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April 11, 2015

Jimmie Johnson

Chad Knaus


LOUIS MORA:テつ We're going to continue with our post‑race press conference.テつ We're now joined by the winning crew chief of tonight's Duck Commander 500, Chad Knaus.テつ This is the team's fifth win at Texas Motor Speedway, the seventh for Hendrick Motorsports here at Texas Motor Speedway.テつ If you could talk about that late surge that Jimmie had in the race and then what you guys have found here that's made you so successful at Texas.
CHAD KNAUS:テつ Yeah, you know, as far as how we perform here at Texas, I think it's‑‑ this is a racetrack that definitely falls into Jimmie's liking.テつ It's a track that you've got to be able to as a driver to search and try to find a different line.テつ Obviously 500 miles here there's a huge swing in track conditions, and I think with the way that Jimmie is able to describe what he's feeling in the race car and with what our guys are able to do from our engineering standpoint, being able to keep up with the racetrack and adjust to the racetrack and try to get the car better throughout the course of 334 laps around here.テつ It's a good race for us.テつ It's a lot of fun.テつ We like coming out here.テつ Obviously it's cool to see the confetti and the fireworks and all that stuff.
As far as the race, it went really well.テつ We were very happy and very pleased with the tempo and how things were going, pit stops were solid, all was working well two thirds of the way through the event and then we had that caution after a short run and that kind of mixed up everything.テつ I opted to pit from the lead.テつ That was probably a mistake at that point.テつ Kind of got stuck in traffic but then we were fortunate enough to get a couple quick cautions shortly after that and we were able to adjust to the race car and make it better in traffic and Jimmie as able to drive up there, and we did a great job.テつ That's it.

Q.テつ Fifth win here, but first I think in the spring race.テつ Is there anything about the spring race and fall race that are different?
CHAD KNAUS:テつ You know, not‑‑ I don't know, do we always race at night in the spring?

Q.テつ No, not last year.テつ Last year we raced on Sunday because of the conflict with the Final Four.
CHAD KNAUS:テつ No, I think that it's just circumstances.テつ We've ran very, very well here in the spring race.テつ I looked back over my notes and saw all that.テつ I think it was just circumstances that we hadn't been able to pull it off here in the spring previously.テつ Yeah, I don't think there's anything specific that stands out, sorry.

Q.テつ I don't know if you guys had any loose lugs tonight, but seemed like at the beginning of the season we were going through the media tour and everything and NASCAR announced that they weren't going to police the lug nuts, a lot of people were thinking crew chiefs were going to gamble and put three or four on there.テつ It hasn't seemed to be the case through the first races of the year.テつ Is it just too dangerous out there to do that?
CHAD KNAUS:テつ Well, there's definitely teams out there that aren't hitting all five lug nuts.テつ We know that.テつ We all see that, but you've got to be able to get some tight.テつ That's the key.テつ We work off the conservative standpoint with the 48 car.
Did you guys hear that?テつ It wasn't in my head, right?テつ Wow.テつ I thought Tony just walked in.
But we work from a conservative standpoint and we go after four.テつ These guys, they're really fast.テつ Our guys on the 48 team are doing a really great job right now.テつ We've had some fantastic pit stops.テつ They're turning high‑11 pit stops doing what it is they need to do.テつ There's some guys out there that are‑‑ yeah, I think that there are some guys taking advantage of that.テつ But look, I'm going to be straight with you.テつ NASCAR shouldn't be policing that.テつ That's not their job.テつ They shouldn't be telling us how much camber to run.テつ They shouldn't be telling us anything like that.テつ They should just be focusing on what's within the guidelines and what isn't.テつ So I think it's all working out well.

Q.テつ I mean, you guys and the 4 have won, I think, like the last six mile‑and‑a‑half races now, dating back to I think Charlotte.

