JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS - FINISHED THIRD THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY'S RACE: "The kind of day it started to be for us, to come home third, obviously, I've got to be very, very happy. I didn't really want to see that last caution. We...
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS - FINISHED THIRD
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY'S RACE:
"The kind of day it started to be for us, to come home third, obviously, I've got to be very, very happy. I didn't really want to see that last caution. We were real, real tight on those new tires at the end. But man, we made such great ground up throughout the day, to go all the way to the back and we were fortunate to stay on the lead lap. It was certainly a lot of work; a handful for us today. Not a lot of fun at times but there at the end it was just fun to be racing with those guys. I don't even think I had anything for Kyle (Busch) with my new tires. We were just too tight and I knew that Jeff (Burton) would be tough on that restart. I made a mistake - I went to the inside. I don't think it would have mattered. Jeff would have drove by me on the inside if I would have gone on the outside. But I'm very happy to come home third."
ON USING THE BUMPER TO MOVE CARS OUT OF THE WAY:
"The bumpers certainly line up a lot different too. In the past when you just got a bumper on the guy it lifted the back of the car. These cars push it forward. I think it's a lot different when you're running late in the race and you run a guy down from the straightaway back and then he puts a block on you, trying to protect his spot. Then you might be like, 'okay, I get one shot.' But when it's a green-white checkered (flag) you never really want to move anybody out of the way for a win. You certainly don't want to take a chance at wrecking them.
"We've seen it happen here probably more than anywhere. If a guy races you clean you usually race him clean. Jeff has always raced me clean and I try to always race him clean. Kevin Harvick was very good to me, I can tell you that. He had every opportunity to move me on that last corner and he didn't. There was some great racing going on in the front there for first and second. I still thought that Jeff was going to get it and I saw Kyle drive into the corner of the first turn so hard I didn't think he would ever make it. So you've got to give your hat off to him for his effort."
IS THE CAR JUST GOING TO TAKE SOME TIME TO GET USED TO?
"I didn't feel like my car handled as good as what we've had in the past. I was just real loose getting in to get it to turn through the middle. I think that we certainly made improvements from the test and I think we'll continue to make improvements but we're so limited to what we can do to fix some of the issues that we have with the car. We're going to learn and get better and smarter like we always do but there's some things that you might not be able to fix. That's why they brought it here for the first race. It was smart on NASCAR's part to bring this car here because you're going to have a good, exciting race and the cars are going to handle kind of the way that they do here. You're going to be kind of loose getting in and sometimes tight in the middle, loose off and that's what we had today. Maybe it's a little exaggerated compared to normal but that's what we had. Let's go to Martinsville and I think it will be fairly similar. Then let's go to Darlington and I think Darlington's going to be the first race that we really kind of see what this thing's going to be all about. Until we get to Kansas or Chicago or one of those tracks I don't know if we're ever really going to see. I guess maybe Phoenix and Darlington (will be ones)."
ON THE NEW RACE CAR:
"The only thing I'd like to add to that and not that I disagree with Jeff is that we're comparing it to the current car. The current car drives better, it's got more downforce, it's got more grip, it has better feel; it just feels better. So if you compare it to that car you're not going to like it. If NASCAR sees the results that they want to see on the race track then we need to get rid of the Monte Carlo and just go to this thing because you're never going to like it compared to the car that we have. We're stepping backwards in a lot of ways and if it's safer and the racing is better, I'm all for it. It's going to make it more difficult for the driver and the teams to get this car hooked up but if it makes for better racing and more entertainment then I think it's good for the sport. We can't answer that question this weekend. As long as it's pretty decent and comparable to what we've had in the past then I think that's a step forward. I agree with Jeff - it is what it is and if this is what NASCAR agrees on that this is what we're going to race then we're going to go race it. It doesn't matter whether we like it or not."
HOW FRUSTRATED WERE YOU WHEN YOU WERE FLIRTING WITH THE END OF THE LEAD LAP THERE EARLY AND WHAT DID YOU DO TO GET THE CAR BETTER?
