JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT / NICORETTE IMPALA SS: TELL US WHAT HAPPENED: "Well, it was a little bit my fault. I didn't want to be on the inside there. My car was really too tight. I wanted to get a run on the outside. But when (Matt) Kenseth and...
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT / NICORETTE IMPALA SS:
TELL US WHAT HAPPENED: "Well, it was a little bit my fault. I didn't want to be on the inside there. My car was really too tight. I wanted to get a run on the outside. But when (Matt) Kenseth and (Dale Earnhardt) Junior got side-by-side, I had the momentum. I went to the inside and I got down to the bottom and thought it was going to stick. I got in the gas and I drifted up iinto Matt and hated that that happened. But I've got two things to say: Bruton (Smith, owner and founder of Speedway Motorsports Inc.), you need a soft wall and to change the wall back there on the back straightaway. Thankfully Hendrick Motorsports and everyone with this DuPont / Nicorette Chevrolet builds an unbelievable race car because that's the hardest I've ever hit."
YOU'RE OUT OF THE CARE CENTER AND THAT WAS A WICKED HIT. ARE YOU OKAY? "I'm okay but I'm going to be really sore tomorrow. It was a really, really hard hit. It took me a while to be able to catch my breath and to get out. I looked down and I saw where the transmission was and it was no longer there. That's probably the hardest I've ever hit and you know it was my fault. We were all pushing so hard there. I got a little bit tight underneath Matt and turned it up into him. I was trying to stay out of hitting him after he spun and it just turned me sideways. I couldn't have hit the wall at a worse angle. It really tore the thing up. I'm really disappointed right now in this speedway for not having a soft wall back there. And even being able to get to that part of the wall shouldn't happen.
"But I'm more thankful that I've got an awesome team with this DuPont / Nicorette Chevrolet because they build a safe race car. I'll tell you what, several years ago those types of hits you wouldn't be standing here right now."
TALK ABOUT THOSE LAST TWO RESTARTS. IT LOOKED LIKE THE NO. 88 (DALE EARNHARDT JR) WAS A LITTLE SLOW GETTING GOING AND CAUSED YOU TO GO THREE-WIDE. WHAT WAS GOING THROUGH YOUR MIND? "Yeah, he (Junior) had a problem the time before that and I didn't pass him because he's my teammate and I wanted to give him a break. I didn't really want to be three-wide down there. I really wanted to get to the outside. I was hoping that we'd all get going there and I could get to the outside of Kenseth on that restart because my car worked better up high in (Turns) 1 and 2. When Junior bobbled, Kenseth got to the outside of him and I took the opportunity that I had the momentum and I went to the bottom and it just didn't stick. When Matt was on the outside of me it just kind of pulled me up into him. I got into him and it was my fault. When he spun, I was just trying to stay out of hitting him and which way he was going to go and it just turned around and got the inside wall."
HAVE YOU SPOKEN TO CHRIS POWELL OR ANYBODY? "I would love to talk to them. I tell you what, that kind of hit shouldn't happen. There is no reason why any track we go to should have that. I could have been really hurt bad, and fortunately it turned out okay."
CHAD KNAUS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS:
WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST PROBLEM TODAY? "We don't really know right now, what was wrong with the car. We just didn't quite have the speed in it that we needed."
ON JEFF GORDON'S HARD HIT: "Some of the tracks themselves need a little changing. There are a lot of things at some of the race tracks, especially at some of the ones that are coming up here pretty quick like narrow pit roads you know, for the guys that are going over the wall that need to be addressed. There are a lot of safety issues that we need to continue as they evolve with in the sport. I think that when things happen, I think the sport reacts in making it better."
THERE WASN'T A SAFER WALL THERE BUT GORDON WAS ABLE TO WALK AWAY. HE TOOK A HUGE HIT. DO YOU THINK THE OLD CAR WOULD HAVE HAD THE SAME OUTCOME AS THE NEW CAR?
"Yeah, it would have been about the same. We've seen a lot of guys hit at places like that and the all the cars really come apart pretty well once they hit. Once you start making cars too strong, that's when the drivers typically get hurt. But even the other car broke away pretty well."
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY IMPALA SS, FINISHED 2ND:
"I am thrilled with this finish. We worked really hard, we spent a lot of time and put a lot in to the test here. We have worked hard all weekend and that race was a lot of work too. Cars were all at the top of the race track, you had to work constantly to get the race car around the race track. It was just really difficult to get around the track and be quick. The car just doesn't have grip. We did well. I am really proud of my team. They gave me great stops and great strategy. I thought I would have something for Carl (Edwards, race winner) if we didn't have the red flag, but we spun our tires on one restart and there was chaos after that.
