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NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES: GEICO 500


May 3, 2015


Ryan Blaney

Jimmie Johnson


LINCOLN, ALABAMA

THE MODERATOR:テつ We'll roll into our post race media availability.テつ We've been joined by our second‑place finisher, Jimmie Johnson.テつ We're also joined by Ryan Blaney.
Jimmie, we'll start with you.テつ A solid second‑place finish.テつ Walk us through the last laps there.テつ They appeared to be very intense on TV.
JIMMIE JOHNSON:テつ I mean, you work all day long to be in that position.テつ You just frankly don't want to mess it up.テつ With everybody running the top, over the years of having that situation at the end, being aggressive has bit me many times.テつ I was trying to be as patient as I possibly could.
The only real control I had to win the race was to make a move off of four or come into the tri‑oval.テつ I knew that was my only opportunity.テつ Then I also knew there was no chance that the guys behind me were going to wait that long.
We did break away.テつ We had a seven‑ or eight‑car breakaway, a pretty good gap to the next group.テつ I think our small breakaway, there wasn't a lot of energy in that group to create a pass for the lead.
So Denny found a way around the 21.テつ That was really all the energy that the lanes had.テつ When that happened, we lost kind of our momentum on that last lap and Junior had things under control, in my opinion.
Very happy with the finish.テつ I didn't mess it up.テつ I don't know what I could have done differently to win.テつ Certainly tried.テつ I'm just really happy I didn't screw it up because I've done that plenty of times coming down to the finish.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Ryan, incredible run for your team.テつ Talk about your run today.
RYAN BLANEY:テつ We had a good car all day.テつ We had speed in qualifying.テつ We got to run up front a little bit during the day, got shoved back a few times.テつ We were able to work our way back up through there.テつ I learned a little bit throughout the race kind of what to do to get back to the front.
We really just kind of were lucky to be in that position towards the end of the race.テつ I think we made a couple good moves about three quarters of the way through.テつ Guys started to go with us a little bit more.テつ Luckily the moves we were making worked out to where guys trust you a little bit more.テつ That helped us get in the right spot for the end of the race.
I knew Denny was going to make a move.テつ I thought he was going to do it later than what he did.テつ I didn't think he had a big enough run to get to us, pull out and pass us.テつ Luckily Sam Hornish took me up there on the front stretch and we were able to get back up through there.
Not a bad day after blowing up Atlanta, Daytona and Texas, it's nice to get a good finish.
THE MODERATOR:テつ We'll go ahead and take questions for Jimmie or Ryan.

Q.テつ What about the lack of formation of a second line over the past four or five, six laps?テつ You didn't really pull out.テつ Almost nobody did back to 15th or 20th.テつ What was going on?
JIMMIE JOHNSON:テつ I don't know why it happens that way.テつ For the first couple cars, you're relatively content.テつ But if you're back further, it's so frustrating.
I think the 19 pulled down and started some kind of lane.テつ Everybody just took his spot on the outside.テつ I don't know what creates that in the drivers' minds that says, Okay, we're all going to ride at the top.テつ Anybody that pulls out, you just fill his spot and he drops.
It's weird.テつ It doesn't happen every time, but it does happen every now and then.テつ Today was one of those days.

Q.テつ Ryan, what was going through your head riding single file?テつ Were you more concerned about the guys behind you or were you formulating a way to try to get by Jimmie and Junior?
RYAN BLANEY:テつ I was really more focused on Denny.テつ I knew he was going to make a move eventually.テつ I was just trying to see if he was laying back trying to get a run.テつ I just didn't know when that was going to happen.テつ I figured it was going to be one or two to go.テつ That's all I was concerned about, trying to look in the mirror, make sure you didn't get left out, which we did unfortunately.
That's really the only thing, try to stay in front of the guy when he makes that move.テつ If I make it by myself, no one's going to go with me.テつ Just fill the hole.テつ I was at Denny's mercy right there but we were a little late to run in front of him.

Q.テつ Is it just safer to maintain that single‑file run or is it more of a situation of watching what the tempo does with the race before you decide what you're going to do or who is going to pull out or if you feel comfortable enough to go with them?
JIMMIE JOHNSON:テつ It's not safety like I'm going to crash, get hurt, so I don't want to make that move.テつ It protects your running order.テつ If you're in 10th and you pull out, I don't know how many cars are on the lead lap, everybody is nose to tail, so you finish 10th and take a 30th or something.
It's more about preserving where you're running.テつ The fact that the amount of numbers in that lane makes that lane successful, when there's 43 nose to tail, you can't pull out unless there's quite a few that are going to go with you.
I think it's more about preserving your running order.テつ You almost have to throw the mindset out of advancing and not go backwards is kind of what happens, I think.

Q.テつ Ryan, the two Hendrick cars, the 88 and the 48, they were first and second.テつ If you pulled out, you know the 48 wasn't going to go with you.テつ Did you have anybody else in mind?
RYAN BLANEY:テつ Kind of what Jimmie said in the previous question.テつ You're protecting your running position.テつ If you go too soon, no one's really going to go with you.テつ There was maybe a 10% chance Denny would have gone with me.テつ That might have dragged more guys.
It was going to be tough to do that and get a big enough run to get by Jimmie, one, and Dale is a whole 'nother story because he can just block you to the lane.
I didn't think anybody was going to go with me.テつ I was kind of at the mercy of what he did there.
JIMMIE JOHNSON:テつ If he pulled down, I would have pulled down with the 88.テつ I want to win a race (laughter).

