JEFF GORDON , NO. 24 DUPONT MONTE CARLO SS - finished 2nd: "We started on the pole and went backyards pretty fast. We made some adjustments in practice yesterday because we were so loose and with the overcast skies, we just couldn't get those ...
JEFF GORDON , NO. 24 DUPONT MONTE CARLO SS - finished 2nd:
"We started on the pole and went backyards pretty fast. We made some adjustments in practice yesterday because we were so loose and with the overcast skies, we just couldn't get those adjustments out until we made some pit stops and we were real tight. We had a fast race car and there were times we were able to show it and we were racing up there with Matt (Kenseth) and Tony (Stewart) and that was fun. I really enjoyed that. It's just great when you have a good race car and the guys are making good adjustments and good pit stops.
"We had one set of tires that we over-adjusted on and that cost us a bunch of positions. And then on that last red flag and restart, (crew chief) Steve (Letarte) made a great call in keeping us out. And it looked like the No. 29 (Harvick) maybe had a flat left front; and then the No. 31 (Burton) - I don't know what happened to him on the restart. He just didn't go. We were able to get up there to second and hold Jimmie (Johnson) off. We never had anything for Matt (Kenseth)."
COULD YOU BELIEVE YOUR EYES WHEN YOU SAW HARVICK ON PIT ROAD OR DID THEY TELL YOU ON THE RADIO HE HAD A FLAT TIRE?
"When we were coming to take the green, there was a piece of debris on the back straightaway. I guess it was just tape though. I couldn't tell what it was. It looked like debris. I was telling them I saw something on the race track and then Steve came on (the radio) and said he thought the No. 29 had a flat left front. I hated that for him. That stinks. You know, it's crazy how things like that happen. A guy wins the Daytona 500 and everything goes right last week and then something like that happens. It's unfortunate and we probably would have ended up 3rd or 4th if he'd stayed out there."
HOW MUCH MORE COMPLICATED S IT WHEN THE TEMPERATURE CHANGES SO DRASTICALLY LIKE IT DID TODAY?
"The biggest difference is that it was warm yesterday and the sun was out and the track temperature was probably 20 - 25 degrees warmed. We were all screaming. The grip just wasn't there. Today, conditions were actually really good. It's just that the adjustments we had made and the set-up we had just really didn't suit the track temperature. Luckily we kept the car very adjustable to be able to do that. And it just took us a little while to do that. Once we did, we were a top three or four car for the rest of the day."
YOU MAKE A MAJOR TRACKBAR ADJUSTMENT AT THE BEGINNING OF THE RACE. WERE YOU JUST NOT READY FOR THE COOLER TRACK TEMPERATURES?
"We made a lot of adjustments yesterday because we were real loose. We put Jimmie's set-up in. But we knew the car was going to be tight. We made some adjustments air-pressure wise but it was even tighter than what we anticipated. But it was even tighter than what we anticipated. I'd rather be on the tight side than on the loose side to start the race off. It just took us a while to get the right adjustments. It wasn't just a track bar adjustment. It took a little bit on the track bar and a little bit of bite and rubbers out of the left rear and then air pressure. But you've got to sneak up on it. You can't do it all at once. So the crew chiefs and engineers must have been talking back and forth because Jimmie made some adjustments that they said helped and so we made that one it did seem to help a little bit. But we just had one adjustment on a set of tires that was just too much and came out second behind Jimmie. We were looking good and Jimmie was running good, and the car was just way too loose. I was just happy to bring it home at that point."
YOU MADE A NUMBER OF PIT STOPS EARLY TO GET THE CAR RIGHT. IS THAT JUST CONFIDENCE IN YOUR ABILITY TO MAKE UP THAT GROUND THAT ENABLES YOU TO GET THE CAR JUST LIKE YOU WANT IT? AND HOW SATISFYING IS A SECOND PLACE FINISH GIVEN WHAT YOU WENT THROUGH EARLY IN THE RACE?
"That's called being way off. We messed up on pit strategy early where we should have come in. We didn't. We stayed out. So when the caution came out the next time, we were basically going to be messed up on our fuel strategy and our pit window. So we came in and said hey, we need to make adjustments to it anyway. This is a long race. A lot of stuff happens here. We knew we had a fast car and I think we did have confidence in that. It's a lot easier to free a car up than it is to tighten it up. We were able to make some pretty big adjustments there. And everything just kind of went our way from that point on. So I'm very thrilled to have a second place finish because from that point on, cautions fell at the right time. We were getting ready to pit and a caution came out and put some guys a lap down (but) kept us on the lead lap. And to get a second place finish, those things have to go your way. We had some great pit stops and that great pit stall didn't hurt any. But it was a great effort for our whole team. I'm very happy to finish second."
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO GET THE YEAR OFF TO A GOOD START?
"I think it's extremely important. I know that it's early in the season, but we're trying to build a championship right now - not just with points, but with the team. I feel like last year was a building year for us and this year is a year to see what we're made of and to see if we're going to pull off this championship. We've got a great organization that provides us with everything that we need. We've got the momentum from Jimmie winning the championship last year and there is nothing better than to get the year off to a good start to build confidence. Today, we had a good race car and battled for the lead. I'm looking forward to trying to do some more of that. We were concerned about the unleaded fuel and we were able to bring that home. We're curious to see what the inside of that engine looks like. But for us, it's two solid weeks. To me, it's more about the fight. Last week, we weren't very good. We just kept fighting and got back up there. I think we were capable of a top five there at the end. This week, we were in the top five pretty much all day long and with a few adjustments here and there, we were in between maybe being able to win and finishing second or third."
KENSETH HAD THE CAR TO BEAT TODAY, BUT WAS HARVICK THE GUY TO BEAT AT THE END?
"Other than there at the end when I saw Harvick, I was really horrible at the time, he gained on me and was passing me and he looked like he was pretty strong. You can never count Harvick out on restarts with a few laps to go. But Matt (Kenseth) had him killed all day and I think Jimmie was the only other car (to beat). Tony was strong at times, but Jimmie looked like the car to beat if he could get out front and I don't think anybody could have touched him. But overall, Matt was the most well-rounded car that I saw all day. Their pit stops were solid. He was solid and didn't make many mistakes. The car handled pretty good right from the beginning to the end of a run. Harvick, to me, was hit or miss."
IF THERE ARE GOING TO BE 150 GREEN-FLAG LAPS AT THE END OF A RACE, ISN'T THERE ALWAYS GOING TO BE A DEBRIS CAUTION? DO YOU HAVE TO FACTOR THAT IN?
"You need to ask somebody else that. We aren't the ones that make that decision. It does seem like it does happen. I guess it just depends on the track and the situation. I really don't know what happened on that. I'm sure they've got an explanation. You can go over to that truck (NASCAR) to ask that question."
ON THE UPCOMING LAS VEGAS RACE WITH THE NEW TRACK SURFACE:
"I was pretty happy with what they did with the race track. It was a little bumpy and rough down in Turn 1. Mainly what Goodyear wasn't happy with is that they didn't like what they saw in the tires building up a little bit too much temperature and having some failures. And so they reconstructed a tire and built a different tire that we haven't tested there that I hear is rock hard and is not going to be a lot of fun to drive on. So I'm not looking forward to that. But I'm looking forward to racing on the new surface. In the short period of time we were there, there was already an outside groove building. That's always promising when you see something like that. I just hope the garage area is done because it was a long way from being done. They had a lot of work to do."
-credit: gm racing