Part 1 of 2 JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVY MONTE CARLO (winner; first win of season): WERE YOU SO HUNGRY FOR A WIN THAT YOU WOULD DO ALMOST ANYTHING? "Pretty much. I think the opportunity presented itself and reminded me a lot of the one...
Part 1 of 2
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVY MONTE CARLO (winner; first win of season):
WERE YOU SO HUNGRY FOR A WIN THAT YOU WOULD DO ALMOST ANYTHING?
"Pretty much. I think the opportunity presented itself and reminded me a lot of the one time when I passed Rusty here kind of the same way when we came up on lapped traffic. We were both pushing the cars extremely hard. Every once in a while we both would get really sideways up off the corner. And he got sideways. I think he was trying to pass somebody. And I jumped up there on him, went to make a move and he shut the door on me. After that I was glued to his bumper and he didn't have to do much for me to be there and give him a little tap. It is Bristol and I was really hungry. I wanted to get to that victory lane bad and we did. We achieved what we wanted to and got to victory lane. Never done it as a night race. It might be a little controversial, but I don't care. I'm just glad to be sitting right here right now. I think that anybody else in that position would have pretty much done the same thing. I got moved out of the way a couple of times tonight by some guys and it wasn't even at the end for the win. I can only imagine what would happen at the end for the win."
RUSTY SAID NEMECHEK PLAYED A PART BECAUSE HE WOULDN'T GET OUT OF HIS WAY?
"I don't remember. I don't know who the car was. The thing that Nemechek could've done to help me was to get up high and just move over so both of us could just battle it out. I don't think there was any intention or any plans there. I just think that it just however you catch lapped traffic and how it works out for you. It definitely held him up and allowed me to really close the gap. Lapped traffic plays a big role here. Had that not happened I don't know if I could've gotten him, unless he made a mistake and came up on lapped traffic, held him up, some bobble a little bit. I was on him."
YOU AND OTHER GUYS HAVE BECOME TECHNICIANS AT THIS KIND OF MOVE. WHAT'S GOING TO BE JUDGED TO BE PROPER, WHAT GOES TOO FAR?
"He didn't hit anything, so I thought that was proper. I don't know, Man. You don't think about that at the time. You're just racing as hard as you can. At a short track like Bristol or Martinsville, if you can get to the rear bumper and give him a light tap it's going to happen. You expect it to happen to you and they should expect to have it happen to them, especially in the closing laps. I don't think there are two guys out there that are more hungry than me and Rusty right now. He hasn't won in a while and I hadn't won in a while. Both of us came on a mission. He tested here real well. We sat on the pole and felt like we missed an opportunity the last time we were here. You see yourself that close and you like, Oh, my gosh, I do not let this opportunity get away. And as soon as he bobbled all I knew was that I was going to get my bumper as close to his as possible and if I touched him I touched him. I didn't go in there just letting off the brakes, just trying to slam into him. I just went in there and just waited to see what would happen. You get up on a guy that close, even though we're going 100 miles an hour here, it's still affects the cars."
WHEN YOU MOVED HIM, THIS PLACE WENT UP IN CHEERS. DOES THIS GIVE YOU A TOUGH-GUY IMAGE?
"I don't know. It would be unusual to know that they were cheering. Maybe it was sympathy. I don't know. I just think the fans here at Bristol love to see an exciting race. They love to see the bumping and the banging and the fast pace. They're fired up here; the lights are on. It's electrifying, as much for the drivers as it is for the fans. I think that their wish is that it comes down to a Rusty/Jeff battle to the finish and some bumping and banging going on. They eat that stuff up. I think if I hadn't done that they probably would have booed me."
HOW MUCH HAS THE LOSING STREAK BEEN WEARING ON YOU?
"I don't think the losing streak was wearing on me as much as just maybe missed opportunities or not being able to capitalize on some good cars that we've had. I know that if this team is in position at the end of the race, if we're in the top four or five week in and week out we're going to win races. And we had not put ourselves in that position. That got frustrating. It wasn't so much that we weren't winning. I think the lack of DNFs and team moral kept the glue together. If these guys started thinking twice about being on our team, thinking twice and pointing fingers at one another the whole thing would have fallen apart. I cannot tell you what this is going to do, though. It's not like everybody is walking around with big smiles on their faces. They knew that they just needed to stick together and they did. A win and this type of exciting weekend for us, it's going to do a lot for us. We're really excited about getting to Darlington."
WAS THIS A TOUGH RACE EVEN FOR BRISTOL?
"Gosh, I thought they were all (tough). I don't know. I was pretty fortunate to be up front most of the night. I know that it gets tougher to pass here every time we come back, It doesn't matter where we go, if it's tough pass you're going to see guys moving guys out of the way either with air or with the bumper. And anytime you go to a place where you have to do that you're going to see cautions, you're going to see wrecks. I thought that that's pretty much characteristic of this place. It does seem to get tougher to pass each time we come back.
HOW BIG IS THIS WIN?
"I just think it's so big, period. It feels like the first one all over again. I can tell you we do not take wins for granted. These things are hard to come by and we appreciate them and that moment there in victory lane I wanted to pause it and burn it into my memory forever because it's just such an awesome, awesome feeling too. There's just no other high in the world like it to be able to experience that and to see the look on these guys' face and the excitement in their voice. I don't know how to describe it; it's just big. As far as the championship, I think it just kind of serves notice to a lot of people that we're not out of it, don't count us out. That when things go our way, like they did tonight, we are going to be able to stay on top of things and get to victory lane."
WAS THERE A POINT IN THE SEASON WHEN YOU DIDN'T THINK YOU WOULD GET BACK IN THIS THING?
"I still think we've got some work to do at the superspeedways. This is a short track. I think we kind of separate that from a lot of other tracks. I'm looking forward to going to Darlington. We were good at Darlington the last time we were there. I'm excited about getting back there. I'm not saying that now suddenly we're just going to run away with it. We still got a lot of hard work left ahead of us. I think this is just such a great step in the right direction. It's going to do so much for the team morale. And sometimes the whole morale and attitude can take you up several notches performance-wise. I know it's going to do a lot for my confidence. Nobody's working harder out there to win races every weekend and to do everything to be championships at the end of this year. We know we're not out of it at all. Never have counted ourselves out of it. But we just knew that if we were going to be a threat we got to start performing. Hopefully this is the first step to that."
BASED ON SOMETHING YOU SAID AFTER THE RACE, DOES THIS MEAN WAR (WITH RUSTY)?
"Does anybody remind him of Richmond a couple of years ago? He didn't hit the wall. I hit the wall hard."
WHAT DO YOU DO NEXT, DO YOU TALK TO HIM OR DO YOU WATCH YOUR BACK?
"If he wants to pay me back, if that's the way he wants to go about it. I've been knocked around, I've been moved out of the way, and I've been wrecked. I go to the next race, focus on what I've got to do, not taking guys out and doing paybacks. Rusty and I, we've been racing for a while. It's the heat of the moment, what do you expect him to say? He's going to be upset, he lost the race and he wanted it as bad as I did. I don't expect him to be happy. We may talk, we may not talk. We'll just kind of go to Darlington and see what happens. I'm not calling him. He didn't call me. But we've become much closer and better friends over the years. I think that he and I both have respect for one another and know how we can race with (each other)."
Winning team press conference, part II