|"It's just about getting the job done."|
Despite a series of on-track misfortunes in recent weeks, six-time and defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson said his confidence level remains high this weekend at Darlington Raceway.
“There’s definitely an ‘ouch’,” said Johnson of the blown tire that robbed him of a possible victory three weeks ago in Fontana, Cal., and the damage inflicted by debris from teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s early off-road excursion last weekend in Texas. “But it’s more from a position where we hate to see opportunities slip away. It doesn’t hurt our confidence.
“For us -- and I think for most teams -- when you’re that close, have a shot to win, know that you have fast race cars and don’t pull into Victory Lane, it’s a confidence booster. The end result isn’t what you want or what you like, but you know your cars are fast and your pit stops are good.
“You have all the pieces there and it’s just about running the distance of the race and getting the job done.”
Johnson said he is especially happy to be back at Darlington, a track where he has visited Victory Lane three times in 15 career starts.
|"You can only give 100 percent."|
“I’m excited to be back at a track that is a favorite of so many, including myself. The sensation of speed here is higher than any other track we go to. The line and racing surface are so narrow and unique and challenging, that it really is an accomplishment to run 500 miles here. (It’s tough) to be successful and qualify well and have a good race, and then ultimately to win. So, I’m very excited to be back and I’m looking forward to a good race.
“We’ve had a lot of speed in our cars, insisted Johnson. “I feel terrible that in the last three weeks, we’ve had a race-winning car and haven’t been able to take advantage of it. Last week, our race was cut awfully short; just three or four laps before we had all the damage from Junior’s trip through the grass. I think we were really in a great position to compete for a win, but that stuff happens. We’re looking forward to -- and are focused on -- this weekend’s race and hopefully can get a ‘W’.”
The six-time series champion said he has learned over the years that “over-trying” in times of struggle can actually hurt a team.
“We’re giving 100 percent and that’s really all you can do,” said Johnson. “You can only work so many hours in the day and then in the week. You can only give 100 percent. Anything more is going to be detrimental to the team and not help things progress.
“We’ve had speed in our race cars. We’ve been competitive and have had looks at wins (before) things have happened. That happens in motorsports. We hate that it hasn’t happened, we hate opportunities slipping away.
“But when you’re giving 100 percent and you have fast race cars, you’re controlling most of your variables. We feel good about that and know that once we get things rolling, we’ll be in great shape.”