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October 25, 2009

Jimmie Johnson

Juan Pablo Montoya


THE MODERATOR: Let's roll into our post-race Tums Fast Relief 500 here at Martinsville Speedway, and joining us right now is our third place finisher, Juan Pablo Montoya. He drives the No. 42 target Chevrolet for Earnhardt Ganassi.
Juan, just watching you race out there this afternoon, just the progress that this race team has made this season. You've got to feel pretty good about the way things went out there today.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Yeah, it's exciting to come every week out of the truck and have a fast race car. We've been doing it for a while now, and you know, it's kind of funny. I don't know where that extra pace came from when the Chase started. I thought we had great race cars, and right before the Chase we had good race cars. But when the Chase started, everybody, all the pit stop crew, stepped it up, we stepped it up. It's nice to see.

Q. Jeff Gordon wanted to know on pit road what he had done to make you so mad at him.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: It's just every time we've been around racing against him, he runs the hell out of me. He moved me out of the way before, and he was starting to do the same here today. You know, I was running the outside of him, and every time he was just getting wider and wider.
We're good. I talked to him afterwards. And it got to a point, it's like, hey, I'm here, and you're not going to push me around; you know what I mean? If you give me room, I'll give you room. He wasn't giving me any, so I played the same game.
I talked got on the radio and said to the spotter, look, tell him if he comes I'm going to give him space, but I hope he does the same. Right at the end we ran together and he gave me room and I gave him room. I mean, you can do it. It's just you've got to be -- sometimes you've got to set a precedent so people back off a little.
It's okay. I never really had a big problem with him, but he's always so hard to race against. But he probably says the same thing against me, because he never gave me any room, why am I going to give him any. It's a vicious circle.

Q. Talk about the double-file restarts. It seemed like before the race everybody was talking about how the guy on the outside was going to get hung out to dry and fall back. That never really happened out there.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: No, it doesn't happen. It's so close, and when you've got a good car you can run anywhere. Sometimes when you're like in the fourth or fifth row you can lose a row or two; it happens.
But it's okay, it's fun. I think it makes for the fans at a place like here, side-by-side restarts with two laps to go, you can't ask for much more.

Q. Did you ever think of getting rough with Jimmie when you were trying to get up there?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I bumped him a couple times, didn't I? It wasn't to wreck, it was more just to get my nose up enough, but I couldn't put the power good enough.

Q. Juan, you had a good finish today, but Jimmie finished second and extended his lead --
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I'm too far. It doesn't matter. You've got to say the 48 team is doing an amazing job and they deserve everything they're doing right now. Do we want to beat them? Yeah, we want to beat them. But it's not over.
You've got to be honest, you go to Talladega and he might have a bad race, or even the race after. He might blow a motor have a bad pit stop. There's still a lot of racing to go, so anything can happen. We've just got to keep running hard and hope for the best.

Q. Where do you think is the best chance to maybe catch up some room on Jimmie?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: The way he's running, you've probably got to win the next five races and he's got to have some bad luck. But for us right now this is our first Chase, we're learning to see what we have to do, how aggressive you've got to run. I think one of the things we learned, next year somehow we've got to win some races before the Chase. I think when you start so far behind already when the Chase starts, you don't have any cushion for a bad race or anything.

Q. On that last restart, you were sitting in third, and you know the history between Jimmie and Denny at this place.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I was pretty excited. I thought they were going to run a little bit wide and give me a little bit of room. Denny was pretty clean, and it's just we were not fast enough to be honest.

Q. Juan, certainly your car was beat up. It looked aggressive today. Is this more aggressive than what you've run here, and did that car allow you to do that?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: No, when people are clean with you, you're going to be clean with them. When they race the hell out of you, you're going to do the same. That's what it is. But you're going to be ending beating it, banging it and hitting it and getting hit. It's part of the deal. It's fun.

Q. Clearly you understand that yesterday on national television somebody made a comment about you that has caused some consternation. What do you feel about being spoken of in that light by a football coach?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Football coach? I don't know who it is. Somebody mentioned it to me. I don't really care to tell you the truth. Yeah, I don't. I could say I spent the last three hours eating tacos, but I was actually driving a car. But that's okay, I don't care.
THE MODERATOR: Well done out there this afternoon. We'll see you at Talladega.
Now our race runner-up and still our points leader. Of course he's three-time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson. He drives the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet.
Jimmie, certainly you battled all day, you led a lot of laps and battled that 11 car right down to the finish. Talk about the race today.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, it went well for us. At times had a really fast car and the best car. The last runner, too, at the end, the 11, had their stuff right. I was just a little too loose to do anything with him. Over the long haul we were probably the second best car the last two or three stops and finished where we should have, so I'm happy with that.
I was nervous with those restarts at the end. I hoped that I might have a chance to get by Denny, but at the same time being stuck in that outside lane there was so much too lose, I was really nervous about just getting to the bottom and protecting the position I was in.
All in all, a good day, and I wish we could have won, but we just didn't have anything for the 11 on that last run.
THE MODERATOR: Looking at the top 5 in points right now, Jimmie, unofficially your lead right now over Mark Martin is 118. Jeff Gordon third, 150 out; Tony Stewart, fourth, 192 out; Juan Pablo Montoya, fifth, 200 points out. Questions for Jimmie Johnson?

