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November 10, 2013

Jimmie Johnson

Kasey Kahne


KASEY KAHNE:テつ I felt pretty good.テつ I had a lot better car, a lot more grip than what I had yesterday in practice, so I thank the guys, Kenny and Keith, they came up with some good stuff for today.テつ We were close with our Farmers Insurance car, and we were on a little bit longer strategy.テつ We stayed out longer so our tires were‑‑ Harvick was on a lot fresher tires, I guess.テつ He was able to stay out longer and came out there at the end and was pretty quick on that restart, got by us.テつ Carl short pitted.テつ That's how he got so far out front.テつ It was interesting, the strategy plays such a big factor here.テつ You have half the field doing one thing and half the field doing the other, and everybody is pitting five, six laps difference on those strategies, as well.
It's kind of a crazy race, but worked out pretty good, and I thought the track got a little bit better as it went.テつ I just keep hoping we could get a little bit softer tires so we could race around a little more.

Q.テつ It's definitely been an up‑and‑down season for you, but over the past couple races you've had a couple solid top 5s.テつ Over the course of the season has there been any point where you began to wonder if things were going to get better?テつ Did you lose any confidence?
KASEY KAHNE:テつ Yeah, I think you lose a little confidence.テつ I get down once in a while and feel pretty bad about what's going on.テつ I thought just‑‑ we've had a lot of things happen to us this year, but we've battled back the last two weeks.テつ We ran pretty good, fifth and second, so I'm happy about that.テつ We'll try to finish off strong at Homestead with another top 5 and maybe prepare a little better for next year and try to have a little more consistent, stronger year from start to finish.
KRISTI KING:テつ Joining Kasey is Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Kobalt Tools Chevrolet, who finished third in today's AdvoCare 500.テつ Currently our points leader heading into our season finale next weekend in Homestead.テつ Jimmie, talk a little bit about your good battle out there day.
JIMMIE JOHNSON:テつ The race was challenging.テつ Everybody says it's a short event here, but man, it seemed like it took 600 miles' worth of time to get through this race.テつ We had a very strong race car, so that made life a lot easier, especially comparing this effort to last year's effort in the Chase.テつ You know, we did what we should have.テつ I felt like yesterday we had a race‑winning car, and today seemed to be like a second‑ to third‑place car.テつ I hate that we missed it a little bit there, but still, all in all a very strong performance for us.テつ We're heading into Homestead in the position we want to be in.テつ I'll have to go down there and run 400 miles.テつ It's far from over.テつ You've got to finish that race.テつ Although we have a nice cushion, we still have to go down there and take care of business.

Q.テつ Jimmie, at any time in those two incidents today, for the tiniest fraction of a second did you think this is it, or were you too busy driving, correcting?
JIMMIE JOHNSON:テつ The one with the 22 didn't worry me too much.テつ I felt like I had enough room, and then the way the car was sliding to save it.テつ But the one with the 99, two different points as I saved it the car pointed back at the fence, and I thought I was going to hit it.
Thankful that that didn't happen, clearly.テつ Certainly worried me, and then we were mired in traffic after that and I didn't know what that was going to mean for us.テつ We were in a nice position strategy‑wise, but there was a caution and they missed some oil off of Turn 4 and that drug off the laps under caution and put everybody into the same fuel strategy.テつ I was starting to get worried at that point in time, but seemed shortly thereafter we left pit road and the 20 was behind me again, they came down pit road, then I felt like I knew where I was, I felt like I knew where I could manage things and it was about trying to get points again, and I found my way up to third.

Q.テつ Jimmie, mentioning those earlier incidents, we saw Matt, he struggled with his car all day and then they had issues on pit road.テつ Does a race like today just stress how on your game you have to be in these races?テつ Everybody talked about you had such a dominating run last week and it's not going to be much of a Chase.テつ Does it tell you that these things aren't over?
JIMMIE JOHNSON:テつ Yeah, everybody is so eager to predict the champion, but you've got to play the game.テつ You've got to run the race and stuff happens.テつ There's so many variables in one of our races, I think more variables than any pro sport out there.テつ We have all 43 teams playing, driving, racing, all the mechanical components on the race car, pit stops, other issues on other cars that can take you out, tires.テつ There's a lot of variables, so we don't take any of these weekends lightly, even with a nice points lead I'm not going to take any week any differently.テつ There's still a lot of pressure to get the job done, and it's no lay‑up at all.
I sympathize with Matt.テつ We were in that position last year and we went to Homestead and still had a shot and put a lot of pressure on the 2, and then we made mistakes again that took us out of it last year.

Q.テつ Jimmie, you've been through these wars‑‑
JIMMIE JOHNSON:テつ Anybody have anything else for Kasey?テつ He needs to get home.テつ (Laughter.)

Q.テつ You've been through these wars seven, eight, 10 times now in these Chases.テつ Were you surprised how poorly the 20 ran all day?テつ They just weren't there all day.テつ Were you surprised by that?
JIMMIE JOHNSON:テつ Yes.テつ Yes, surprised, and at the same time, I went through it last year.テつ I don't know how to quite describe it, but it can happen.テつ I thought that yesterday in the final practice session they made a nice run, and I thought that they got themselves where they needed to be.テつ But clearly today that wasn't the case.
When the 11 was leading early, I thought that might mean good things for the 20, and I never really saw the 18, and that was another marker to me that the 20 was not having the best of days, and both of his teammates were slipping back.

Q.テつ Back in the garage area, Carl said that the last thing he wanted was to be in the position like that that might have affected the championship.テつ Do you accept that just in the context of the overall racing environment, or just at that moment what were your thoughts on that?
JIMMIE JOHNSON:テつ Yeah, without a doubt.テつ I know Carl very well, and I have a ton of respect for him and what he does on the racetrack.テつ You know, the contact we had was unfortunate, really not three lanes down there, and I was coming around the outside of him, and I guess the 29 had a run on the inside, and once we all went to the brakes we were all committed to three wide in there.
You know, a little contact and all that stuff.テつ At the time I was frustrated.テつ Happy I didn't crash, and I was hopeful that I didn't lose all that track position and really affect our performance.
There was some frustration initially, but deep down inside I knew it wasn't an intentional situation, it was just a racing deal that didn't go our way.

Q.テつ Jimmie, not to bring up bad memories, but your last two finishes at Homestead were 32nd and 36th.テつ I know that was somewhat circumstantial, but given that and knowing you only need a 23rd or better how do you approach next week at Homestead?
JIMMIE JOHNSON:テつ Well, we're going to go down there and race as hard as we can.テつ I think the safest place on the racetrack is up front, and if I look back to our Texas performance, we found a way to race smart, stay out of trouble and still get the race won.テつ I would love to win the race and win the championship, but we'll just have to see how things develop in the race and where we are relative to the 20.テつ The big prize at the end of the day is what we're focused on, it's not so much that individual win, but we need to go down there and be prepared and treat Friday and Saturday like we need to win the race so we can make the car as comfortable and as fast as possible to give us all our options on Sunday.

Q.テつ What about Kevin Harvick?テつ He's closed up on the points, too.
JIMMIE JOHNSON:テつ Yeah, he's done a good job winning some races.テつ I guess he's in third right now.テつ If we have a hiccup or some type of mistake in Homestead, it'll be a race between the 20 and the 29.テつ But I feel like if we go down there and run as we should, we should be able to take care of business.
KRISTI KING:テつ Thank you very much for your time this afternoon.テつ We look forward to seeing you next week at Homestead.

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