JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 KOBALT TOOLS CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and discussed his plans for the West Coast swing, building a Habitat for Humanity home for a family in need, his success at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and many other topics. Full Transcript:
TALK ABOUT EVERYTHING YOU HAVE HAD GOING ON THIS WEEKEND WITH YOUR SPONSOR KOBALT TOOLS AND WHAT YOUR THOUGHTS ARE ON TODAY’S RACE:
“I’m very honored to represent Lowe’s and KOBALT week in and week out. After 14 years of representing the brand they continue to amaze me and do great things. They love this sport. They love Team Lowe’s Racing. They find it very important for them to be here in this space and connect with our fan base, very thankful for that. They also do so much in the charitable world. I’ve had multiple builds with them with the Habitat for Humanity including the one here this weekend. I just had a chance to meet the family and their five daughters. They are so happy. I had a hard time looking them in the eyes because they would start to tear up. Of course it catches my emotions as well. They continue to support communities abroad through a variety of different charities. I’m thankful for our foundation and our involvement with them in the public education world that we work in then also with Habitat. A lot of fun, I’ve been busy. I had a trip in LA (Los Angeles) for some kind of non-traditional media before we got here. Since we have been here at the track just spreading the word about KOBALT and their involvement, the Habitat build and spent sometime in the race car. The car has been super-fast. Hopefully, we can take our sponsors trophy home back where it belongs."
HOW ARE YOU GOING ABOUT THE WEST COAST SWING? WHAT IS YOUR TRAVEL LIKE? IS YOUR FAMILY OUT WITH YOU? ARE YOU STAYING OUT OR GOING BACK AND FORTH?
“We are going back and forth. Channi (wife) is real busy at home. The kids in school and then the last piece of it is Lydia’s sleep schedule. She won’t sleep in the bus or in a hotel. To set ourselves up to succeed they stayed home this weekend. Next weekend I’m going to meet them in Colorado after the race we are going to have some fun and do a little spring skiing. I will continue on to Fontana and they will go home. Evie (daughter) is strong enough and old enough to kind of deal with the time change and the late night flying, but Lydia is still a little too young for all of that. I enjoy it. I look forward to the day when things maybe calm down at home and we could spend three weeks on the West Coast. There is so much to see and do. Here, my hometown, spend a lot of time in the mountains, whatever might be. We would really enjoy that, but we are probably a year or so away from really enjoying the West Coast swing."
WHAT IS IT LIKE FOR YOU AS A DRIVER TO GET IN THE ZONE AT A CERTAIN TRACK AND GET ON A WINNING STREAK?
“I had no idea I had done that or Kevin (Harvick) has. I guess streaks you are not really aware of because there is so much time between events. Each year goes by and your last memory is the last time you were on track type of thing. Tracks that work for certain drivers and we all know when we go to Phoenix you have to deal with the No. 4 car or Kevin (Harvick) regardless of the car he is in. Charlotte has been that way for us; Dover and Martinsville have kind of been in that wheelhouse too. I enter those races just excited for the opportunity and hopeful to stockpile some wins. I see what Darrell Waltrip did at Bristol and such a big number winning there. We have been able to be the winningest driver at a few tracks and I take a lot of pride in that and want to pad that if I can."
THEY ARE RUNNING THE OLD MINT 400 HERE COMING UP IN A FEW DAYS. HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT ABOUT RETURNING TO YOUR DIRT ROOTS AFTER EVERYTHING IS SAID AND DONE?
“Yeah, the dirt is definitely in my future. My last trip to Mexico didn’t go so well, so I’m not sure I’m ready to head south. One of my favorite races was in Barstow (California). I love the terrain there. This one here is a pretty tough one it rattles everything out of you. I love the dirt, I love getting off the ground, so if it is on two wheels, four wheels, probably four wheels to competitively go out and race I will definitely be on the dirt."
NOW THAT YOU HAVE A WIN UNDER YOUR BELT, WHAT’S YOUR STRATEGY? DO YOU FEEL A LITTLE BIT BETTER THAT YOU HAVE A WIN SO EARLY IN THE SEASON, OR DO YOU JUST TRY TO GET AS MANY WINS AS POSSIBLE?
