JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DuPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: Qualified 2nd: IS IT FRUSTRATING TO PUT A GOOD LAP ON THE BOARD AND THEN HAVE RYAN NEWMAN KNOCK YOU OFF THE TOP? "I'm just happy to be in the Media Center after qualifying. It's been a while for...
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DuPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: Qualified 2nd:
IS IT FRUSTRATING TO PUT A GOOD LAP ON THE BOARD AND THEN HAVE RYAN NEWMAN KNOCK YOU OFF THE TOP? "I'm just happy to be in the Media Center after qualifying. It's been a while for me. You can't be upset. Those guys (No. 12 team) are on their game. It's our job to knock them off. For me, I'm probably a little bit frustrated because when I went out fairly early and put up a good lap, I expected somebody to beat me long before him and when nobody did, then you get your hopes up. I certainly had my hopes up. I saw his first lap and knew he was going to run a second lap. He'd been picking up on his second lap all day. So, it really didn't surprise me but sure, it's frustrating. You want to be number one, but on the other hand I'm pretty happy to be (starting) on that front row."
ANY WORDS TO THE WISE FOR RYAN NEWMAN ABOUT HIS STREAK? "I don't think I need to be giving him any words of wisdom except maybe to enjoy it while it lasts (laughs). You have good strings and you have bad strings. You take the good with the bad. When things are going that well for you, you definitely have to try to appreciate them and enjoy them. I think what happens when you do get on a roll like that, you just build your confidence. It builds the team's confidence. Everything that he says to them, they trust and believe in him on that and vice versa. That's what makes a great team and that's what wins races. And they're winning a lot of races right now.
"I think what makes it even more frustrating right now is that it's so hard to win. It's so competitive and there are so many guys who can win so you think there isn't a car that can dominate and then they've been able to do it. I remember in '98 when we won a bunch of races. There were probably six races we shouldn't have won. Call it being smart or being lucky or whatever, we were very fortunate and we had a great team and fast race cars. That's the way I look at Ryan Newman right now. The team is good. They're fast. Of course that fuel mileage doesn't hurt either."
PENSKE IS SPENDING A LOT OF MONEY - INCLUDING TESTING WIND TUNNEL MODELS THAT COST A MILLION DOLLARS EACH. ARE YOU LOOKING AT SPENDING A LOT MORE MONEY ON TECHNOLOGY? "We don't spare many expenses over at Hendrick Motorsports. Roger Penske has always been known for putting a lot of money into engineering. They can probably carry a lot of technology that they share with Indy Car teams as well as NASCAR teams. But we're not spending a million dollars on models where we're at so maybe we'll have to talk Rick (Hendrick) into that one.
"I don't know what they're doing but they're doing it right. This car that we're running here tonight is a brand new car. I've never sat in this race car except for the other day to pour a seat molding. It's been in the wind tunnel a couple of times and we're confident enough with it to bring it here. It tells you a lot about where the sport is heading and where it's at today. It doesn't surprise me that they're doing the quarter-scale models. We've talked about doing stuff like that and we didn't feel like it was the right direction for us. We like the wind tunnel and the rolling wind tunnel a lot more."
WHAT'S IT GOING TO TAKE TO KEEP SATURDAY NIGHT'S EVENT FROM BECOMING A FUEL MILEAGE RACE? "You can pass better on this track. In Turns 3 and 4, you can run at the bottom, the middle, the top - you can run all over the place. At some of the new tracks, there is really only one lane that's the fastest and that's right around the bottom - especially on new tires. Fuel mileage comes down to when the cautions fall. If the caution falls at the right time in somebody's window, it might work out. Track position is important here but it's not as important as it is at other tracks."
AS A DRIVER, WHAT CAN YOU DO TO IMPROVE FUEL MILEAGE? "I haven't won one (fuel mileage race) in about five years. So obviously I'm not very good at it."
IF YOU SCALE BACK ON SPEED TO CONSERVE, DOESN'T THAT GO AGAINST GOING FAST, WHICH IS WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT? "It's not about going fast, it's about winning. And whatever it takes to win, that's what you do. It doesn't matter how you get there as long as you get there."
IS IT UNUSUAL THAT ALL THESE QUESTIONS FROM THE MEDIA ARE ALL ABOUT THE NO. 12 TEAM AND FUEL MILEAGE AND NOTHING ABOUT WHAT YOU'RE DOING OR WHAT YOU'VE DONE AT THIS TRACK? "It's not about us right now. It's no different that when we go to Talladega or Daytona and you talk about DEI. It's the same thing. He's (Ryan Newman) hot right now. You talk about a guy when he's winning. That's why it cracks me up when I see all this other off-track stuff. You can go out there and win a lot of races and that's when you're going to get their attention. That's the kind of attention that I want and I'd like to get back there."
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT MOVING THIS RACE TO SATURDAY NIGHT AS OPPOSED TO SUNDAY AFTERNOON? "I'm pumped because we went from about 11th place on the board after practice to second in qualifying. I wasn't really expecting to get the pole today. I just got my hopes up when I ran that lap. We've got a car that's basically brand new. We're going to go out there tomorrow night and just really work hard on getting the balance. Jimmie (Johnson) has a really good baseline. They've been very good here the last couple of times. We've been good, but not good enough. That's why we've got a new race car here and we're going to be looking at gathering information like what our teams have and just try to put the best package under our car. When we start up there, we want to stay up there all night long. We want to put ourselves in position toward the end of the race to win."