"It was very frustrating. We started out very loose. Yesterday we fought tight, tight, tight so we loosened the car and we did it too much. There were only so many adjustments that we could make to get that looseness out of it. But we did make some big ground up. I felt like we really were too stiff in the right rear with this car and luckily we were adjustable and pulled spring rubbers out of the right rear. That helped secure the car a little bit getting into the corner. Then we just started playing around with air pressure and bite and all these things and all these things that we typically do but nothing seemed to make it great, it just made it better. Luckily it was better enough that on the long runs we were pretty good. We were never good on the short runs and I really wanted to see the thing go all the way there that one time we came in with like, 86 (laps) to go."
YOU SAID YOU'VE NEVER USED YOUR BRAKES SO MUCH AT BRISTOL BEFORE. DO YOU EXPECT THAT TO BE THE SAME AT MARTINSVILLE?
"Thanks for pointing that out (laughs). I just mentioned that to Jeff here actually. I'm pretty concerned with brakes at Martinsville. I used more brakes here today trying to get this car into the corner because it just seems to carry so much momentum in there. Of course, it was pretty loose anyway getting into the corner. I used up more brake than I ever have here at Bristol so that tells me that Martinsville we're probably going to have a lot of the same and use up a lot of brake there. Now we can go with a little bit different cooling package there than what we had here but we did upgrade our brakes here just in case and played it conservative. We'll go ultra-conservative on that same side, all the way maxed-out for brakes and cooling for next week."
DESCRIBE THE FINAL RESTART:
"I made a mistake. I had a run on him and I went to the inside. I really felt like Jeff was the one that was in the best position because one, his car was handling a lot better. He had fresh tires as well and I felt like if I went to the inside he was going to go to the outside and if I went to the outside he was going to go to the inside. But I got the momentum and I went to the inside. As soon as Kyle started to come down on me I had my hands tied behind my back. Rick Hendrick already came on the radio and said 'hey, buddy, let's look at the big picture!' So I pretty much knew that I couldn't put a fender on Kyle when he came down on me and didn't want to. I knew right then that I was least going to lose one position and I thought 'let's not try to lose too many positions here'."
YOU TALKED ABOUT TAKING CARE OF THE FRONT END AND THE CAR HOPPING AROUND. HOW MUCH DID THAT PLAY INTO TODAY?
"There was a wreck one time and Bobby Labonte slowed up in front of me and I couldn't slow in time. I ran hard into the back of him and I was really concerned. I thought we were going to have a lot more damage come in the way that radiator opening is. There's just some unknowns but we had no problems. I was pretty impressed with that and it didn't seem like it did too much damage to Bobby. It didn't spin him out which was nice. In the past, when you get on the brakes your car lifts up and you go underneath the guy, it usually spins him out. So I thought that was a plus. That ought to be interesting when we get to Talladega. There were positives that came out of today. I think we learned some things about the car but like Jeff said, we all kind of expected that Bristol wasn't going to be some kind of big revelation and all of a sudden we were going to have a great race. I will say that whether it was the car that we had today or whether the older car would have done this but we made some passes on the outside that I was pretty surprised by. Coming through the field on some lapped cars, usually you're hunting for the bottom and we could dig up there on the outside for a couple of laps. It was more because we were just killing guys' momentum on the inside than having more grip on the outside. Still, I thought that was pretty interesting that we were able to do that so I saw some positives. I'm still not crazy on this thing but it's growing on me."
DO YOU THINK THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN A DIFFERENT FINISH IF KYLE WAS NOT YOUR TEAMMATE?
"Well, who knows because if I would have gotten into whoever it was, whether him or anybody else, who knows whether it would have taken me out at the same time. I made the mistake by going to the inside so it wasn't my way to fix the mistake by taking the guy out because he ran me down to the infield. I probably, maybe would have put a little more pressure on him but I knew no matter what he was going to put up a heck of a fight. He's a very, very aggressive driver and like Jeff said, it's who you're racing. If you're racing your teammate, you're going to race him one way. If you're racing a guy you have history with you're going to race them differently. If you're racing a guy that races you good and clean you're going to race him good and clean. You're going to try to win the thing fair and square. I didn't think we had a shot at the thing anyway. I'm just happy to finish third."
-credit: gm racing