Q.テつ Does anybody not in Hendrick equipment have something for you at these tracks?
CHAD KNAUS:テつ I hope not.テつ Yeah, I wouldn't say that.テつ You go back and you look at the performance of the 22, Kentucky last year, they were very, very strong.テつ I think Brad has been super solid.テつ I think you're going to see these Pontiacs‑‑ Pontiacs‑‑ that shows my age here a little bit.テつ These Toyotas come up here pretty soon, so I think you're going to see a shift.テつ I can tell you from my standpoint and what we're doing at Hendrick Motorsports within our group, we've got a full‑court press on right now to get our performance where we feel like it needs to be, and we're not even close to where I want to be yet.

Q.テつ Those other teams don't feel like (No microphone.)
CHAD KNAUS:テつ They may feel like they're pretty far off, but man, there's only a whisper away from what's good and what's bad anymore.テつ The days of having an advantage to where you're two, three tenths faster than somebody consistently is really difficult to maintain, the restrictions that NASCAR puts on us right now.テつ You watch qualifying, how close it is, how close the times are.テつ It only takes a little bit of something to get everybody where they need to be.テつ I'd much rather see the field spread out more, and I think that's better, but we're not quite there yet.

Q.テつ We've heard you and Jimmie on the radio before.テつ Tonight when he got up front early, there was some interesting conversations.テつ Was he not following a strategy that you were thinking?テつ Was he kind of getting out there?
CHAD KNAUS:テつ I don't know.

Q.テつ What was the plan with that?
CHAD KNAUS:テつ I don't know.テつ What did I say?テつ Did I piss him off?

Q.テつ Yeah, you did.
CHAD KNAUS:テつ Yeah, it happens.テつ I don't remember what it was.テつ That was four hours ago, man.テつ I don't know.

Q.テつ Was there a plan that‑‑
CHAD KNAUS:テつ Oh, I remember what you're talking about now.テつ Yeah, I was just shocked.テつ He had committed to the bottom of the racetrack.テつ The 4 car had jumped up to the top about eight laps into a run, and Jimmie stayed at the bottom.テつ I asked him, why did you stay on the bottom, and he just felt like it was too early to go up there and defend and start blocking the 4, so he was being a gentleman racer.テつ I wasn't really worried about him being a gentleman racer, but I was just like, well, I think you'd be faster if you moved up top, so that's what I was talking about at that point in time, yeah.

Q.テつ I know you guys sometimes make fun of us for wondering if you guys are in a slump or whatever, but kind of from your comments, obviously Vegas you guys ran well until you had the tire issue, but Auto Club didn't look that‑‑
CHAD KNAUS:テつ We were in Fontana.

Q.テつ Are you concerned at all about your intermediate program coming into here?
CHAD KNAUS:テつ I had a lot of confidence coming into Texas based off of where we had been in Fontana, where we were in Las Vegas and where we were in Atlanta.テつ I did.テつ I felt like we were going to be okay.テつ You know, we did‑‑ we've done a lot of hard work, and I felt like we were going to be okay.テつ Our intermediate program, again, it's probably as good as it's been in the last year.テつ We're making huge, huge gains, but we need to be a lot better yet.テつ I was talking with Mr.Hendrick yesterday and unfortunately, I wish he could have been here tonight.テつ He had to get back to Charlotte to do some deals HAG, but we've got to press hard to get to where we need to be, where the 48 was a few years ago, and with the rules and the guidelines that they've put out there right now, it's definitely to do.

Q.テつ (No microphone.).
CHAD KNAUS:テつ No, not really worried about the 4.テつ I'm worried about the field in general.テつ He's just a part of the mass that we're trying to stay ahead of, or be ahead of I guess I should say.テつ Qualifying, you see some very, very strong efforts from the Penske guys, you see the 4 car, and actually a lot of the Stewart‑Haas cars here this weekend were really fast in qualifying.テつ We've got to do a better job of leapfrogging those guys.テつ If we're two, three tenths behind the 2 and the 22 and a couple of those other guys, we've got to figure out how to ellipse that.テつ We have to get that two tenths and then we have to be two tenths ahead of them, and so we've got a long ways to go.

