Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet Monte Carlo - was second-fast in practice round one: Q: Are you running at dangerous speeds out there? "Everywhere we go is dangerous if there is a failure or a problem. The track is extremely fast. They've...
Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet Monte Carlo - was second-fast in practice round one:
Q: Are you running at dangerous speeds out there?
"Everywhere we go is dangerous if there is a failure or a problem. The track is extremely fast. They've done an awesome job with it and that's why it's so fast. It's smooth. The transitions are great. It's got a lot of grip. I don't have a problem with the speeds; I've got a problem with the fact that it's not going to be a very good race. Right now, I'm pushing extremely hard to qualify good because I know it's going to be single file and there's not going to be much passing at all. With a new surface like this, we'll be running along the bottom of the track."
Q: Looking at the speeds of the Busch cars, why aren't the Winston Cup cars
"I think we finally got going a little bit there at the end. Sometimes that happens because the Busch cars don't have as much horsepower as we do and they've got a little bit shorter wheelbase. Sometimes they can carry a little more corner speed. Right now, we've got so much power that it's lifting the nose of the car. It's not allowing us to get through the corner quite as fast as the Busch cars. I think you'll see the Winston Cup pole faster today than the Busch pole was yesterday. That's not uncommon for a new surface and a very fast, high-momentum race track like this."
Q: Is it too fast?
"It's too fast to put on a very good race. I look forward to when the surface starts to wear off. Last year was a pretty decent race where you could get side by side. Now, it's going to go back to one groove. I'm glad we're running good because I'm going to put the best possible lap I can out there for qualifying. I want to be up front because it's going to be extremely hard to pass."
Q: Since Texas is one of the tracks you haven't won at, how exciting would it
be to win here?
"Oh, it would be awesome. But right now I just want to win. I don't care where it is. We've run extremely well and our finishes have not shown how well we've run. And that's unfortunate. I want to get that turned around and start listing some good finishes up there on the board. We're capable of it."
Q: With a couple of guys on probation now, do you race them any differently?) "No, I don't race him any different. Usually, he'll race me a little different. We're all out there getting everything we can out of it and I don't know that probation changes it a whole lot other than a guy might think twice about sticking his nose in a hole where maybe there's not enough room."
Q: With this being your 300th start - and not even taking a provisional - what
does it mean to you?
"That's pretty awesome. We've come close (to taking a provisional) a couple of times. That says a lot about our race team and how well we've qualified. But 300 starts - I can't believe it. That seems like a lot to me. It kind of snuck up on me. I don't look at the starts as much as I look at the finishes. I like those statistics more, but 300 is special."
Q: Have you ever thought of writing your life story?
"Well, we've been talking about just climbing the mountain to get back on top as far as racing is concerned. I think I've got a whole lot more chapters in my life before I can write things about it. But there's a great story about where this team started, and what they've gone through for the last eight or nine years. We all dropped down and then worked our way back to the top. I think that's a great story and I'd like to see it be told, and we have been pursuing that."
Q: And that would be a story on your team authorized by you?
Q: Is running consistently high rpm's in this race of concern to you with
regard to the one-engine rule?
"Yeah, that is definitely a concern. We've had problems at places like Atlanta and Chicago last year, so coming to a track like this is of definite concern. Randy Dorton and all the guys in the engine shop have been working hard to make sure we can run here for long periods of time in that rpm range. I think they've got a pretty good handle on it."
Q: Could the track come back to another groove after the Busch race?
"No, it won't. It's going to take three races, really. Atlanta (for example) just started coming into it's own last year. And they redid that place five years ago. So it will take a good two or three races. If there is a really harsh summer and winter, it will come in faster. They need to find a way to repave these racetracks with a weathered pavement so that it doesn't have so much grip at the beginning. The more grip we have, the faster we go. But it's also harder to pass."
Q: Will it be slippery?
"It will if you get out of the groove. There's so much grip in the groove, that anything outside of that will seem slippery."
Q: You don't want to be pushing at this track, do you?
"You don't want to be pushing anywhere. But being real tight can get you in trouble because this place can build up the tire pressure in the right front so much that you're just going to get tighter and tighter as time goes on."
Q: If you can't pass, how can you make this a better race?
"The number one thing is to qualify really good so you can get in clean air and have a good spot on pit road. You just try to keep yourself up in good track position all day long. So, we'll have to look at the tire wear and look at the type of pit strategy we can play. But track position is going to be so critical that it will be the main focus. Whatever I can do as a driver to protect the bottom is going to be real important. When it's hard to pass and you've got to protect the bottom, if somebody gets greedy and wants to stick his nose in there, then you'll have problems."
Q: With the increased speeds, is there almost a Talladega atmosphere in the
"We are going extremely fast. The dangerous side is not when we're out there just riding around at those speeds. That's not a big deal. It's when you have a failure - like blowing a right front tire. When you have something go wrong or break, that's when it becomes a big issue. You try to put that out of your mind because you've got to go out there and race hard. You've got to be out there pushing the car every single lap and not be thinking about that. But it's hard when you've hit the wall pretty hard here before. Goodyear has done a really good job of changing the tire for this track. They knew it was going to be fast. They knew it was going to be hard on tires. From what I've heard, everybody is real happy with it. We've got to be sure we don't get to aggressive with the air pressure being low in the camber and we're not. We feel real good about that.
"I think we always have to respect the speeds at every track. You can hit the wall at Bristol just as hard as you can here. This is one of those places where it's going to be tough to pass. If a guy gets a run inside you, and you don't want to give him that spot - you want to shut the door on him because there's going to be a wreck - that happens everywhere we go that you can't pass. This is a very fast track. We're going to have to give and take and approach it like we do at Talladega where you can't try to put a guy in the grass just because he gets a fender inside you. You've got to respect that."
Q: Do you have any real sensation of how fast you're going at this track?) "It's pretty fast and it's very smooth. Normally we don't know how fast we're going until we hit something. I just hope that doesn't happen because I don't want to find out just how fast we're going. It's fast, but it's real comfortable because it's smooth. I'm happy."