JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: WHY THE BEARD? "Why not?" HOW DO YOU APPROACH THE BATTLE WITHIN A BATTLE AT THIS LAST RACE? "We just look at it like we've got nothing to lose. We want to end this season on a positive note.
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
WHY THE BEARD? "Why not?"
HOW DO YOU APPROACH THE BATTLE WITHIN A BATTLE AT THIS LAST RACE? "We just look at it like we've got nothing to lose. We want to end this season on a positive note. Moving up in the points would be very positive for us. In order to do that, we're going to have to run real well. We're going to have to lead laps and we're going to have to have a good top-five finish because the guys that we're racing are running good this weekend and they're going to finish good. We probably have more work cut out for ourselves than anybody else out there because of what we did in qualifying and (having to start) that far back. It's going to take a lot for us to get to the front, but we have a race car capable of doing it. I hate that we messed it up on qualifying day, but it's a pretty good race car."
ON TAKING HIS FIRST WINSTON CUP CAREER PROVISIONAL START
"It's going to happen eventually. Drawing that number one spot (qualifying order), and there was something wrong with that set of tires. We put that same set of tires on today and the car was awful and it had been good all day before that. Things happen every once in a while. I can't believe we've gone as long as we've gone without taking a provisional. That's a pretty amazing stat that we had there. All we care about though is winning races.
"We've started further back than that before. We never have taken a provisional. I don't like being back there, but you've got to take what you're dealt with and we'll just have to work our way to the front."
ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO GOING TO SPAIN?
"I'm excited. I can't wait. It's going to be a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to the fun we're going to have over in Europe, but we're going to have fun driving those (World Rally) race cars."
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
ON THE POINTS BATTLE: "Sunday is going to be a real important day for us. Our record is on the line. There's a lot of money between (final points) third place and seventh ($500,000) where we could fall to. Sunday is going to be a real important day for us. Hopefully we come out with the best possible scenario."
ON RACING JEFF GORDON IN THE FINAL POINTS? "We haven't really talked about it. But if I'm able to finish ahead of Jeff Gordon in the points, then my reputation is going to be a pretty neat accomplishment. Obviously, we've had a incredible season so far and the fact that we're going to be able to go to New York in itself is pretty special for the Lowe's team."
ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO THE RACE OF CHAMPIONS IN SPAIN? "It's going to be really neat. The fact that we're going to be able to drive a World Rally car and mix it up with some of the best drivers and riders in the world is really exciting. I'm looking forward to going overseas. It'll be my first time out of the country as far as going across the pond and I'm looking forward to that. We're going to spend a little bit of time over there - about a week and a half prior to the event - and then we get to go meet people and drive race cars."
HAVE YOU HAD A CHANCE TO PRACTICE FOR THIS RACE? "Unfortunately, we had a test scheduled but we were unable to make the test. My roots are from dirt racing. But I have not been in a four-wheel-drive (vehicle) on the dirt. They drive completely different and I'm going to have to learn a lot in a hurry in the practice sessions we have prior to the race. But it's going to be cool. It's going to be neat just to be back on the dirt."
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR SEASON? "I think it's been a great season. Here at the end, we wish we had been able to stay in the championship battle and not be in the position to slip back to seventh either. At the end of the season, I with we could have had some of those races back to take up some of the small mistakes that we've made. But all in all, it's been a great season. It seems like five years ago that we won our first race in California. So much happens on a weekly basis here that your memory bank can only hang on to so much. It's been an incredible season and a surprising one to say the least."
WHAT'S BEEN THE BEST PART OF THE YEAR? "Just making my mark in the sport and getting the respect from the drivers and the team members and the team owners. When you come into the sport, you don't know how long it's going to take to gain that respect from everyone. I might not have it from everyone I know, but I know I have it from the drivers and team members and owners."
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT BEING NECK AND NECK WITH RYAN NEWMAN FOR THE RAYBESTOS ROOKIE OF THE YEAR AWARD? "It's gcool. We've had a great battle all year long. He's won races; I've won races. He's won poles; I've won poles. It's been a really neat situation to race him all year long."