SCR: What changes would you make if you were in charge of NASCAR?

JOHNSON: "I wouldn't make any changes, because NASCAR has a good organization. They're well-positioned in the marketplaces.

"I do think the sponsorship for the cars is running away, and if anything hurts it, that's what it's going to be.

"It's just too expensive. It does not that much money to run a race car. Somebody's pocketing a lot of money. Somebody's making it expensive because the more money they get, the more lucrative life they live. I don't oppose that, if they can get the sponsorship to afford it."

SCR: How much money do you think it would cost to run a team?

JOHNSON: "I see the engineering side of it. Somebody told me that the Chevrolet teams at Daytona, especially Rick Hendrick's, had like 10 engineers down there and all that stuff.

"A car is a tool that you gotta drive it, you gotta fix it to where you can drive it, and that's not changed.

"They're basically running the same chassis they ran when I was in it. I'm a big part of the creation of that chassis stuff. From my experience, I don't see that they've done anything to advance that.

"Aerodynamics is a big factor. They do have some play into that. But the wind tunnel is what does it. We've always been going to the wind tunnel. That's where we've learned everything we've learned. . . .

"If an engineer is what it takes to do that, then it's changed a lot since I left it. We had people who did it who weren't engineers and done very well at it. So I think it's more hard work than anything else.

"I've dealt with engineers my whole career in racing. They can have an influence on it. But if I had to have them to race with, I couldn't race 'em. I had to race a race car and use the people I hired to do the job. Some of that information [from engineers] weren't worth a damn to me."

SCR: Has NASCAR turned its back on tradition in recent years?

JOHNSON: Probably NASCAR hasn't, but I think at times the demand on sponsorship and stuff like that has changed.

"And the teams, the sponsors have put more demand on them. I think NASCAR is pretty basic, down the road, just like it's always been. Put on a good show. Run an organization professionally. Treat everybody fairly. And have a good day at the race track. That's basically been their goal all along."