same focus and just see how long we can keep this thing moving.
Q. Can you explain in some small way how your wife handles your job, with your life actually being on the line every time you jump into that car?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: You know, coming into the sport, I spent a lot of time showing her the safety aspects. It's as simple as showing her the fuel cell in the racecar and how it works, the seatbelts, the seat system, the head and neck device, a lot of different things.
And, since we've been together, the sport has changed a lot more with the new car that NASCAR has brought out and the level of safety that's incorporated into that. Soft walls, you know, there's been a lot of things that have made our sport much safer, and I thought it was pretty safe as it was before.
I'm sure there's an element of fear there, and I guess we don't talk about it too much. But she deals with it very, very well and understands the risks that I take. But, at the same time, we're in a pretty safe racecar today.
Q. Last year we spoke to you after the race at Homestead and you said, “Boy, me and my wife are just taking a nice vacation.” Well, now that this year, you've got four in a row. How are you going to beat last year's nice vacation?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: We're going to do the same stuff and relax, hopefully take another vacation, and just let it soak in. Truthfully, anymore we travel so much, I'd kind of like to be home, but unfortunately we have some stuff planned already. I just can' t wait. I'll be home for Thanksgiving. I can't wait to sit there and do nothing, maybe sit in my sweats all day long and fatten up.