Jeff Gordon -- #24 DuPont Chevrolet
HOW WAS PRACTICE?
The track has lost a lot of grip since the last time we were here. I think, I expected there to be less grip. I didn't test here. I'm just glad to get on the race track right now with all the weather conditions we've had today. I think we have a decent car but we're not where we need to be.
IS THERE ANY UPSIDE IN PREPARATION FOR NEXT YEAR, IN THAT YOU'RE NOT IN THE CHASE?
There's definitely. I always look at the positive of everything. You know, with us not being in the Chase, it puts us in the mindset of working for next year. Helps you get prepared for next year. It doesn't really do anything for Daytona next year, it's just mainly for tracks and speedway and mile and a halfs and building the chemistry and the confidence of the team to give us something to build on in the offseason. In the offseason, there's a lot of work that has to be done to building cars.
ARE YOU EAGER FOR A FRESH START?
I am. I'm looking forward to some downtime. You know, it's been an up-and-down season for us. You know, I'm excited the way things have gone the past several weeks, so it's something to look forward to. I'm still looking forward to rest and relaxation.
RE: IF TONY WINS HE WILL JOIN THAT MULTI-CHAMPIONSHIP CLUB. IS THAT SPECIAL?
Oh yeah. I think it's a big deal to win a championship but it's a huge deal when you win more than one. I think that, really, you go into one class when win a championship. You go into another one when you start winning more than one. And I think that it definitely separates you from a lot of the other drivers when you do that.
DOES TONY BELONG IN THAT CLASS?
Yeah. He's a great race car driver and he's proven himself in all levels and Joe Gibbs have given him the tools to do what he's capable of doing. I was not surprised at all when he won the first one and wouldn't be surprised if he won a second one, or possibly more. I think that more it starts to come down to just desire, because it's a lot of hard work that goes into winning a championship. It's a lot of pressure-the ups the downs can be grueling and the demands on your time pick up more and more. It really starts to just get down to the team and how hard they are capable of working to put themselves in that position.
IN WHAT AREAS HAVE YOU GUYS GOTTEN BETTER AT IN THIS 10-RACE PERIOD OF EXPLORATION?
I think it's just getting me more comfortable. Instead of just trying to put cars out there like Jimmie has, or Kyle has or Brian has, we're putting race cars out there that give me that feel that I'm looking for and we went and tested at Atlanta and we tried some really drastic things, aerodynamically. And I liked them. And ever since then we've been leading more towards that. And, you know, also what happens is that when things start to go wrong, whether it is somebody spins in front of you or your blow a motor or whatever, and then you add on top of that not running good, the chemistry dwindles. And the confidence starts to go away, and I think we lost that. When Steve (Letarte) came in, and we made some changes and we had a couple of good runs, it kind of got that chemistry back going again. That can do as much for you as actually changing the race cars. I think a little bit of it is the cars. I think a lot of it of it is the chemistry and confidence that we've had.
RE: GETTING BETTER THROUGH THIS TEN RACES
We won in Martinsville but we didn't win at any of the other tracks, so. At Atlanta we were one of the best cars there and that was very promising but I want to see that at Texas, here, Kansas, Chicago. We know what area we need to work in the most and you know, we're still trying to figure it out. We haven't got it all figured out, but we've gotten a lot closer.