Chicagoland: Winning team press conference, part 1

Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Monte Carlo SS Captures First Career Win at Chicagoland Post Race Transcript RACE WINNER JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT MONTE CARLO SS AND CREW CHIEF, STEVE LETARTE - TRANSCRIPT: JEFF GORDON: Awesome race car. They...

Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Monte Carlo SS Captures First Career Win at Chicagoland
Post Race Transcript

RACE WINNER JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT MONTE CARLO SS AND CREW CHIEF, STEVE LETARTE - TRANSCRIPT:

JEFF GORDON: Awesome race car. They dropped the green and we just started passing cars and driving to the front, and the car just never changed all day. I mean, we made a few adjustments, put some rubber down, got a little slicker, pace slowed down and we made a few little adjustments. The car was just amazing. Awesome there to be battling at the end.

We never really got the track position. When we started 11th, we got the lead that one time, but we've been getting ourselves caught out on some pit strategy lately, and we wanted to stick with being conservative and making sure that we get ourselves some valuable points that we need for that Chase, and we also want to put ourselves in position to win the race, and Steve felt like four tires was the way to go. Because of that, it was really hard for us to get enough laps going to get that track position that we needed.

Finally there at the end we got into 2nd, and Matt (Kenseth) was strong. He was so strong on the short runs, and we just needed some long green flag runs, and we finally got it, and unfortunately there was only five to go when we caught him, and then unfortunately we got together.

I definitely felt like I had a better car, was going to be tough to pass him. We come up on the lap car and I think that had a lot to do with it because I got a run on him going into 1 and I dove underneath him trying to see if I could get him to overdrive the corner a little bit, and he cut down in front of me and then I got back in the gas early, and I don't know if that car affected him, but he had been getting off there so good and he didn't that time, and I drove right in the back of him. I didn't mean to wreck him, but I didn't mind moving him out of the way, either.

I wanted to win, I was hungry for it, this team deserved it, and they worked hard to put such a great race car out there. I couldn't be more proud of that effort, and I hate to see that that incident with Matt is going to overshadow that a little bit, but still, it's a great victory for us.

Q: Regardless of the overshadowing or whatever by the wreck, is this a huge indication to you that you're back in contention for the Chase? This good a run, is the overwhelming thing you get out of this race being so good on an intermediate track where it's so important?

JEFF GORDON: Regardless of where we finished today, I was going to feel that way. What a race car. You know, I mean, it wasn't just like all of a sudden I showed up at the race track today. I mean, those guys just gave me one heck of a race car and I was driving the wheels off it. I am beat, man. I'll be honest, I am worn out because it was such a good race car that I wanted to give it everything I had and wanted so bad to pull into victory lane for that effort and just a job that's just such a well?done job for these guys. We've been working so hard to get our mile and a half program where it needs to be, and today was a true sign of us making some huge headway.

Obviously to make the Chase, you've got to do more than just run good. You've got to be consistent, and we haven't had that consistency here lately, but we certainly have had the performance a bunch. So this is going to do a lot for our race team. I'll really excited about a lot of things coming up. I feel like this is definitely ?? I don't want to say a check mark off, but it is something that we needed to get that big boost to get ourselves into the Chase, and if we do get into the Chase what can make us championship caliber because right now I'm looking forward to going to every race track.

Q: The restart before the last restart you made a move and then Matt came down the block, and on TV I also think you said that he was trying to block in that particular instance. Did the fact that in your mind that he was trying to block make him fair game? Is there an implication of that?

JEFF GORDON: A little bit. I mean, if I wanted to just wreck him, I could have done it on that restart because I easily was inside of him, and he ran me all the way down to the apron, and our bumpers touched and he was getting ready to spin out because he just kept going, and I actually checked up to keep from wrecking him.

