Q: Jimmie, coming into the Chase this year, four-time defending champion, it seemed like after the first race a lot of people were counting you out. Is this a statement victory for you as early as it is in the Chase?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: I'm not so concerned with statements. At the end of the day, I'm just concerned about where I am in the points, what the deficit is. If we're fortunate to get on top, how big that gap is, what we need to do to be champions. A lot of that other stuff, if it's in your brain, you're not thinking about the right thing.
For me, what people want to read into, what they want to think about today's performance, that's fine. We're moving on. We have to go to Kansas and do the job again. There's eight races left in this thing. We want to win this championship. We want to win five in a row. It's within our race shop. These guys on the 48 team, we need to buckle down, get better in some areas. Today we did win, but we need to be stronger moving forward. We got to go home and get better.
Q: You mentioned in Victory Lane, I know it doesn't look like I'm emotional now. You seem almost matter of fact, that this was business. Am I getting this wrong? Didn't seem to have that overflow of emotion.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, you know, I don't know how to describe it. We want to win this championship. And, yes, today was a big victory, hopefully a step toward the championship. But it's not the prize we want.
Today we got maximum points. I am very proud of that internally. But it's not time to celebrate. If we take this week off and take it lightly, not prepare like we need to for Kansas, we'll get beat. We can't get beat. We've got to win races and keep this momentum going.
At the end of the year, if we're fortunate to win the championship, I'll be the guy with the biggest smile, be the guy who's hung over more than anyone come Monday morning. It's just right now it's time to buckle down and time to be working on stuff.
Q: Jimmie, you've won three out of your last four starts at Dover, six out of 18. I'm sure you don't want to share it, but what's your secret?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: It's just a good track for me. It was no surprise to see the 18 coming up toward the front at the end. I know this is a great track for him, too. There's a certain rhythm to this racetrack that works. The 43 has figured it out and knows that rhythm now. The 31, he's always been decent here, but he's really figuring this place out, the rhythm it takes.
Even though it is a big track, you wouldn't think rhythm. There is a very unique rhythm to driving this track. It's just suited my style since I've been in a car. I go back to when I ran my first race here in ASA in '98, won the pole, led most laps. Unfortunately, blew a tire late in the race. Always, always loved this track.
Q: Jimmie, just curious as to why you chose to do the burnout at the end of pit road instead of the front stretch like you usually do.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: The front straightaway is so banked you can't really do a good doughnut. With my guys being at the end of the pit road, I was first going to come down and nose the car into the wall, do a burnout in front of them. That angle is so steep, I thought, I'll damage the car. That's all we need to hear about next week, how the 48 nosed it in, did damage to the car. I didn't want to deal with that.
I saw a flat area by my pit box. Was just doing doughnuts and saying "Hey" to my boys as I was doing doughnuts spinning out. I was more than anything looking for a good flat spot to do a good burnout.
Q: Can you say what you've learned as far as the Chase in the first two races or do you not learn anything until the mile-and-a-half's?
CHAD KNAUS: I feel good about it. If you go back and look at our performance in Chicago, we qualified respectable. We led a good portion of that race. I think if you go back and you look at how we ran at Charlotte Motor Speedway, we ran very competitive there. We basically took ourselves out of both of those races.
I think leading into that with Kansas being very similar to Chicago, looking forward to it. I think the performance we had in Atlanta was definitely a direction that you can see where we're headed toward going into Charlotte Motor Speedway, Homestead, and definitely Fontana, we're always excited to go there. We obviously won there in the spring.
I think our big-track stuff is pretty close. We're excited about it. We know we're never as good as what we want to be. We're definitely going to be continuing to work on it, trying to improve our product, but I'm looking forward to it, definitely.
Q: Jimmie, the fact that Kyle Busch took the lead for a little bit and faded, the fact you didn't have to fight him to the finish, was that a relief to you or did you feel he was in the Chase with you, would you have pushed your car for the victory?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, definitely would push for the victory. Anytime you see Kyle, no matter what series you're in, if he's coming, if you're up front and that 18 is there, you've got your hands full. There's no way around it. The guy can drive a racecar. Love him or hate him, he can get the job done and I have a lot of respect for what he can do in a racecar.
I wasn't taking it lightly when I knew he was in second, then the restart when he was in the lead, trying to run him back down. I had to do everything I could to get back by him. He's a lot smarter this year. He's going down there at the end of this thing fighting for it.
Q: Chad led into what I was going to ask. Maybe you can expound on it. How good you feel with these coming races. You've won 30 percent of the Chase races, 19 of the 62 since this format. Can you talk about your confidence level. 30 percent is quite a percentage.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, we're kind of taken aback by it, as well. We've had slow summers in the past. We had a slow summer this year. We've at least been able to get into the Chase. We sit back and shake our heads about the success the team has late in the season.
The tracks in the schedule kind of work for us. Even though the tracks work for us, I think the pressure that comes with the championship battle is something that we embrace. I mean, it's not a comfortable 10 weeks. You lose a lot of sleep. There's a lot of frustrating moments. But for whatever reason, it's a good pressure for us and we do well.
Proud of the last four years. Proud of where we are today. Regardless of where we end up, I know this 48 team is all in and we're going to give it a 100 percent. We'll be proud of wherever we finish at the end of the year. Q:
We all know that staying on top in sports is one of the toughest things. You've done it for four years. How do you keep the team motivated? How do you do this?
CHAD KNAUS: Basically, I think a lot of it has to do with simply making sure you get the right people on the team. Jimmie is very easily self-motivated, obviously with some prodding from me, goes a long ways, and vice versa. Jimmie and I, I think we do a good job of keeping each other in check on a consistent basis.
From the foundation of the team, we work hard making sure we have guys who work at Hendrick Motorsports and within the 48 team who are kind of self-motivators, guys who, when there is a mistake or flaw, they take it upon themselves to try to improve, correct whatever misfortune you may have had. When you have guys who basically want to go out there and do the best they can, try to win every single race, motivation just kind of comes and you don't have to try to fish for it or try to instill it in people.
We work hard to make sure we have the right people on the team. I think we do. We're not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. I can promise you, if something goes wrong, something falls short of what their goal is, there's nobody who feels worse than what that individual does. To try to motivate from that point is unnecessary when you've got guys like that.