Red Bull Frozen Rush: Ricky Johnson Interview Transcript (Thursday)

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RICKY JOHNSON

#48 Red Bull/KMC Wheels/Discount Tire Ford

Red Bull Frozen Rush

January 9, 2014

Johnson comes into this year’s Frozen Rush with a slight advantage on the rest of the field, having driven on the same BFGoodrich snow tires during the demonstration event at Mount Snow last year. He earned the sixth spot in qualifying after an incident.

You had some of the most interesting experiences out on the track today. It looked like the truck wasn’t handling well toward the end of your qualifying run. Behind the wheel, what exactly was happening out there, and what was going through your mind while you were handling it?

Well, with the ice, BFGoodrich has made the studded tires, and these are way more aggressive—they’re not like bolts and stuff on the rally cars. So with the truck being heavier, how much suspension it wants to set, and with the spiked tires, you’re just off a little bit. I was pushing the first lap and I over rotated. We have a right and a double brake in the car, a right and left pedal, I was on just the rear pedal, and I over rotated. I went to dab the brake just a little to catch it and I hit the rear pedal again—I over rotated more, then I was kind of just a sitting duck, slid into the concrete wall, did some cosmetic damage to the front of the truck, lost over five seconds screwing around and getting back on course.

My second lap I felt pretty good, I was the second fastest guy. The course was in really bad condition and I was only four tenths of a second off the quickest lap on the second lap, so when I had a clean lap I’m in contention for the podium. That’s what I’m more concerned about than if any more drivers will make mistakes.

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Out of the field of eight, you were the one guy who did this last year. Does having some advantage in taking the Pro 4 on the ice really come into play here?

We have a situation that last year I got to go out and have fun. I made sure that I didn’t kill the track—that I used the inside, the outside, the middle so I could have a good time the whole time. Now everybody’s racing for the same line, everybody’s looking for that and the snow is getting chewed up really quick. Any advantage that I had because I wasn’t pushing as hard last year, went out the window.

You’re not just racing against the whole field, youre also racing against teammate Bryce Menzies. Do you two have a little bit of a friendly bet going on in this as to who’ll do better?

No, our job is to help each other. Our job is to make sure, as Red Bull athletes, that a Red Bull athlete wins this event. We have the best guys in the world in Pro 4 so there’s no gimme here. If one guy makes one mistake, he’s not going to win this event. It’s the guy who’s perfect and fast and so that’s a fine line that you’re riding right there. With Bryce, I give him as much help as I can, anything that I find I tell him—but if we line up head-to-head for the finale, I’m gonna whip his ass.

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