Toyota Racing – NCS Kansas Quotes – Jimmie Johnson – 05.04.24

JIMMIE JOHNSON, No. 84 AdventHealth Toyota Camry XSE, LEGACY MOTOR CLUB 

Back in the car for consecutive weeks, how much does that help you adjust to finding the right feel behind the wheel? 

”Yeah, it’s really helped me inside the car and I look forward to expanding on that this weekend. And then coming back for the (Coke) 600 and a lot more mile-and-a-half tracks that I’ll run this year. I know it doesn’t show it now, but being in the car is going to help our competition department as well. This year has been more challenging for us in a lot more ways that we anticipated. But I do think we’re getting closer to a consistent pace that we hope to have week in and week out. There’s a real evolution taking place right now and I’m hopeful that we can show that on track this weekend as a group.” 

Can you elaborate on why it’s been more challenging? 

”Yeah, I mean it’s tough to change manufacturers. We have amazing support from Toyota, an amazing collaboration and partnership working with them. But the offseason is short and we’re a small team. Our resources and people have had a lot more work items on the list than work hours in the day or week. We’re systematically working through it all and growing as a company. It’s tough to just compete with Gibbs (Joe Gibbs Racing) and Hendrick (Hendrick Motorsports) and all these big teams. But we’re making steps forward and I’m excited about the future.” 

What’s it been like working with Jason Burdett (crew chief)? 

”It’s been great! Jason and I started together on the 48 car and was my car chief back in 2002. I’ve always kept a close eye on him and we’ve always had a good friendship. This is his first attempt at Next Gen racing, so there are a lot of new things he’s dealing with as am I. But his leadership certainly helps within our walls with the race team, and I think I’m at nine Cup races, so at the other events and his weekly duties, helping the other two teams is quite helpful. It’s been a great fit, and you know we’re more focused on today and the competition aspect that we have. Dover was more challenging than we would have hoped, but there were a few bright spots, but more challenging than we hoped. But, excited for this weekend.” 

What were the conversations with Erik Jones like this week? 

”Yeah, I don’t envy his position, but I really do appreciate his willingness to hear us out. It’s not a fun process, and as far as he’s concerned, he should have never missed a race. He’s just eager to do it. I’ve played hurt before, so I get it and have seen both sides of it. My concern is that we’re at a fast track and an impact like that could happen again, and is his body really ready for that? And that’s kind of the question he came to his own answer on and realized that it’s probably early. There’s a lot of other bits and pieces to that, but ultimately, he feels great and is moving around really well. He was able to get in the gym and exercise, but you know to really take a shot like you can at this place, it’s just early. Hopefully next week’s the week.”

With Erik missing some time, how does it change your expectations for the team? 

”Missing a race truly takes us out of an opportunity to make the Playoffs on points. So if it’s one race, and this was part of our conversation with Erik, if it’s one race, two races or three races, that window unfortunately closes and it becomes about winning a race. So when he’s back in the seat, it’s not that we never wanted to win, but it really gives us that one lane of making the Playoffs. We really feel like Erik on points would have been able to make it in the top 16. I hate that opportunity has closed on him, for our team, our partners, but it’s not over and our team is very capable of winning races. We just need everything under him and hopefully we can as the summer gets here and hopefully, we can get him in under a waiver.” 

What were your impressions from Corey last week at Dover and heading into this weekend? 

”Yeah, Corey’s done a great job. I think us naming him as our backup driver to start the year has given us as a group time to get to know each other. He’s been doing sim work for us and he’s in our system, and I’ve been able to get to know him and get to watch him, and have been impressed with the questions he’s asked, how’s he able to articulate what he’s and experiencing feeling in the car in a concise manner. To roll all that up into last weekend, and to be able to see more of that. Without a doubt, he’s a guy that’s not afraid to stand on the gas, but his job is to more than that and to see him really work on those other facets, interacting with the team and our partners, at a young age, he’s well-rounded and has a very bright future, and he’s excited to be here this weekend. Hopefully, he can get a good result.” 

Toyota Racing PR