Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Impala SS met with media after the race and talked about his third place finish, racing with Ryan Newman at the end, how he knew his car was good on long runs based on the frequent cautions, Jimmie Johnson's success at...
Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Impala SS met with media after the race and talked about his third place finish, racing with Ryan Newman at the end, how he knew his car was good on long runs based on the frequent cautions, Jimmie Johnson's success at Martinsville, on green-white-checkered finishes, did he think it would come down to a final race with Jimmie Johnson, how the team reacts every time it returns to Martinsville and the tragedy of the Hendrick Motorsports plane accident, on David Regan and when NASCAR should throw the yellow in certain situations, on losing some points, but holding the lead, on what makes him successful at Martinsville, on running with Dale Earnhardt Jr as a teammate next year, on if Tony Stewart is out of the Chase, and battling with his teammate and friend, Jimmie Johnson.
Select quotes from driver press conference:
UNOFFICIALLY, YOU ARE 53 POINTS AHEAD OF JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS AND 115 OVER CLINT BOWYER, NO. 07 JACK DANIELS IMPALA SS, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THE RACE TODAY?
"Oh man, it was all over the place for us. Obviously it started out great. We were just up front really cruising and the car was fantastic. We were just trying to fine-tune on it. And then we had one problem in the pits and had to come back again and that pretty much made us play catch up all day long. I was also trying to be careful because we were just in a lot of traffic trying not to get ourselves caught up in anything. So that worked out really well. And then (crew chief) Steve Letarte did another fantastic job of calling the pit strategy. We got the lead but couldn't maintain it. I don't think that affected whether we were going to win the race today or not because we had the lead. I was real good on the long runs but just not that good on the short runs so those cautions certainly didn't play in our favor. But looking at what it could have been at one point, I'm very, very pleased to come out of here with a third place finish."
ON HIS RUN WITH RYAN NEWMAN, DO YOU THINK HE TREATED YOU UNFAIRLY OR HOW DO YOU THINK THAT WENT?
"I understand he said got in there too hot and made a mistake, but that mistake almost cost us the race. And so I was pretty upset about it, obviously. He was faster than me and he basically told me by his front bumper hitting my rear bumper down in the middle of (Turns) 1 and 2 on one of those restarts. I basically had to give him the inside because I couldn't afford to let him hit me any harder than that, and he was faster than me. So I gave him the inside and we raced down into Turn 1 and all I know is I gave him a lot of room; I was going to get in behind him and try to maintain third or go back after him because the longer we ran, the better we were.
"And all of a sudden I felt him just slam into me. And it almost spun me out. And so I was pretty upset about that. I showed him my displeasure when the caution came out. Obviously that probably made him upset as well. But we talked about it when the race was over. I went over to him. We were both calm. I explained to him why I was upset and he explained to me why he was upset. And it's a dropped issue and we move on."
GIVEN THE NUMBER OF CAUTIONS, HOW COULD YOU POSSIBLY KNOW IF YOUR CAR WAS GOOD ON LONG RUNS?
"Because the long runs that we did have, we were really good; like the one where we ran Jimmie down. I'm not sure how long of a run that was. But you can tell the handling of a car at the beginning of a run, whether it's going to be good toward the middle or the end of the run or not. My car just really didn't turn very good getting in and was real loose off on the short runs. And that's how it was on every run, basically. But when we had the longer runs it came to us. With this car, once you set the car up, you can't do anything to it. There is just hardly anything you can do to it, other than air pressure, that affects this car. So, you're pretty much stuck with it. It's not that we didn't know it was like that. There just wasn't anything we could do about it. We were just keeping our fingers crossed that we would have more green flag runs.
"And the other thing is the way this track is, it builds up rubber. You could see sometimes how it builds up rubber in the middle of the grooves at both ends of the track and that changes your line. You can start running through the middle of the corner and diving in the corner getting a straight shot off, and that played to my set-up. And on the restarts, you don't have that rubber that you can use to hook the middle of the corner and get the straight shot off."
SHOULD THE SYSTEM BE EXAMINED REGARDING GREEN-WHITE-CHECKERED FINISHES?
"Yeah, I think we should just have more cautions and more spins and more wrecks and maybe they'll like that. I mean, c'mon. Cautions breed cautions. And when you stack us up and you give us one to go, people are going to crash. And it's rare that doesn't happen. So if you stack us up and do it again, we're probably going to do it again. I think that's the reason why the rule is the way it is which is one green-white-checkered. But I thought it was still a great finish even if it came down to the white flag, you look at the runs prior to that and me and Newman were bumping and banging for second. I got inside Jimmie a couple of times prior to that and that was pretty exciting. So, I'm still not a fan of this car. If you put me back in 26th or whatever with one of the best cars and it's everything I can do to pass the 25th place car. And to me, there's a problem. And if we can't pass at Martinsville, how are we going to pass at other tracks? I just think that either we've got to do something to the track or we still need to make some adjustments to this car. But the only thing that got me where I was, was the fact that we had a good car and we just got track position and pit strategy saved the day for us. But no, I don't think they should change anything. I kind of like the way it is."
-credit: gm racing