Comments from Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Dupont Chevrolet Monte Carlo: "We haven't had things going our way for the past couple of weeks so it's nice to get back on track and have good pit stops and really just a nice solid effort. That's what...
Comments from Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Dupont Chevrolet Monte Carlo:
"We haven't had things going our way for the past couple of weeks so it's nice to get back on track and have good pit stops and really just a nice solid effort. That's what it takes to have a good solid run here. There at the end, unfortunately we lost a little bit of track position under green at one time. My car got real, real tight on me. We tried to free it up, but we didn't free it up enough. I didn't think I'd have anything for Rusty when they dropped the green there on that last re-start. But I got by Stewart and started running Rusty down and thought maybe I'd have a shot at it. We made it look good anyway. I really didn't have much for him. He was real, real strong. If I could have gotten up beside him it would have been one thing. But it was pretty tough to get up beside him as strong as he was today. It was good to come home second and it was a good points day for us."
Trying to catch Rusty Wallace, did you use up everything you had?
"Oh I definitely used up everything I had there at the end. Track position is pretty important. If I could have been in front of him, it would have been a different deal. But that wasn't the case. We thought about coming in and taking two (tires) if everybody came in. If people came in (to pit) we were going to do something and do something quick and at least get some tires on there and make some adjustments 'cause I was real tight. I didn't have anything for Stewart and I saw the No. 8 car (Earnhardt Jr.) and the No. 12 car (Mayfield) really coming on strong. It just took a long time for my car to come around today. It wasn't very good on fresh tires. It took a good 25 laps for it to really get good. That kind of fell into our hands there at the end. Rusty's car seemed to fade and my car just kept getting better and better. I tried to put some heat on him but the only way I was going to get by him was if he made a big mistake and a guy like Rusty isn't going to do that. He ran a good clean line and he didn't make any mistakes. He deserved to win. He had the fastest car there at the end."
What happened when you'd get within a couple of car lengths of Rusty?
"When he's drivng the same line as you are, you can't follow in his tracks because you'll push the front end so bad that you'll never get by him. I got up to him to a certain point. He was real strong on the straightaways. I'd be interested to see what that thing does on the chassis dyno. But I'd gain on him, but once I got to him within two car lengths, it's like my car would just stop and everything I tried to do just wouldn't work. That's why I jumped up to the high side one time. If we would have had a lot longer to go, I think I could have made the high side work. But as short a run as we had, I was just trying to get some clean air and see if I could make a run on him. But that's as close as I could get to him."
What was the difference between the middle of the race and the end of it for you?
"You keep hearing clean air, clean air. With the springs and the shocks that we run these days, we get the car stuck down to the ground so good. Aerodynamics are so important. When you get behind one or two cars, your car just starts buffeting around and it just doesn't handle the same. You get out in clean air and it's just see ya' later. That's how it was for us. That's why we needed to have some clean air there at the end. We would have been in good shape."
Can you comment on the motorsports news of today regarding the paramedics seatbelt story and the cancellation of the CART race?
"I heard about it, but I don't put too much into it. A lot of what you guys write in the paper but there's some people out there that may do an interview with someone and you never know what the deal is. So until I see the hard facts sitting right in front of me I can't make comment on it. I don't know the situation. Mr. Earnhardt is not with us anymore and that's sad. Nothing's going to bring him back. I still pray to God for his family and the DEI people that were close to him. Right now, we know what he died from but we don't know what caused it exactly. We have a pretty good idea. I stick with NASCAR and whatever they've found in their investigation is what I believe in. I've never seen them do anything to not have those facts in front of us to give the teams what we need to know and look for going down the road."
Did you wear the HANS today, and is it getting more comfortable?
"Yes. This is the second time wearing one that's made just for me and this is the best I've felt. It's still a little sore, but it's definitely the best I've felt. There's so many things now that are out there, but I'm going to stick with the HANS because it's been tested the most. From what I've seen in testing results, it has the best results. No doubt, everything has a negative to it. And to me, the HANS is bulky, big, and a little uncomfortable. But I'm willing to take that right now because I definitely believe in and like what it does."
Will you wear it at Richmond?
"I probably will wear it at Richmond. Right now, the big debate for me is the road courses. That's where I've got to get comfortable. That's a different kind of comfort. It makes me sore right now, and I wish I could get around that. When I get to a place like a road course where I'm turning left and right, I've got to make sure that I have enough flexibility. Road courses are a little bit different than fast ovals. Those are the places we need it the most. I'm not saying that we don't need it everywhere, because I think it's a good idea to wear it everywhere. But if I can be comfortable with it at Sears Point and Watkins Glen, I'll try to run it everywhere."
Were you concerned about the No. 20 and the No. 8 behind you?
"I was real concerned there before that last caution. My car didn't feel good. It just didn't feel like it was hooked up the way it had been earlier. They were coming on strong and I thought they were on new tires or something. But we just regrouped and took some deep breaths and tried to get after it as hard as we could. I was pretty fortunate to where I got a run on Tony (Stewart) and made a move on him. And that got me out there a little bit away from (Dale) Jr. It just seemed like my car was really strong there at the end. I was able to pull away from him and catch up to the No. 2 car."
Is your second place finish here this year compared to your 11th place finish here last year indicative of your team's progress?
"Oh, absolutely. A new pit crew, new crew chief, new cars - there were a lot of things going on. I was proud of how we handled it all. There were frustrating times out there. An 11th place finish isn't bad, but for us it was kind of a disappointing day for us. So today really showed how far as we've come. It was a great effort. It reminded me of what this team has always looked like when we've been here. This is some nice momentum for us moving forward. We'd gotten a little down and I could see the team morale getting down a little bit. We needed a little pick-me-up. We got a shot in the arm today."
Now that a group of drivers have reacted against an unsafe situation - the CART race cancellation - do you see any similar characteristics in that for NASCAR drivers?
"I pray we're never in that situation because I believe CART is going to suffer a lot from it. To do it the day of the race is going to be very tough on them. So they're going to get criticized I'm sure for that. But I think in the drivers' minds, they probably did what they thought was right. But that was a different deal. From what I heard on TV, the drivers were actually disoriented. There was a lack of blood flow to the head. I've flown with the Blue Angels before and I know what tunnel vision is and it's no fun. I can't imagine driving out there like that. I'm not a big fan of those cars on one-half mile racetracks and going that fast. I really don't want to see them out there getting hurt. It's totally different from what we're going through out there. We're just kind of picky when it comes to the rules at Talladega and Daytona. We want it perfect, but yet we don't have the perfect solution and neither does anybody else."
How important are the point standings to you this far into the season?
"We've struggled the last two or three weeks where things haven't necessarily been going our way but they've been going Dale Jarrett's way. It's a long season and a lot will happen. I don't wish anything bad for Dale, but it's just nice for us to have a good strong day. We got down a little bit, but don't count us out. It's a long season."
-Team Monte Carlo