CHAD KNAUS, CREW CHIEF NO. 48 LOWE'S/KOBALT TOOLS CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Richmond International Raceway and discussed the birth of Jimmie and Chani Johnson's second daughter, Regan Smith practicing and qualifying the car, Jimmie racing Saturday night and other topics. Full transcript:
CONGRATULATIONS UNCLE CHAD KNAUS: SMILES "It is pretty cool. We are all excited about."
TELL US WHAT YOU KNOW AND HOW THE DAY IS GOING TO GO: "As far as the day goes, Regan Smith is going to practice the car, and he is going to drive the car at qualifying today. Jimmie will be back here tomorrow, and he will race tomorrow evening. As far as Jimmie and Chani go and the baby – everything is fine there. They had her early, early this morning. Healthy; all her fingers, all her toes; all that stuff looks good. Chani is doing great. They are recovering and hopefully be home tomorrow."
HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THE HEIGHT DIFFERENCE OF REGAN AND JIMMIE? "Actually they fit in the same car. This has been the plan since the onset. We felt that if we went into Loudon (New Hampshire) weekend, we were going to have some difficulty with the mixed schedule. We were hoping she was going to come this weekend. We actually tested here a few weeks ago. It was a company test. Regan joined us at the test, and made some laps in the No. 48 car. He felt very comfortable in the race car. Turned some pretty respectable laps. It is actually working out better than we had hoped."
DID YOU ACTUALLY GET A CALL AT 2:30 IN THE MORNING? "I was getting text messages all night last night. Jimmie sent me a text, and we bantered back and forth a bit. It was quite exciting."
HOW IS JIMMIE? "He is great! He's having a good time. He is enjoying the moment with Chani. He really wanted to be here, but after talking it over with him last night, and really trying to put some sense to it; it made a lot more sense for him to take the day off. Get some rest. Spend some time with Chani. That way when he showed up here tomorrow night, he was actually fresh and ready to go instead of sleep deprived and wanting to be with his kid."
WHAT IS THE IMPACT WITH HOW IT IS GOING TO WORK TODAY? "Really, as poorly as we have qualified here, I don't think the implications are going to be too bad. We start toward the rear typically anyhow. So we are going to go out there; we're going to try and qualify as best we can so we get a solid pit selection. We will have to start toward the rear of the field tomorrow. We have 400 laps to try to work our way up there. I feel very confident with it. Regan is actually a fantastic qualifier. We've seen that time and time again, so I feel like he can get the Lowe's/KOBALT Chevrolet qualified in the top-10, top-15. Get a good solid pit pick and go in there and race."
HOW MUCH LESS PRESSURE IS THERE KNOWING IT'S NOT GOING TO BE A DISTRACTION OR AN ISSUE NEXT WEEK? "It is just the thing, man. Life happens, so we are prepared for everything. We tried to be as prepared as we could for all of it. We were ready for Chicago in case Regan needed to go in there as well. It's nice to know that we don't have to worry about it, but if it had crept up, we would have dealt with it. We would have been okay."
DO YOU HAVE ANY INPUT ON THE BABY'S NAME? WE HAVEN'T BEEN GIVEN A NAME: "I think Genevieve has the biggest influence on that right now."
DO YOU HAVE TO MAKE MANY CHANGES INSIDE THE CAR FOR REGAN VERSUS JIMMIE? "No, he (Regan) fits in the car really well. It is really, really close. If it gets to the point where he needs to drive the car in the race, we'll need to make some small modifications to it. But, for what he is going to be doing, we don't really change much at all."
HOW MUCH OF A CHANCE IS THERE THAT HE WILL HAVE TO DRIVE THE CAR IN THE RACE? "Very slim."
DID YOU DISCUSS AT ALL HIM MISSING TOMORROW'S RACE? "We did talk about him not attending the race. It would have had to have been because of some form of complication, or the baby came later today than what we had anticipated. But since she came at a reasonable hour, and Jimmie is going to be able to take the day off, he feels like he will be well-rested and be able to come out here and perform the way he needs to tomorrow night."
IT'S BEEN A ROUGH STRETCH FOR THE TEAM LATELY, HASN'T IT?
"Oh yeah, absolutely. It's been tough but the thing is our cars have actually been very fast. At Atlanta we were running well and everything was going to be fine. At Michigan, we were clearly very, very fast in both race cars; and at Pocono we were fast, and so on and so forth. So, it's unfortunate that we've had these situations, but quite honestly, it's actually helped us, because our team was a little rusty on fixing crashes and repairs and on-road stuff. And it's given our guys an opportunity to get back in the swing of things. So, if it were ever to happen, it was a great time for it to have happened. And we're looking forward to the next 11 weeks. We feel like our race cars have been super-fast every weekend. We've qualified well. We've run very fast in the back-up cars, so we feel like we've got the packages that we need. We've just got to try to get out there and not have these silly problems."
DO YOU EXPECT ALL HELL TO BREAK LOOSE HERE AT RICHMOND? NOT SO MUCH FOR YOUR TEAM, BUT IN GENERAL BECAUSE OF THE WILD CARD SCENARIOS?
"Yeah, it's crazy. There are a lot of different scenarios that are going to potentially play out. I'm glad I'm not involved in it, how's that? We were talking about it in the competition meeting the other day and I was like darn, can I just stay home and not even get in this mess? Because it's going to be show, I can tell you that. But it's going to be exciting and that's what we want. We've seen it year in and year out, that coming into Richmond a lot of guys and a lot of players make some petty critical decisions to take them out or put them into the Chase."
WILL THE NEW DAUGHTER BE LIKE A BREATH OF FRESH AIR AND MAYBE CHANGE THE BACK LUCK YOU GUYS HAVE BEEN HAVING FOR THE LAST COUPLE OF WEEKS?
"I hope she brings us good luck. I don't know. I'll take it. That's good luck, yes. Absolutely Everything from here on out is going to be perfect. How's that? (laughs)"
YOU HAVE BEEN THE POINTS LEADER FOR MOST OF THE YEAR, BUT MOST LIKELY WON'T BE FOR THE START OF THE CHASE UNLESS YOU WIN SATURDAY NIGHT
"Oh, so you're counting us out already?"
OH, NO, I'M NOT. BUT HOW WOULD THAT AFFECT THE TEAM?
"Not at all. Not at all. We've started the Chase in a lot of different scenarios. We've started leading the points. We've started 10th in points. We've started Chases with DNF's and been able to come back and run competitively. So, we don't really focus on that stuff as much as everybody else does. We focus on how the team is performing. We focus on what we're capable of doing and how we're going to approach the situation. And right now, we're coming in with our heads high and our shoulders back and we're ready to go. We feel very confident that we've got a great race team and a great driver and good race cars; and we can go out there and race our way into this championship."
WILL YOUR DAY TODAY BE SPENT CONCENTRATING JUST ON QUALIFYING?
"We're going to do some race runs in the first practice session and then we're going to switch over to qualifying trim the second practice. We were fortunate enough to be here for the test a few weeks ago and we were able to test during the nighttime hours, so we feel confident that the set-up that we have for the No. 48 car is going to be good at night."
IS THE FACT THAT YOU TESTED AT NIGHT ACTUALLY MORE BENEFICIAL THAN ANY PRACTICE YOU WOULD HAVE GOTTEN TODAY?
"Yeah, basically. Today is going to be mainly to get Regan (Smith) acclimated to the race car again and try to turn some fast laps and try to get a solid qualifying effort."