Still winless, but still in the points lead
RICHMOND, Virginia -- Jeff Gordon led 173 of the 400 laps at Richmond International Raceway in an effort to put Chevrolet in Victory Lane for the fifth time in the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Gordon narrowly missed his first win of the season by finishing 0.946 seconds behind the race winner, Joey Logano, in his No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet SS. The finish helped him maintain the overall points in nine of the 36-race season.
The series goes from one of the shortest tracks on the schedule to the longest as they head to Talladega Superspeedway on May 4th.
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET SS:
THE MODERATOR: We've now been joined by our second‑place finisher, Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet. Jeff, you led a lot to laps tonight. Talk a little bit about coming to the end there, that final restart and coming home with a second place finish.
JEFF GORDON: Yeah, I really thought when we started on the inside there that we were going to have a real shot at it. My car was a little bit freer underneath those guys than I anticipated, so I kind of fell back to fourth, and then we had a couple more restarts. We got into third, and then there at the end actually I got right behind Matt on that last restart and I knew I was better than him, it's just a matter of trying to get him up off the bottom and get a run on him. That was tough. And then the 2 was just right there, and his car was just so good on the short runs, and to be able to go to the outside like that is just ‑‑ shows you how good your car is on the short runs.
When he got to the outside of me, I thought we were done, but then Matt started driving up the racetrack to block him and gave the inside to me, so now here I come back, and then Matt sort of turned down and I clipped him and didn't get a good run off of 2, and then the 22 came. At that point it was really just trying to battle with those guys to get the best finish that we could, and the 22 was in a great position while we were all sitting there sliding around battling it out. To come home second is still a great finish. Would have liked to have seen a longer run because we were really, really good after about 20 laps. That's when our car really seemed to come on. It was a great night. We were having fun. Gosh, what great race cars we're bringing to the racetrack, great pit stops all night tonight. It's frustrating to not win, but also each time we run this good, it builds more confidence and momentum that we're going to get that win soon.
Q. You kind of just touched on this, but you haven't won in a season where winning seems to mean more than ever. But you seem very confident and pleased with where your team is at right now. Is that different than you've felt about it in recent seasons?
JEFF GORDON: Absolutely. I mean, as good as we're running, I definitely feel like we can win races just about anywhere that we go, and if we continue to perform like this, we are going to win. That's how you win. I mean, yeah, there's sometimes when you just pick the right pit strategy. There's other times you get a good restart, and then there's times when you just go and outrun them. I'll take outrunning them more times than any because I think that's when the multiple wins are going to come. You're right, I mean, normally I'd be ecstatic with leading the points and where we're at and consistency, but right now those wins are just so important. I mean, I'd rather be 12th in points right now with three wins than be leading the points.
Q. Obviously there's different circumstances that lead to some of these great finishes, but it seems like almost every week this year there's been some exciting finish or memorable or close at least. What do you make of all that, and what's the reasoning behind that?
JEFF GORDON: Well, I mean, as much as we're beating up on Goodyear right now, I think that's also contributed to some great races. You know, more cautions and more double‑file restarts and ten‑lap, eight‑lap runs to the finish, those are all things that make for great racing. And short tracks, you know, like here at Richmond typically bring that to the forefront anyway. I don't know. I mean, I can only say that I'm enjoying this car and I attribute a lot of that to my team but also NASCAR for making some really good adjustments. The cars are fast, they're comfortable, fun to drive, you can be aggressive with them. I think we seem to be at our best on the tracks where finesse is a little bit more important, tire management, things like that, California, Texas, here, Martinsville, and that's where we're really shining right now, and that was the case also tonight.
Q. Two things: Did Matt (Kenseth) do anything wrong there on the last couple laps? And what's your perspective on the tire situation?
JEFF GORDON: I mean, I think Matt did what he felt like he needed to do to win. For some reason on that last restart he wasn't as good as he was the previous two, and he didn't get out there. So he started making his car extremely wide. I ultimately think that might have cost him not just the win but more positions, but I think as good as that 2 was there at the end, I think the 2 was probably going to win. The 2 was so much better than him that had he just run his line around the bottom, then the 2 was going to probably just get to the outside of him and go right on by. I mean, all night long I just had to let the 2 and the 22 just go by me because they were so fast for 10 laps and then I'd reel them back in and you can't do that when you're leading the race. I think that Matt did what he felt like he needed to do, and he made his car really wide and probably didn't make the guys behind him very happy, but I can't say he did anything wrong.
The tire? Yeah, I'm not a fan of the dual‑tread zone. We had it at Texas. The cars just slid the front getting in the corner. It was the same case here. Just has no grip in the front getting in the corner. But I also think that we're doing a great job with this tire making our car go fast. So while I don't like the way it drives, I also think we're very competitive with it, so I'm not going to say a whole lot. I will just second what Kyle said is that I think the idea behind this is to make it more durable, and that does not seem to be the case, so I think there definitely needs to be a little bit more research to go into it to try to perfect it.
Q. How much does this second‑place finish build your confidence with the points lead?
JEFF GORDON: Well, I mean, yeah, it definitely ‑‑ I mean, we're running good. We're running really good. I'm excited about that. And any time you're running this good consistently week in, week out on all different types of racetracks, it gives you confidence as a driver, as a team, but you also know especially this year more than ever, you've got to go close that out. If you're going to lead that many laps, have that good a car, you've got to go close it out and you've got to get the win. So this confidence will build if we keep running like this, but eventually it can also fall off if we don't put a win or two together with that.