Part 2 of 2 JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - (Winner - takes his 3rd win of the season, his 61st Winston Cup career win) WITH THE FOUNDATION OF THE NO. 48 TEAM BUILT ON THE NO. 24 TEAM, CAN YOU BEAT THEM? "Everybody out...
Part 2 of 2
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - (Winner - takes his 3rd win of the season, his 61st Winston Cup career win)
WITH THE FOUNDATION OF THE NO. 48 TEAM BUILT ON THE NO. 24 TEAM, CAN YOU BEAT THEM?
"Everybody out there is beatable. If we're on top of our game, I don't think there's anybody better. But we know what we're up against there. We know what the cars are and we know what the power under the hood is. There are places where they're good, and places where we're good. We can't beat them if we get knocked in the back like we did at Dover. If we're flat-out racing them, there will be some when we'd beat them and some when they'd beat us. Usually championships don't come down to that. They come down to failures and they come down to mistakes. They rarely come down to just a guy outperforming. But if this thing stays the way it is, that's what it's going to come down to in the last few races. We'll have to wait and see."
HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A POINTS RACE LIKE THIS ONE?
"Not that I've been a part of or that I've seen. Typically, when you're in a season you have that mindset that it's your year. Something clicks to give you an edge that you're going to do it. You just feel good and the right things are happening. Many times this year, I haven't had a clue. It's been an up and down year. Other than '97, when it came right down to me and Mark (Martin) and Dale Jarrett, I've never seen a year like this where so many guys are capable of winning it and yet none of them seem to be a dominant force to take it. I really don't know what it's going to take or who's going to come out on top, but I do believe it's going to come down to either the final race or at least right there at the end. Somebody has got to get some momentum. After we won those two back-to-back races I felt like momentum was on our side. We were 60 points out. I'm hoping we can start over and get back in that groove. All year long, nobody has really stood out."
ON TALLADEGA NEXT WEEK
"I don't know what this new fuel cell is going to do, but hopefully it'll spread the field out and we won't have as many cautions. But if we don't have any cautions, it's going to come down to fuel mileage. And I don't know how that's going to shake out. Talladega is anybody's race. We know that going in."
ARE YOU THE MAN TO BEAT RIGHT NOW?
"A lot of guys have won their first championship and it isn't always based on experience. We won our first championship in '95 and we were up against the best: Dale Earnhardt and Richard Childress Racing. If you've got the cars and the confidence and the ability, you're capable. The team is capable. It doesn't matter how many championships you've won in the past. I know how a team functions by having a championship under your belt, it puts you in a position to go through the ups and downs and ride the waves. If I thought somebody had a clear-cut advantage, I'd tell you. Based on us winning the race today, I'm feeling pretty good about our efforts. We've got to get further down the road before we know who's going to take this thing."
ON NASCAR'S MEDICAL POLICY OF MANDATORY FOLLOW UP?
"I think it's a good idea. If you can't clear a CT Scan, you don't need to be out there in a race car. You don't need to be out there on a football field. I'd also like to see them get us some water and something cool when we're out there during red flags. I'll put that one in for today."
ROBBIE LOOMIS, CREW CHIEF
WHAT DID YOU DO DIFFERENTLY ON THE KANSAS SET-UP THIS YEAR FROM LAST YEAR?
"Things really do change so much that aerodynamically the car is a lot different this year than last year. And the tire is probably the biggest change. We had a different right side tire. We had Jack Sprague out here and test and we learned a lot from that. Jimmie and Chad went to Kentucky and tested a couple of times and we learned a lot from that. From that, we came up with some good stuff that obviously worked."
DO YOU HAVE TO TALK TO JEFF ON THE RADIO AND MOTIVATE HIM DURING RED FLAG SITUATIONS LIKE TODAY?
"The one thing you don't tell him is that you've got a cold drink of water up there (laughs). Jeff is a self-motivator. I knew he was fine out there. He came on the radio and said he wouldn't be surprised if some of the drivers passed out (from the heat), and he didn't mean himself. He had visions of seeing that checkered flag when he came back around there."
RICK HENDRICK, TEAM OWNER, HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS:
ON JIMMIE JOHNSON TAKING OVER THE LEAD AND JEFF GORDON NEEDING TO WIN TODAY
"To come out of here with the lead and to gain points is really good. It's going to be a war to the end. There's a bunch of good cars there and they're running hard every week. Nobody can put it on cruise control. Everybody's got to race as hard as they can every week. It's anybody's championship, I think. We're just glad we've got two (teams) in the hunt and hopefully we can have some good luck and one of them will get it. It's going to be quite a contest between now and the end of the ear because there are some really good tracks coming up for them."
WITH THE SPORT BEING SO COMPETITIVE, IS IT POSSIBLE TO MATCH OR BEAT THE NUMBER OF CHAMPIONSHIPS WON BY DALE EARNHARDT OR RICHARD PETTY?
"Oh, I think so. Jeff Gordon is only 31 years old and already has four championships and is going for the fifth one. The competition is stiffer. But if we can control the failures and finish every race, we can leave the rest of it up to Jeff Gordon. The answer in my heart is yes."
HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A TIGHTER BATTLE FOR THE TITLE?
"I've never seen four or five cars that were in this position. If Ryan Newman or Matt Kenseth hadn't had any bad luck, they'd be right there too. In the past, maybe you had four guys you had to beat. Now, you've got 10 or 15 guys you've got to beat. The competition has changed. I don't think a guy that can start in the middle of the pack and never lead and just conserve and wait for the end of the race has got a shot out there anymore. That's the way it was when we first started racing. But now, you've got 10 or 12."
RICK HENDRICK AND ROBBIE LOOMIS: ON ENGINE DEVELOPMENT
HENDRICK: "You always try to improve it. We did step it up a couple of weeks ago and we've been running all kinds of tests and simulations on the dyno. But we brought more power and turned more rpms. That's pretty tough to ask the engines to do that all at the same time. But we have a lot of confidence in Randy Dorton. He's been there since the beginning. We've got a great shop. If we wanted to step it up, Randy felt comfortable. When you look at races, it's hard to say you got beat by horsepower if you go back and look at all of them. Durability is something. The first priority is that you've got to be there (finish)."
LOOMIS: You have to always keep the big picture in mind. I knew we would have had this a lot sooner if Randy had 100% confidence in it. The nice thing about Randy Dorton's engines is that when you bring them out, you can sleep good on Saturday night. You know it's going to be rock solid on Sunday."
-team monte carlo-
Winning team press conference, part I