I want to win a race fair and square, and that's why I hate that he spun because I think we had a car capable of racing for the win. I think that that was one indication to me. I was like, hmm, okay, if he's going to make it that difficult, then that does open it up a bit, and then I got another run on him going into turn 1, and I dove in there pretty deep and he didn't even hesitate to run right down into the groove.

To me, I was like, wow, he's pretty brave right now, and then I got through the middle so good and I just jumped in the gas. He had been getting off there so good, he had been getting into the gas real early, as well. That's why I think the lap car just changed error just a little bit because he just didn't get in the gas as hard as he had been, and because I got in it so good, I just ran right into him.

Q: You're now down to three tracks that you've won at, Texas, Phoenix and Homestead. Where do you think your best chance is?

JEFF GORDON: I don't know, we ran really good at Homestead last year. I mean, with what we learned over the last month, I feel like Texas is not out of the question, either. Right now, though, as good a run as this was, I feel like we can win at a lot of places now that before we questioned.

If we just keep learning what we've been working on and keep learning more about it and keep going that same direction, there's no telling where we can win at. But I'm really excited where this race team is at right now. Our pit stops are awesome, the communication is great. I've been saying it all year long, communication is great, Steve and I are working together well. Everybody else has been saying it doesn't look like things are going well. We just needed to put it all together and finally today we did and showed what kind of race team we were.

Q: After the race Matt (Kenseth) said he thought it was maybe a little payback from Bristol. I know you said it wasn't, but could you comment on that, and do you feel maybe you need to settle with Matt sometime between now and next weekend?

JEFF GORDON: No, I don't think so. I mean, he can say whatever about payback. I mean, I'm not going to question it because whether it is or whether it isn't, it's not even an issue anymore. What happened at Bristol, it happened, just like what happened here. It's a non?issue. It's racing.

You know, I got the bad end of it at Bristol, he got the bad end of it today. There's nothing to talk about. I look forward to racing Matt Kenseth hard and clean next weekend, and I hope that the same goes for him.

Q: Steve, tell us a little bit about the strategy from atop the box.

STEVE LETARTE: Well, any time you come to these mile and a half tracks, it's really all about track position, but even from the drop of the green flag, the car seemed relatively strong all day. We moved up pretty quick. I think we were in 2nd by the first green flag pit stop and took the lead shortly after. The strategy was really pretty simple for us today. We tried to keep four tires on it, and make sure when we did come in for the final stop for the final amount of fuel that we were in the position we needed to be in to race with the leaders.

Q: All this talk about whether the bump was intentional or not intentional, doesn't it become a moot point once he runs out of gas?

JEFF GORDON: Did he run out of gas? I don't know. He might not have run out of gas under green the way pickups are and all that stuff. I was more worried we were going to run out of gas.

You know, really, I know what it's like to win a race with controversy like that. I've done it before, and it's a whole lot more fun to win without that. You know, but at the same time, it feels good to win. I'm not going to pick up the papers and read things ?? sorry. I'll read the paper, I'll just skip the sports. I've made it a point to do that because whether it's good things written about me or bad things or controversy or non?controversy, it helps me to be able to go week to week every single year by staying out of the gossip and the this person said this, this person said that. I'm just going to go race, and we're going to go test at Indy and I'm going to focus on that.

I'm just really thrilled with this race team right now and how great of an effort this was and just the fact that we won at a track that we haven't won at.

And I think that's the other thing that maybe Matt needs to take into consideration here is how hungry we are right now. We are out of the Chase, he's solidly in the Chase, and we haven't won here. Today as far as I'm concerned, I mean, I was definitely being aggressive, and when it came down with five to go, he should have expected if I could get to his bumper, there was going to be some action. One, because of what happened in Bristol ?? I'm not saying I was going to wreck him, but you'd better believe I was going to make life difficult on him. And number two, it's because we're hungry. We need to win, we need momentum and we need to get that in that Chase.

Tony Stewart got me last year, and I haven't done a thing. But if we come down to a win and it gets tight like that, he'd better expect the same thing.

Continued in part 2

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Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart