Darlington: Winning team interview, part 2

Continued from part 1 ON UNDERSTANDING DENNY'S SITUATION OF LOSING WHEN YOU HAVE A GOOD CAR BUT A MISCUE AND ON DOING SO WELL WITH THE IMPALA SS AND NOT MISTAKING THOSE MISTAKES: GORDON: "That's why I said that we've got an incredible team ...

Continued from part 1

ON UNDERSTANDING DENNY'S SITUATION OF LOSING WHEN YOU HAVE A GOOD CAR BUT A MISCUE AND ON DOING SO WELL WITH THE IMPALA SS AND NOT MISTAKING THOSE MISTAKES:

GORDON: "That's why I said that we've got an incredible team right now because we're not making those kinds of mistakes. Maybe things aren't going perfect for us but at the end of the day we're getting the results that we're looking for. To me that means more than anything else. Those are things that when we do have the car (good) are going to pull us through to get the good finish or the victory and then have days like today where we pull of victories when we probably shouldn't. I can understand his frustration. They've been very strong and probably tired of hearing everybody talk about Hendrick's domination especially with this car. We keep saying 'We're not dominating, we're not dominating, we're just getting the wins.' I think today showed those guys they had it again and I don't know what happened, how he got behind. I just know there was one time that he was ahead of me coming in the pits and he was no where in sight when we came off pit road. Those are the things that those guys obviously have to work on but we've got to go to work to make sure that when they don't make those mistakes that we're competitive enough to beat 'em. I'll be honest, today, here, Bristol and probably even Richmond we were not the competitive car to win or get the good finishes but we pulled it out so we know we got some work left to. I'm excited about that because we're still getting good finishes and we've got some work to do. It's not going to be long before they start ending up in the winners circle."

IS IT FAIR TO SAY HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS IS DOMINATING AS MUCH OFF THE TRACK AS IT IS ON THE TRACK?

LETARTE: "I think that we're dominating the finishes. I don't think we're dominating the races by any means. I feel we've been outclassed on the race track a few of these races and that's my job to fix. I don't feel we're bringing the cars to outrun some of those guys on the race track but I feel we're out teaming them at a lot of these races. It's just like you said, it's a lot off the track. It's the motor department, the pit crew department, there's 550 people employees there and it's very important for them to know that we couldn't do it without all 550 of them. Everyone who laid a hand on that motor today made a big difference for us finishing this race and that's the difference. Martinsville is really the only Impala race that I feel that Hendrick had the cars to beat. I don't believe there's anyone in Martinsville that can run with us but I think the other ones we got the wins but I don't believe we led the most laps. We might have lead the most laps but we weren't the most dominant car. There were cars there that were better than ours. That's the strength of our organization is we're not afraid to admit our weaknesses and accept them and we're going to work on them."

DID YOU THINK THERE WAS ANY CHANCE THAT DENNY COULD RUN YOU DOWN? WAS THE MOTOR DOING ANYTHING WRONG OTHER THAN SHOWING BAD ON THE GUAGES?

GORDON: "There was a couple of a times under caution where I went to scuff the tires and accelerate and it hesitated and it popped a little bit and I thought 'We're done.' I thought that was it. I was in third gear when I did it though so sometimes they do that in third gear. On every restart when I was in second gear it took off perfectly throughout all the runs. It did everything as normal so I was shocked as anybody else. The think that gave me some comfort was that when we got going it seemed like the oil temperature would drop a little bit which was a good sign and the water pressure would drop a little bit and I didn't see water spewing out the overflow so those were all good signs to me other than I was hoping we weren't out of water. I thought that Jimmie was going to catch us. The second to last caution I was very frustrated with that caution. I didn't see any reason to have that caution. There was nothing on the track, there was no smoke, a guy got completely off the race track when I think it was a blown engine and I thought they were a little quick to throw that one. At that time I didn't think anybody was going to catch us. The car felt great. We had like 18, 19 laps to go and the fast cars were in a lot of traffic and at that time we were just pulling away. The last caution knowing that Jimmie was only three behind me, when they took off and he got by the first car right way I think Junior and then got up to Newman, I said 'No, we're done.' I even came on the radio.I kept trying to put the laps together and not make mistakes and until Newman battled with Jimmie and held him up there for about two laps at that point I thought 'Oooh, I think we might have him.' Then when I saw Jimmie got passed by Hamlin I knew that just slowed them down that much more and it just gave us even more of any advantage. I'll be honest, when Denny got into second I really didn't think he could catch us. I thought long before that they were going to catch us. Newman knows how to make his car very, very, very, very wide and he certainly did that today. The only friend I think he made out there was me. I was glad he was holding 'em up but at the same I hate it for those guys because I know they definitely had the cars to win the race."

DID YOU HAVE ANY BEER CANS THROWN AT YOU?

GORDON: "No, not today. I didn't see any anyway. There was a lot of smoke because I was doing a burnout which I'm not very good at but I did a pretty good one today. I didn't see anything. I saw people cheering and I was happy about that. I don't pay too much attention to that. When they throw things at me, it's a safety issue but it's a compliment to me."

