JEFF GORDON , No. 24 DuPont Monte Carlo SS, Qualified 3rd Post Qualifying Press Conference: Q. On his qualifying run: "It was a great day for us. We unloaded off the truck really fast. I felt like the car, just the feel of the lap versus ...
, No. 24 DuPont Monte Carlo SS, Qualified 3rd
Post Qualifying Press Conference:
Q. On his qualifying run:
"It was a great day for us. We unloaded off the truck really fast. I felt like the car, just the feel of the lap versus practice was actually better than what we were. I thought we were going to be close to Ryan (Newman) but Ryan put up a great number, a very fast lap and we're thrilled to be third. Things have been going good for the DuPont Chevrolet so far this weekend."
Q. On drivers driving with an injury. Is it wise for that decision to be in the driver's hands or do you see any kind of role for an impartial panel to play a part in that decision? Or does it work good the way it is now?
"I think it pretty much does. I think it's different for different injuries. If it's a head injury then it's treated differently and a doctor has to clear the driver and I think that that is smart. Head injuries are really nothing to fool around with. This type of injury we've seen it in the past. I know from my own personal experience, I've dealt with some rib injuries before and felt like with the right procedures to help the healing and padding and different things certainly weren't quite what Tony is going through but I think they're doing the right thing. I feel like Tony is making a good decision by trying to make as few laps as possible and get out. I don't really see where that process needs to be changed any."
Q. Do you think that your team is still progressing? Even though last week was a tough week, do you think you are on your way up?
"Definitely, last week was certainly no indication of the team's performance. That was a failure that is actually something right now that is going on throughout the garage area. It's something that we're definitely addressing. After looking at Jimmie Johnson's same hub with the same wheel bearings that we had, his was about five laps from being just about mine. Those are isolated instances that unfortunately have happened to us. We've had a couple of freak things that happened but performance-wise, absolutely. I think that we're getting better and better at understanding the setups that we're putting on the car, giving me a better feel and getting our performance up there. I never felt like it was going to happen overnight. It hasn't but I definitely think we're slowly progressing. Would I like to progress faster? Sure. But do we still have time to get to where we need to be? Absolutely. I'm kind of happy to be in the position that we're at to be honest with you. I think a lot of times you can peak too early with the way the Chase is. You want to be peaking just prior to the Chase and carry that momentum into those last 10 (races). That's what I'm still hoping for."
Q. Crew chiefs are going to a real stiff setup especially at tracks like this. Obviously for you you've been able to figure that out.
"Obviously for me I haven't. That's why we haven't been good the last couple of years."
Q. How difficult is it to get used to changing your style to adapt to a setup like that?
"Yeah, one of the biggest reasons we got behind is because we didn't get on top of that setup fast enough. We started getting softer and softer but now you got guys that are basically just riding on a spring that coil binds and sets your heights. Then there's the question do you do both fronts, do you left front, do you do the right front, how stiff do you go in the rear and all those things. It takes a lot to adapt to it. One thing that I've learned is that when you hit on the right combination of the springs and the shocks, that's what makes the magic. Then all of the sudden the car just feels so good and so stuck and it's not even an issue of adapting. It's about the team and the engineers coming up with the right concept and then for you to give good feedback to them so that they can understand what needs to be tuned on. Those are one of the things that we got behind on. When I say we're progressing and we're getting better, it's better in those areas and we're making some big gains and we're doing a lot of testing as far as on the seven-post and the wind tunnel. As we speak we've got people at Hendrick Motorsports that are at a seven-post test doing things for us that we might be able to use this weekend. Those are the areas that we're getting better at and as a driver I'm getting better at being comfortable with it."
Q. Has this been one of the toughest things for you to get adjusted to in your career as a driver?
"Yeah, other than I guess getting used to a 500-mile race and pit stops. I came from sprint cars that were 30 lap races and no clutch, no shifting, no pit stops. That was probably a much bigger thing for me to adapt to. Since I've been in the Cup Series, I would say yeah. The driver has to be comfortable. You don't just throw super soft springs in there and the car fixes itself. You've got to tie all these different components together to make the driver comfortable. This is where we started really gaining on things in those last 10 races of last year because instead of just making baby steps and trying a little bit here and inching into it, we just went big and said OK now it's time to go after it because we've got nothing to lose and that's when we started really gaining on it."