Q. Like it was in the spring, you had a chance to maybe bump Denny out of the way. Did you think you could get to his bumper and try to move him out of the way?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: I had one chance. He caught the curb with about 40 to go and lost some drive off of 2, and I got inside of him, and I thought, man, I've seen this movie before. I got inside of him and he came to block the position like he did in the spring, and I thought, man, I didn't try to hit him last time here, and that time he was coming again. I wasn't in there far enough to stay in there like I did in the spring, so I backed out of it, and I think I actually hit the curb and screwed up my line and all that kind of thing. That was my one chance.
After that I could match his laps, but he would just start inching away from me and had the best car there at the end. If I had a chance to pass him and to get to his bumper and work him over, I would have. But I wasn't just going to come in with the second place car and take a cheap shot and pass him that way. If I felt like I had a car to win the race, I would have been up there leaning on him some.

Q. You were able to extend your lead today. How comfortable are you with that lead right now, and how do you feel about going into Talladega, which is historically maybe not one of your better tracks?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: I'm so tired of answering this question. I think you guys can all figure it out.
Talladega, there's no telling, and I feel good with the other tracks after that as long as we don't have any mechanicals.

Q. You and Chad, you always often talk about putting the blinders on, and that's a constant theme for you guys. Can you just detail how you go about doing that, how you get your mental state during this week coming up or whatever? How do you put the blinders on? How do you avoid hearing about things or how do you get away from it mentally?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: It's done in a lot of different ways. At the end of the day it really just means focusing on what we need to do. We've all been there before, if it's been in sport -- mainly sports, I guess, would be the best example where you're doing well, you're in a rhythm, things are great, you get a little confident and you lose -- whatever it is, if you're shooting hoops, if you're swinging a golf club, it's just gone.
I've learned over time in a race car that that same thing can happen. I need to just worry about doing my job and not let the emotions affect my effort and my focus. That's can be negative thoughts, it can be good thoughts. You've just got to stay focused on your little world, or I stay focused on my world, and that's it.
I encourage my guys to do the same. If it's a tire changer, all he needs to be thinking about is five lug nuts off, five lug nuts on; run to the other side, five off, five on. Jack man needs to think of his steps, where he's placing the jack, run around, do the same. So that's kind of what I mean by it is for us to all stay in our worlds and focused on our jobs, and we need to go out and execute.

Q. A couple things. It just kind of looked like throughout the race a couple times the 11 and 42 came up on you and really not maybe roughed you up but certainly let you know they were there earlier. Was this a little bit of a rougher race or typical Martinsville? And I also want to ask you about your last pit stop, I guess the guys had a little bit of a problem with the rear of the right side. I know you guys have kind of gone through that position here lately. Are you kind of worried about that spot?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: From the pit stop standpoint, no. If I look at all the other stops throughout the day, we made up a lot of spots and came off pit road first.
I think things are going well back there. It was unfortunate we had that problem on that stop. Luckily we had such a big margin over third that we just lost a little time with the 11 and it didn't really affect things too much. I hate that it happened, but it happened at a good time.
You know, the 11 caught me and started running into the back of me. I really couldn't understand that, so I finally let him by and ran into him a couple times. It was just kind of middle of the race and uncalled for. He was clearly faster, so I don't understand why he just didn't take the time to get by me and why he ran into the back of me a few times. After I ran into him a few time I think he understood I didn't appreciate it, and things were all good at that point.

Q. On the last lap we saw the 34 car spin. Were you aware of that, and did that throw you off at all? We saw a debris caution come out when you guys were catching the tail end of the field, and it looked like that was really going to play a factor into the conclusion of the race. Do you think that the consistency of the cautions wasn't there?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: I don't know enough about the debris caution. My point of view is so limited. The caution at the end, I didn't know until I came off of 4, and my spotter had mentioned there was a car sitting on the inside, and when I looked up I could see the caution and the checkered at the same time.
From that standpoint I see that they are consistent and waited until the last possible second to throw the caution out so that the finish could be as exciting as possible.
It makes me a little nervous as I'm charging into the start/finish line there's a car sitting there. I wish it would be thrown a little bit earlier for safety reasons. Might as well be on the safe side.

Q. Gordon said he's tired of talking about points, you say you're tired of talking about points. But there's four more weeks to go, so I guess you'd better get used to it.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: I am, but we all know what the answers are. It's the same stuff over and over again. The mechanicals, the stuff we can't control is the stuff I'm worried about. The stuff we can control, I feel we're going to be great. Four good tracks coming up for us. If we have no issues, I feel that we can race for this championship and things will turn out as we want. But the stuff I can't control, I know it gives everybody something to talk about, but I'm tired of talking about all the what-ifs, and I'd just rather not.

Q. One thing that's become a very common theme here in this Chase is at the end of the race we look up and most of the people in the Top 10 are Chase drivers. Sitting in your position, that's not really a bad thing because if everybody is near you, then they can't really gain a lot of points on you. Have you noticed that it's been kind of common now that all through five races that those guys are all -- you guys always seem to find yourselves at the end of the race?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, I think a lot of it has to do with it's the 12 best teams over the regular season and it kind of backs up why those cars are in the Chase. I know it's tough on the guys that don't make the Chase that are right on that bubble mark, but those top 12 guys typically run hard through the Chase and run in the Top 10 all the time. I think it's that more than anything.
You just get to the end of the year, I think some guys are upset with their years and maybe not focused. You have teams that are trying a lot of stuff that aren't in the Chase, and they could be slower and not performing because of using the races as test beds and things like that.
It doesn't surprise me too much. But I wish there was some separation in there at times.

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