ON THE OPPORTUNITY FOR HIM AND HIS CREW TO BE A PART OF THE ALL STAR EXPERIENCE:

LETARTE: "The whole All Star weekend is an interesting weekend really. It's hard to prepare for because we're prepared and we race as a company to try to finish the best we can in points and it's really hard to go over there to race. I mean it's a lot of money they put up and it's a prestigious event and it's good for momentum but I really like the 10-point bonus for winning so I maybe wish they had a 10-point bonus for winning the All Star race. But we went over and tested for a couple of days in Charlotte. Our test was about average I think. Jimmie was good at Lowe's which is no surprise and I think the pit crew is excited. The pit crew competition they do at the Bobcats Arena is great for the pit crew. It's gets them on TV, it gets them recognition they deserve but Friday night qualifying, that's the true pit competition in my opinion because that's a true four-tire stop like we do every Sunday. Whethever we can put the three laps together as a team or not, I like to see that they always usually fill up with a pretty impressive stop and I like to root for them there."

YOUR WIFE WILL SOON BE A MOTHER - WINNING HERE ON MOTHER'S DAY, IS IT SPECIAL FOR YOU? GORDON:

"It was fantastic to think that here in about six or seven weeks she's going to be a mother and anybody that's had a child can tell you that you feel like a mother at this stage in the game and she's got a lot of emotions going on right now. We were already planning to give her kind of a pre-Mother's Day celebration along with my mom and my sister, being mothers, and kind of doing that together. So I can't think of a better gift to give her and my mom. Unfortunately my mom wasn't here. But it was very cool. She had a little tear in her eye so definitely the emotions and the hormones are flying right now. She knew, too, that this was her last weekend to travel before she has the baby so I think that meant a lot as well to her to be able to pull that off before she's stuck at home for a little while."

WHEN YOU WON CHAMPIONSHIPS, YOU HAD VERY FEW DNFS. IS IT LUCK?

GORDON: "I don't believe in luck. It's through preparation and hard work and obviously things are going our way right now and that's nice. That's very nice to have on your side and I do hope that we can maintain that side of it because it's making for a fun year. Every year I won the championship there wasn't a Chase and I want that Nextel Cup so bad. So does this team. We've got Winston Cups, we don't have a Nextel Cup and we're hungry to get it. We're doing a lot of things right to show that we're one of the top guys to contend for it this year. I'm just thinking of how we do that last 10 (races, since this is a 10 race stretch) and prepare ourselves and as far as I'm concerned, the last 10 were a Chase. The next 10 will be a Chase. That's the way we're going to focus on it until we get into that final 10 and just keep treating it like the Chase and show what we're capable of.

"Obviously DNFs took us out of it last year and we can't have those things happen to us this year. We hope that we've cured a lot of the things that did happen to us and that we can keep it rolling. Everything goes up and down and you know that sometimes you can pull it off in an entire year. Bobby Labonte, I remember, one year had a tremendous year where he had either none or very few DNFs. You always think it's going to cycle its way through and with the way the Chase format is, you hope that that cycle doesn't come the last 10. If it is going to happen to us - I did think it was going to happen today - I do hope we get it out of the way and learn from it before we get in that Chase."

WERE YOU AWARE OF THE DEBRIS ON THE TRACK WHEN A CAUTION SHOULD HAVE BEEN CALLED BUT WASN'T RIGHT AWAY?

GORDON: "I'm guessing that was the time that we stayed out. Steve came on the radio to me and said 'there's debris on the track; they're talking about it. It's coming, it's coming. They're going to throw the caution'. Little did we know they were waiting on all of us to pit (laughs). At least that's the way it seemed, I don't know. I didn't see anything out there, to be honest. The way this track is, there's just so much apron and down the straightaways as well as in the corners that a lot of things can get out of the way. But if it was in the path of coming to pit road or exiting pit road, then that's when cautions should happen. I know that we're out there to put on a show but man, that is a fine line of balancing that out. Like I said, there's no doubt in my mind that the caution should have been out there at the end and I understand why Denny was complaining about it. I thought there was a lot of inconsistencies with it today."

WITH FIVE LAPS TO GO YOU SAID YOU WEREN'T GOING TO MAKE IT. HOW COME?

GORDON: "I never thought we were going to make it with the engine. That was with 100 to go or 60 to go. I actually didn't think we were going to win the race when I saw Jimmie get into third and putting a lot of pressure on Newman. I was still driving the wheels off the car, I was just kind of commentating, I guess. I didn't get much sleep last night and I was in a bad mood all day. I'm going to apologize to Steve later because he had to put up with me today. I don't know what it is but I haven't been able to sleep the last couple of days. It should be my wife that can't sleep but it seems like it's me that can't sleep. I was ill today for some reason and taking my frustration out on the radio."

-credit: gm racing

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Series NASCAR-CUP