JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) "The car was tight in practice, and we still were up in the top 10. I knew that wasn't a very good lap the first time on the track. I knew if we could just get it to cut the ...
(No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo)
"The car was tight in practice, and we still were up in the top 10. I knew that wasn't a very good lap the first time on the track. I knew if we could just get it to cut the corners we were going to be in good shape. As the practice went on we gradually got better and better. That's what's impressed me most about this team recently. The communication, the chemistry and every time we're on the track we're making good decisions and improving our speed or our position. That's basically the effort that was put out out there today. We went out to make a qualifying run late in practice and everything just came together. The car went through the corners. We ran a 28.58 in practice and I knew that was a phenomenal lap then. I said if I could get close to that in qualifying we'd be in good shape. We went out fairly early but the car stuck great. The guys did a great job with setting up the car, making a few fine adjustments to go faster out there in qualifying than we did in practice." "They are definitely different (Charlotte and Atlanta), but I can say that the setups are very similar. We ran almost the exact same setup today that we ran in Charlotte. I think the corners are a little bit tighter, not quite as fast at Charlotte, but the setups are very similar. You don't let off the gas much here. Really, to win the pole you can't get out of the gas. You've got to ease off of it and then get right back in it hard. I think that obviously we learned some things at Charlotte. We got the car very comfortable and sat on the pole there. Those same things paid off here. This is the same car we had at Charlotte, but as you remember we crashed it at Charlotte in the race and we had to put a new body on it, at least the front end of the body. They did a great job rebuilding that body. It was very good here today. We've got to get a little bit better in the race than we were at Charlotte. We fell back at Charlotte. I think we know what we've got to do for the race. I'm looking forward to the race on Sunday. "I think this right here today was a big plus. These guys are pumped up. I really see them coming together as a team. We're gaining momentum, and I see a big difference in the chemistry of the team. We know we're not in it for the championship this year. We're ninth in points. We're just trying to build for next year. Runs like today, and hopefully a good run on Sunday, will do a tremendous amount for our race team and our run for next year's championship. "Once you've won one championship then your only goal is to win another championship. That's our goal now every year to win the championship. This year we went through a lot of changes with personnel and the body change and the tire change with Goodyear. It hasn't been a stellar year for us and we know that. I think what we want to do is take this group we've got right now and build on that to be championship caliber by the time we get to Daytona next year. Over the last 10 races, I think other than one or two glitches, we've shown we're championship caliber because we've been finishing in the top five and top 10. I still would like to get our car a little more competitive to get up there and battle for more wins. That's traditionally the way we've won championships and that's the way I'd like to win a championship again. In order to be more competitive, we've got a little work to do still, mainly on our bodies. The team has come together. We've just got to get the car a little better. "I'm very fortunate where I've been a part of two legends finishing up their careers here at Atlanta. Obviously the first one was Richard Petty. That was my first race and it was a real treat to be a part of that. I don't know if I even knew how special it was that day. Now to be a part of Darrell and his career. He's been a tremendous inspiration to me. I've really gotten to know Darrell. I didn't get a chance to know Richard Petty. We didn't get to race together a whole lot. Darrell is just somebody who has a lot of character. He's done a tremendous amount in this sport and for this sport. We're going to miss him, that's for sure. We're looking forward to seeing him in the booth and hearing him in the booth. I definitely wish him all the best, especially here on Sunday. He's influenced me in a lot of ways. With my relationship with God, he's influenced me a lot with that, but also there's just times you've got to show your emotions and true self and feelings, and he's certainly always been one to do that. He's influenced me with that many times, too."