JEFF GORDON , NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - 2nd "It was really an up and down day. We started off the race and that wreck happened in Turn 1. We seemed to get the worst of it. All the points guys were right there around us. We seemed to...
JEFF GORDON , NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - 2nd
"It was really an up and down day. We started off the race and that wreck happened in Turn 1. We seemed to get the worst of it. All the points guys were right there around us. We seemed to get the worst of it. That was disappointing to fall that far behind to fix some damage. We took off really good and then got completely loose and sideways. I couldn't drive it. We needed a caution really bad. I didn't realize we were going to be the caution. But I just couldn't hang onto it anymore. The car came around on me there coming off Turn 4 and I just tried to hang on to it. I hated that Rusty got caught up in it. But we were able to make some big adjustments and the car really came to life. We drove from a long ways back. This team deserves so much credit. All year long this is the kind of fight and effort that they've put out. That's why we've been in this position for the championship. We just never give up on it. I just love the fact that they believe in me and I believe in them. There were so many moments today when we could have crumbled. But we stayed calm and came back.
"What an amazing finish. I was just happy to be in top ten at one time. The last pit stop the guys made was phenomenal. And then I thought we might have a shot at winning it. Congratulations to Jimmie Johnson to finish one-two for Hendrick Motorsports."
WERE YOU FOCUSED ON THE POINTS SITUATION AS YOU BATTLED BACK?
"Oh, yeah. We want to make up points. But today, it was looking like today that we were going to lose so many and that could be the difference of taking us out of the championship. Now we're still in the thick of things. We gained a few points, but didn't gain as many as we would have liked to. But we did finish ahead of those guys and I think we made a statement. We did what we came in here to do, but we didn't know we were going to have to work that hard for it."
DOES YOUR EXPERIENCE HELP YOU TO OVERCOME EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENED TONIGHT?
"I guess so. A lot of the members of this team were here when we won the championship in 2001. The chemistry on top of the experience we have allows us to be a very good team and make comebacks. We would love to win this thing, but it's hard to pick anybody who is a favorite right now. I know the past experience plays a role, but when you look at the way the championship is this year, I just think it's putting the best car and team out there week in and week out."
ON GOOD MOMENTUM GOING TO MARTINSVILLE
"That's what we really accomplished here today. My guys had the biggest smiles on their faces today. They couldn't have been happier. This was a confidence booster. We have been down the last few weeks. We haven't performed or we haven't had things going our way. We needed a top five and to get up there and battle like that. The way we did it today was even better for us. To take that momentum into Martinsville is great. I wish they hadn't repaved Martinsville so early because I think we had a big edge on the competition with the old conditions. The new conditions are closing the competition up on us a little bit. And I'm hoping we can still have the kind of performance we've had there in the past. But this will really give us a shot in the arm going there next weekend."
DO YOU THINK THE TEAM HAS REACHED ITS POTENTIAL?
"That was the greatest comeback in second place finish I've ever experienced. I think they exceeded their potential tonight. At the same time, it was disappointing to start the race out the way we did. We can't afford to allow that to happen. I'm a part of that too. We've got to qualify better. We have some things to do, but this will hopefully give us what we needed morale-wise. When you look at the intensity level and pressure on everybody, this was an important race for us."
ONLY THREE DRIVERS ARE WITHIN 100 POINTS OF EACH OTHER. HAS THIS BOILED DOWN TO A THREE-MAN RACE?
"It depends on whether any of us have trouble. Right now, I'm 74 point off and I feel like I'm a long way out. Busch and Junior are strong every week. They're out front leading laps and battling for wins. It only takes one slip or one mistake or accident. I'm not thinking about that a lot. I'm just trying to focus on what we need to do and try to finish ahead of these guys like we did tonight."