“We want as many wins as possible. Winning early is nice because you kind of, for all intents and purposes, lock yourself into the Chase. And that’s the first box we need to check as a race team; especially for the No. 48 team. But then again, it is so early that we can’t think that we’ve got it under control. We have so many months of racing between now and when the Chase starts, that we could lose our way and find our way again. There’s just a lot of racing between now and then. So, we’re excited, but we’re just getting started in 2015."
A FEW YEARS AGO WE TALKED ABOUT YOUR KOBALT SPONSORSHIP AND YOU SAID YOU COULDN’T REALLY EVEN CHANGE A LIGHT BULB. HOW GRATIFYING IS IT NOW TO GO OUT AND SWING A HAMMER WITH HABITAT? ARE YOU ANY BETTER MECHANICALLY NOW BECAUSE OF YOUR SPONSORSHIP, MAYBE?
“I was just trying to keep my wife from figuring out if I could do stuff around the house (laughter). I’ve worked on plenty of stuff over the years, I guess, begrudgingly change light bulbs and get involved when I can. The schedule is so busy it’s tough to enjoy the moments of doing it yourself around the house. But having kids and Christmas-time, and birthdays and just stuff in general has kind of sharpened my mechanical skills again. I find myself assembling things much more regularly now. I still don’t make my way to light bulbs and Channi doesn’t like that. We’ve got somebody else who can change light bulbs."
WHAT HAVE YOU ASSEMBLED?
“Oh, man; quite a few things. And I have to give Matt Kenseth props for this one approach of assembling things. It gets frustrating, especially with some of these kids toys on Christmas Eve or whatever it is. He suggested that I look at that job as an opportunity to enjoy a beer. So, it could be a one beer, two or three beer-project; instead of thinking I’ve got to rush through this and get it done….just to try to change your vantage point on it. So that’s been very helpful (laughs).
ANY FOUR, FIVE, OR SIX-BEER PROJECTS?
“No, nothing that deep yet. The year is young. But, we’ll see what happens when July comes around for the first birthday."
YOU TALKED ABOUT MEETING FIVE YOUNG GIRLS AT THE BEGINNING OF THIS MEDIA AVAILABILITY. CAN YOU EXPAND ON THAT?
“Yeah, it’s so moving to meet the family and see their excitement. It helps pull your mind into their situation. I think they were in a two-bedroom apartment, with seven people. I just can’t even imagine that. So, to have a home that can adequately suit them and provide for them; and then they don’t have to worry about it, financially. So, the opportunity it gives this family, a wonderful family, is just awesome to give a family and these children and these people an opportunity to succeed. We all have the luxury of going home to our houses and know what that feels like, and to also be able to provide that opportunity for a family is just awesome."
YOU’VE BEEN AROUND LONG ENOUGH TO SEE SOME ODD THINGS IN NASCAR. BUT IN THE LAST THREE WEEKS WE’VE HAD A RACE CAR STOLEN, ELDORA’S WEBSITE HACKED, AND CRAZINESS IN QUALIFYING, A MAJOR INJURY, LEGAL PROBLEMS WITH ANOTHER DRIVER, AND VERY VISIBLE DRIVER VERSUS DRIVER DISCUSSION/ARGUMENT ON PIT ROAD. POUND FOR POUND, IS THIS AMONG THE WEIRDEST YOU’VE SEEN A SEASON START SINCE YOU’VE BEEN IN THIS SPORT?
“Did something yesterday, too?"
THE ELDORA WEBSITE
“Well, what was the confrontation between drivers?"
DANICA PATRICK AND DENNY HAMLIN
“Oh, yeah-yeah; I missed that one. Yeah, I saw it; I just thought something happened yesterday. And I thought man; I missed it (laughter). What’s that old saying? Any press is good press? I think it applies to most of those examples you gave. It has been a wacky year, unfortunately. Some of the stuff is not good. Injuries are not good. The legal situation is not good. I think, on a positive note, there’s been a lot of great competition and I think this package is going to provide some great racing. But, from Eldora’s site getting hacked; are you sure it wasn’t Tony (Stewart) figuring out how to work the internet (laughter)?
“The car being stolen is quite interesting. I saw Travis Kvapil. My rental car was parked in the way and he was trying to pull his motorhome out to go home and he knocked on the door and I moved the car for him. He was still shocked, 14 hours later. Like I can’t believe it. Like I don’t have a race car. It’s gone. So, it has been a wacky start to the year."