"The red flag is really antagonizing and anxiety just comes over you when you are sitting there waiting for thirty minutes. You are ready to get the thing over with. You have been running hard all day to get to the end and you have to wait another 15 minutes. That is part of it. NASCAR is doing their job cleaning that track up. It is just frustrating.
"I am proud of my team, we had a good finish, a great finish. Thanks to the National Guard and AMP Energy and everybody.
"We are real proud to be able to get these kinds of runs for them because we feel like we are that kind of a talent when it comes to our team.
"I was spinning the tires real bad on restarts. I was trying to keep my tires clean and I just couldn't figure out a way to keep from spinning them. I was trying to keep some distance on the leader so when he went, I could get in the throttle. But he, (Edwards) he lifted real hard right before he went and it caused me to stop my cars, then I jumped in the gas and it sparked the tires and I couldn't hook them back up. The No. 17 (Matt Kenseth) and No. 24 (Jeff Gordon) got around me and we were all hell-bent to drive down in that corner wide-open but it was getting tight so I lifted a little bit and I got in line in front of Harvick, he let me in or I got in line in front of him there at the bottom. The No. 24 just lost the race car and went up the race track and got in to the No. 17. It was hard, hard racing. That is the kind of drivers we have got in this series, it is fun to see those guys running so hard. But unfortunate how those guys are going to finish, they had pretty good cars.
"We didn't need the red flag though, the tires spinning, that was just more me trying to not set myself up for the restart correctly. The No. 17 , I wasn't sure, but my spotter said he got one big run, laid way back. Me and Matt are good buddies and I do that too, I do that too. I should have done it. You know what I mean. I can't complain about he did it, I should have been doing it myself. That is the way it goes.
"The tire is a little hard, I am curious as to whether we could bring a softer tire and not have wear problems. If that was possible, I would love that. Give us just a tiny bit of left side grip for the center of the corner, just a tiny bit. I think the track here has aged enough that can explore that and see what is up. They are doing the right thing, trying to be cautious on that stuff.
"At the test in the winter time when the track has not got rubber down, you are going to wear tires out. So it would be great to do tire testing right after these races, you would get a good idea what kind of tire you got.
"Getting a good finish is what we needed today, that is paramount to anything else. I would have like to have a shot at Carl. If we hadn't hopped our tires there, we might have a shot at him there.
"Atlanta is going to be just like old Atlanta, we tested there and the tire is great there and the cars should do fine if you get it working right.
MARK MARTIN, NO. 8 U.S. ARMY IMPALA SS -- FINISHED 10TH:
"This was a very solid outing by ourNo. 8 U.S. Army Team," said Martin. "We laid down a great qualifying lap on Friday and backed it up with a strong run today. We made a great deal of improvement over last week and we'll keep building on this and see what we have for them next week in Atlanta."
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 AT&T IMPALA SS, FINISHED 5TH :
"We had a great day today. The AT&T Chevrolet was fast but we were just a tick off. We still need to keep digging but today our efforts showed and we'll go get 'em next week in Atlanta."
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL IMPALA SS, FINISHED 4TH:
"That is a huge turn around for us from here last year, we ran terrible here. We felt really good about our Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet. We kept ourselves in good track position all day and got ourselves up there in contention and I really wanked that last restart. That was the worst restart I had all day. What do you do? I am just glad to see the improvement from last year and the results. We just have to keep clicking them off.
"If you look at yesterday's race and this race kind of mirrored each other, so I don't think it really matters what the car is. It is just really slick. With the speeds you run here, you have to have a really hard tire and the asphalt is new. It is not anybody's fault, just the nature of the beast.
"It was tough out there, your cars slide around a lot and your car would get so out of line all of a sudden.
"It was a good day for our Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet team. Kind of fought like everybody else to get the car handling like it needed to be. There at the end, I just had the worst restart, I thought I could have gotten past the two in front of me but I didn't have anything for the No. 99 (Carl Edwards, race winner)."
CASEY MEARS, NO. 5 POP TARTS/CARQUEST IMPALA SS, FINISHED 13TH:
"It was a long day and we got behind and got down a lap. Just really, really loose early then had a hard time getting our lap back. Once we got our lap back, we had enough speed to easily be in the top-10 or top-five. Alan (Gustafson) and all the guys did a great job with adjustments to get the car where it was drivable at the end and we recovered. We recovered; we recovered with a decent finish. We wanted better but we got a decent finish, we need points."
-credit: gm racing