Q.テつ Can you describe the atmosphere after the race was over, what it meant to Dale, all these fans.テつ This is probably the fullest we've seen these grandstands here in years and years.テつ Just the raw emotion that you saw out there.
JIMMIE JOHNSON:テつ Yeah, I think I know where you're going with the question, what Junior is experiencing and his fan base.テつ From my viewpoint, I'm looking at the dynamic of our two cars being built in the same shop, all that goes into it, Greg Ives getting his first win, Junior locking into the Chase.テつ Those were the things that went through my mind first.
As you were asking the question, I was thinking about the history of Senior here, the fan base.テつ It's probably bigger than I realize and what you're alluding to.
From a team dynamic, I'm real happy.テつ It strengthens our race shop.テつ To finish 1‑2 with the cars, the morale boost it gives the company, our shop, that's where my mindset is.

Q.テつ After the race Carl Edwards was not too pleased.テつ When he was spinning down the track, nobody was really slowing down.テつ Obviously NASCAR didn't throw the caution.テつ Is there some protocol when a car is spinning, there's no caution, or do you still hammer down on the throttle and keep going?
JIMMIE JOHNSON:テつ Want that one (smiling)?
RYAN BLANEY:テつ I got it.
JIMMIE JOHNSON:テつ He's got to answer these tough ones at some point.
RYAN BLANEY:テつ The only thing I can say about that is, half of it is the guys want to get past the wreck as quick as possible.テつ I think that's half the reason why you see them wide open, is because they're afraid of him coming back down the racetrack or up the racetrack.テつ They don't want to get collected in it.
I didn't see how he spun, if he was right in the middle of track or what.テつ I think that's most of the reason, guys want to get by it, and they don't want to get caught up in it.
JIMMIE JOHNSON:テつ Great answer.テつ It's true.

Q.テつ Ryan, respond about the fan reaction, everything that was going on after the race, how loud it was out there.
RYAN BLANEY:テつ Yeah, actually I looked up off of four, through the tri‑oval, coming to the checkered, I think everyone was on their feet.
It's a cool atmosphere.テつ You talk about the history of this place, how good Dale is here, how good Senior was.テつ It's really cool to see.テつ It was cool to see all the fans out there today.
I think we had a sold‑out crowd.テつ That's really cool to see them.テつ Hopefully they saw a good show and a good finish.

Q.テつ Jimmie, out on pit road talking to the drivers now, listening to you in here, there's a little bit of bewilderment why there wasn't more in the last couple laps.テつ Is it a process by analysis?テつ A lot of people were talking about everything they thought about during the last couple laps but none of it actually happened.
JIMMIE JOHNSON:テつ I'm going to pretend I know what those big words were that you asked (laughter).
I think it was here McMurray won maybe two years ago or something and we had the same deal where everybody rode around the top.
Just from my standpoint in second, I would have fallen back to 15th or 20th if I went anytime before being on the front straightaway.テつ That was my opportunity.
Maybe for the guys further back, you know, you start working around for that final lap, where you try to make the move, how much distance you need to close, all that kind of thing.
So I think everybody was just protecting.テつ It's just weird to see one unfold and you stay single file that long.テつ I'm with you.テつ It's mind‑boggling.テつ I knew my best chance was making a move off of four.テつ Denny made his move the lap before on Ryan going into three.テつ Our energy of our draft died out and there wasn't any opportunity.

Q.テつ Was Dale being any more or less aggressive as he was in the lead?テつ Jeff commented he thought that Dale was being extra aggressive because he wanted to win, he needed to win to get in the Chase, he was doing anything he could to protect his position.テつ Would you agree with that?
JIMMIE JOHNSON:テつ The times I chased him, he definitely was being aggressive.テつ But where I saw him most aggressive was in traffic.テつ He was relentless with a run.テつ He didn't ever choose to kind of push the car in front of him and help him.テつ Every time he had an opportunity to advance, he took it.テつ Even creating lanes up through the middle, slopping back and forth, trying to find a way by the leader.
I remember seeing his rooftop down up, down up, two or three times just as he had a run on someone in three and four.テつ Wow, go get it.
I thought he was more aggressive coming through the field than maybe defending.

Q.テつ Jimmie, pertaining to Jeff, for the second time this year he had a pit road penalty that seems like it played a big role in his finishing position out there.テつ Does that surprise you, that he would be caught like that, or is it more of an indication of how tight the new pit road regulations are?
JIMMIE JOHNSON:テつ Yeah, I don't know what this infraction was.テつ Was it speeding?

Q.テつ Yes.
JIMMIE JOHNSON:テつ He felt like the infraction, I can't remember the track it was at, where it hurt him so badly, Martinsville, he felt like he was being real aggressive there and sensed that he might have been too aggressive, and he was.
I don't know what he feels here.テつ But, man, track position's so important even here, and to have control of the lane like what Junior did at the end.テつ You can control it and take care of it.テつ He could have been aggressive.テつ Plus the caution came out while he was on pit road.テつ I don't know if that caught him in a weird situation, weren't paying attention to their marks on pit road or what it might be.
I think the caution may have played a factor in it.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Jimmie, Ryan, congratulations on solid runs this afternoon.テつ We thank you for your time.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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