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Jimmie Reflects On End Of The Run

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, November 13 2011

Jimmie Johnson's incredible reign is over. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Gregg Ellman)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

One of the most impressive streaks in all of professional sports is officially over: Jimmie Johnson has been eliminated from contention for a sixth straight Sprint Cup championship.

Johnson’s reign came to an end Sunday when he finished 14th at the Kobalt 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.

After the race, the Hendrick Motorsports driver answered questions for the media.

The following is a transcript of that meeting:

YOU HAVE BEEN MATHEMATICALLY ELIMINATED FROM THE DRIVER’S CHAMPIONSHIP, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON WHAT YOU ACCOMPLISHED THIS YEAR?

“Yeah, I’m definitely disappointed that we won’t be able to go to Homestead and race for our sixth (consecutive driver’s championship) but that’s motorsports. It’s a very tough business. What we did over the last five years was absolutely spectacular and I’ve just got to thank Lowe’s. I’ve got to thank Hendrick Motorsports, Chad Knaus (crew chief), and this whole race team for giving me everything they’ve had these 10 years. Even though we’re not in position to win the championship now, we’re going to go to Homestead and try to have our best race down there that we can and finish as high as we can in the points.”

A LOT OF PEOPLE SAY YOU ARE GOING TO COME BACK EVEN STRONGER NEXT YEAR. WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE ONE THING YOU WANT TO TAKE FROM THIS AS YOU MOVE FORWARD?

“We’ll definitely learn. To a certain degree being on top for as long as we have been takes a lot of effort to maintain that. It just takes a lot out of you. So this winter will be a nice winter to unplug and relax and really look internally and dissect the different areas of the race team and what we do and come back stronger. I’ve always learned more from tougher moments and by no means is this a tough moment. Yes, the streak is gone but we’ve still got a shot at a top-five in points and that would be a big year still.”

WILL YOU HAVE A LITTLE MORE FUN AT HOMESTEAD THIS TIME THAN YOU’VE HAD IN THE PAST FIVE YEARS?

“Yeah, I’ll definitely have more fun and get a lot of sleep going in there. I’ll bet you the No. 99 (Carl Edwards) and the No. 14 (Tony Stewart) won’t. I’ll have fun watching from the sidelines.”

WAS THIS A CHALLENGING RACE LIKE EVERYONE THOUGHT IT WAS GOING TO BE?

“Yeah, we were really, really far off. We kind of had that in practice and throughout different points of the weekend. Unfortunately we just couldn’t get the car balanced right. As a whole, if you look at our Hendrick cars, unfortunately we all struggled. The only Hendrick affiliated car that did any good was the No. 14 (Tony Stewart) and the rest of us looked like mid-packers all weekend long.”

WILL TONIGHT BE THE NIGHT YOU REFLECT ON WHAT YOU’VE ACCOMPLISHED?

“It might be. There’s definitely disappointment. I think that will be the emotion I deal with first. And then over the off-season, I’m sure it will kick-in some and reflect. I’ll reflect then, but still; in order for us to be where we want to be next year, we’ve got to work very, very hard during this off-season to understand what’s up and that’s not going to make it all that relaxed. So, I’m up for the challenge. This team is. My guys work so hard and we’ll learn and grow from this.”

IS IT GOING TO SEEM WEIRD THAT YOU’RE NOT THE CHAMPION?

“”I’ve been racing 30 years; shoot, 31 years and I’ve won probably two other big championship along the way. So, seven out of 31 years; this is normal. What we did over the last five years is abnormal. And then now we’ll get a taste of normalcy.”

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, November 13 2011
One Comment

One Comment »

  • Richard Moore says:

    Jimmy, Chad:
    You both will be in NASCAR hall of fame but thats many many years from now, you both have won 5 Championship’s.
    The fact they came in a row won’t be matched in my life time, you did it with diffrent cars, rear wing, diffrent tracks diffrent rules and you did it better than any other team.
    I would bet my savings you will retire with more Championship’s than Richard or Dale.
    So relax enjoy this off season when you can, I’m a NASCAR fan since the 60’s I have enjoyed you both and your accomplishments you have been good for the sport I only wish I was a fan, I am it’s just that I had my loyalties establish before you came in to NASCAR, good luck.