Q.テつ Chad, I guess many people would say Martinsville was very uncharacteristic for the 48 team.テつ Tonight looked very‑‑ compared to your recent performances, a really typically dominant performance by the 48 team on a track that you've done really well.テつ On paper it would look like night and day between the two weekends.テつ I wonder how you would characterize the last two races.
CHAD KNAUS:テつ How did we qualify in Martinsville?テつ Fifth, right?テつ Yeah, so actually Martinsville, I thought it went really smooth.テつ We had a really solid Friday.テつ We had a really good Saturday.テつ We started the race, the car wasn't exactly how we wanted it to be, but we had a mechanical problem, and when you have a mechanical problem like that, then it's difficult to overcome.
We've had some really, really atrocious starts in Martinsville and made some good changes once the track comes to us, and actually won.テつ To have a mechanical the first 100 laps of a 500‑lap race it's kind of difficult to make something like that happen.テつ It wasn't like we raced 35th, you know what I mean?テつ We would have been pretty good, I think, last week.テつ But this week was great, man.テつ It was fantastic.テつ Jimmie came in, he was ready to go.テつ He was energized.テつ The guys came in ready to go and energized.テつ A weekend off I think was good for everybody in the industry, and we came in here on our tiptoes and we're ready to go.
LOUIS MORA:テつ We're joined by our winner of tonight's Duck Commander 500, Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Pro Services Chevrolet.テつ It's his fifth career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win here at Texas Motor Speedway, most by any driver.テつ It's his 72nd win of his career.テつ Your first win in the Duck Commander 500.テつ Talk about that late push there at the end and just the success that you found here at Texas Motor Speedway.
JIMMIE JOHNSON:テつ Yeah, I think that the end of the race was nutty.テつ I think those last three restarts with the varying tire strategies that were going on, everybody was just driving so hard.テつ Our car didn't handle like it was when we were up front leading, so the first restart we were pretty concerned and made some changes.テつ The second one we got a little better.テつ The third one, our car was really, really good and able to work our way forward.
Unfortunately the 4 was having some trouble getting by the 1, and they slid up high through 3 and 4 and left the bottom wide open for me, and I thought I'd at least get the 4 car, and when I came off of Turn 4, I was alongside the 1, and I thought, man, we're going to get them both here.テつ So that worked out well.テつ And then I thought I had it under control.テつ 88 had something working on the bottom, so I got the bottom sorted out and then the 4 was flying around the top and started working on my line around the top, and I looked up in the mirror and I saw smoke and sparks and figured that was the end of the 4 and the next straightway I saw him door to door with the 88 still going at it.テつ Just a fun race.テつ I hope everybody enjoyed it.テつ I know from where I was sitting and the competitors, tonight was a very good night for our sport, a lot of great racing.テつ The surface of this racetrack really allows that all to happen, and we're happy that we're able to come out here and put on a great show.

Q.テつ Jimmie, were you aware that Harvick thought you were blocking in the late stages of the race, and he threatened to do to you what he did to the 22 earlier in that run?
JIMMIE JOHNSON:テつ No, I didn't know, but I certainly ran the line that he wanted, so blocking, sure, you can call it whatever it is.テつ There were numerous times earlier in the race that I just pulled down and let him go and didn't run his line, but for a race win I'm going to run whatever line I need to to try to win the race.
It's unfortunate that he's upset like that, but when it comes time to win a race, you've got to do what you've got to do.

Q.テつ Jimmie, what is it about Atlanta and Texas that kind of makes it kind of your type of track?
JIMMIE JOHNSON:テつ I think the tracks with high wear, bumps, all those types of things, have just always been a good surface for the 48.テつ You think back to the old Charlotte racetrack, the old Pocono, even the new Pocono has turned out pretty well for us.テつ You go through the older racetracks, I think you can see some type of‑‑ there's some statistics there that would support my thought that we just do better on those kinds of tracks.
Atlanta has seemed to have maybe slipped away from us a little bit until the last trip or two there where we've got it back where we need it, but Texas has just kind of grown for us.テつ The spring race has always been tough results‑wise, but we've had fast cars, and in the fall we come here and get the finish we hope for.テつ It's nice to get one done in the spring.テつ I think the surface fits my style, fits Chad's, what our team does together.テつ Our cars just perform well on those tracks.

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