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NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES: COKE ZERO 400 POWERED BY COCA-COLA


July 5, 2015


Jimmie Johnson


DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA

THE MODERATOR:テつ We're joined by our second place finisher Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Patriotic Chevrolet.テつ You led 35 laps today but just didn't have enough for the 88 at the end there.テつ Take us through that last restart, please.
JIMMIE JOHNSON:テつ Yeah, restart‑wise, I was excited to have a front‑row opportunity and just hopeful that the scenario behind me would play out right.テつ Man, I don't know what went on.テつ We just couldn't get‑‑ I had two or three shots at it and we just couldn't get our lane to go.テつ And the last restart I think the 6 car was more focused on setting up a run down the back straightaway and was backing up to the car behind him and I got a great start with Junior and was door to door with him, but didn't have any help getting through 1 and 2.テつ Lost control of my lane, and Junior was so strong all night, and you give him control of the race, he's not going to give that up.
Great performance, happy to be 1‑2, but clearly thinking about the accident that happened and the people in the stands.テつ It sounds like things are well out there, which is shocking.テつ I'm shocked that Austin Dillon is even alive, what he went through.テつ Just a frightening moment.テつ I saw it in the mirror, and man, I expected the worst when I came back around.

Q.テつ Talk about the dynamics of racing so late.テつ Does your body clock, everything get out of whack, and getting back to what you said about Austin, is that as bad an accident as you've seen?
JIMMIE JOHNSON:テつ Yeah, I'd say maybe the only one that really would rival that would be‑‑ well, I guess we've had two.テつ We've had Kyle Larson here in a Nationwide Series car, and then Jeff Bodine in the truck down the front stretch, looked a lot like this one.
But yeah, the fence and the cables, it's like a great cheese grater to a race car and just tears it apart, and unfortunately all the energy with the turn on the front stretch as the car comes apart, the energy is carrying the debris out into the grandstands, and that's a scary thing.テつ I'm happy to hear that it seems to be only a few minor injuries in the stands right now is what I heard on the way in.

Q.テつ Talk about the dynamics of racing so late.
JIMMIE JOHNSON:テつ Yeah, for sure when you're under caution, you can feel the weight of the day kind of on you, on your eyes.テつ And then just sitting around waiting for it, there was a whole feeling, I think, throughout the industry that about 8:00, 8:30 the deal was over, so mentally I started shutting down and thinking, okay, I'm staying the night, what am I doing, trying to coordinate family things, and then all of a sudden it's drying and the dryers are on the track.
Being in the sport as long as I have, you learn how to turn it off and turn it on.テつ I did overeat, so I haven't figured that part out.テつ It's hard to sit out there for so many hours and not eat too much, but everything else went pretty well.

Q.テつ Is there anything that can be done to lessen the likelihood that something like that happens?
JIMMIE JOHNSON:テつ You know, I watched a few replays before I did my TV interviews, and I assumed that the 3 was backwards and it lifted off from that, but it was actually the 11 was backwards and the 3 bumped him and got some air under the nose of the car and then it just peeled the car up off the ground.テつ I don't know how you help the cars in that scenario.テつ Slow us down, certainly.テつ Slow us down, we get further below the lift‑off point, and that could be something to look at.テつ But what I thought happened didn't happen.テつ I was shocked to see the car get off the ground as it did from that type of contact.

Q.テつ That's two times in two years a NASCAR race car that the catch fence has been ripped apart and exposed the fans to potential danger.テつ Knowing that it sounds like there's nothing you can really do in this type of racing to keep the cars on the ground, is that something that should be looked at?
JIMMIE JOHNSON:テつ Yeah, I know they have, and it's been a topic of discussion for a lot of years through NASCAR and also IndyCar.テつ If I remember, back to post Dan Wheldon's tragedy there was discussion about the Texas track and the way the fence laid against the posts and a lot of conversation.テつ It's been a topic online and I know people have spent time looking at it.テつ I just don't know if there's a good solution or one that's going to be better than what we have.
I don't know, I'm definitely open‑minded to it and hope that we can engineer something, but I don't know how you keep a 3,500‑pound car at 200 miles an hour staying in the racetrack like that.テつ The fence held up.テつ It did function well, but the debris going off into the stands is something I don't know how you can control.テつ Keep the cars on the ground, slow us down would be the only way to do it, I would say, and even then there's no guarantees.テつ It would help, but no guarantees.

Q.テつ You said your eyes were getting heavy.テつ Is this too late to be racing?テつ Is it safe to be racing this late after such a long day?
JIMMIE JOHNSON:テつ Oh, yeah, it's plenty safe.テつ We're good on that front.テつ I like the challenge.テつ I've been here for the Rolex 24 and love the graveyard shift and would always ask for it.テつ There's something cool being in a race car watching the sun come up, so from my standpoint it was all good.テつ Not sure there's many people watching, but...
THE MODERATOR:テつ Jimmie, thanks for joining us this morning.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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