JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: YOU ALMOST GOT ANOTHER POLE HERE... "Well, almost because I was second - not almost if you look at the times. My God - that's an unbelievable lap that Ryan put out there. Those guys have got to...
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
YOU ALMOST GOT ANOTHER POLE HERE... "Well, almost because I was second - not almost if you look at the times. My God - that's an unbelievable lap that Ryan put out there. Those guys have got to be real proud of that. But, I was extremely happy all day. The car was great in qualifying. I don't know how we could have gone much faster. I certainly don't know how I could have gone fast enough to beat Ryan. But, the car felt great. It was balanced, fast and it's another good starting position at Bristol, so we're real happy with that."
YOU FEEL GOOD ABOUT YOUR CHANCES SUNDAY? ": Absolutely. Once you get in the race things change quite a bit. We'll come in here tomorrow and know we've got great pit location, great starting position and get ready to go racing and get the car balanced on the long run."
HOW WAS THE CAR FOR QUALIFYING? "It's as good as any car I've ever had here - as good as I could have expected. When I finished with the lap I couldn't have been more pleased. The car did everything I wanted it to do. That's the fastest I had gone all day. I'll be honest, when I ran the lap and they told me my time, I thought the way it felt it felt like a 14.99 or 15-flat. They said, '15.06,' and I was like, 'Good lap, but I think that somebody is going to beat it.' I didn't expect somebody to beat it by two tenths almost."
DOES THE CAR FEEL AS FAST HERE AS IT LOOKS? "It feels a lot faster from where I'm sitting than it looks, I can tell you that. It's so funny. I was thinking this earlier when I made some of the first laps.
"We go to Atlanta and Charlotte or Daytona or wherever and the cars look pretty darn fast on the racetrack, but inside they don't feel as fast. Here, it's the exact opposite. They don't look as fast when you're watching them as they actually feel when you're in the seat driving them."
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO GET TWO MORE TENTHS OUT OF A CAR? "I don't know. It's Bristol and it can't be horsepower, handling - it's just flat-out getting after it and just go racing. This is one of those places where you run extremely hard and aggressive. Like I said, my car was balanced. It came off the corner great. It drove in the corner great. I got back in the gas hard. It did everything I wanted it to do and I was pleased."
ON BEING SECOND ON THE LAST LAP OF THIS RACE "I'm not sure I've been second too many times on the last lap. I'm either first or I'm like not in the ballpark. It just depends on how close you are. I've said it several times. I think if you're at Bristol or Martinsville, if you're leading the race and you let that guy get to you, you'd better expect it coming and vice-versa. I say that knowing that I might be in that position, leading and there might be somebody behind me. It might be Rusty. It might be somebody else. Knowing my history here, I don't think it necessarily has to be Rusty. I think it could be anybody else. They'd say, 'Well heck, if he was behind me I know what he would do to me.'
"Just don't wreck me. Knock me out of the way, but at least let me come back to the finish line."
WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE MORE FINISHES LIKE LAST WEEK? "I think wins are much harder to come by these days. You look at Ricky Craven in that position - and Kurt. They both are just really hungry, wanting to win. You don't know when those things are going to come around. That is what you're going to see. If you see two guys that are close and have a shot at that win, you're going to see both of them get everything they possibly can - even if it means tearing the cars up. That was a wheel to wheel deal where they just stood on the gas and drove into one another and just said, 'Who is going to slide across the line first?' I don't think there are too many guys in the Winston Cup garage that aren't hungry enough to do that to try to get a win."
WHY IS QUALIFYING UP FRONT SO MUCH MORE IMPORTANT HERE? "We're seeing qualifying become so important everywhere because track position and the aero-thing is the deal everywhere else. Here it's a one-groove racetrack, so it's extremely hard to pass. You'll work on a guy for 10, 20 laps hoping he make a mistake to even get your nose up underneath him if you're faster. Then, if he doesn't do that then you kind of force him to make a mistake. It doesn't guarantee you anything, but it certainly helps to kind of get yourself into a pace, not to mention a great place to pit your car on pit road."
ON KNOCKING SOMEONE OUT OF THE WAY HERE "I think it's a little ridiculous to do that early in the race. You've got a long way ahead of you. You don't need to make enemies early in the race. You'll be a lot more patient before you move a guy out of your way early in the race than you would at the end of the race. At the end of the race, you're coming down the finish - especially if you're going for the win. Basically, at the end of the race you'll let that guy block you once. At the beginning of the race you'll let him block you four or five times before you go ahead and use a bumper or do something to move him out of the way."