Jeff Gordon , No. 24 DuPont Monte Carlo SS - Finished 2nd "It was a really good day for us. I thought we were going to be about fifth or sixth and to finish second I'm pretty happy with that. Not the last re-start but the one before that, I ...
Jeff Gordon , No. 24 DuPont Monte Carlo SS - Finished 2nd
"It was a really good day for us. I thought we were going to be about fifth or sixth and to finish second I'm pretty happy with that. Not the last re-start but the one before that, I thought we had a shot at Tony (Stewart) for the win. Unfortunately all the oil was on the track and I was just slipping and sliding and trying to hold on to second."
WHAT HAPPENED ON THE LAST RE-START?
"I did a lot to clean the tires off and try to keep as much heat in them. When we took off the car wasn't the same car. I don't know what it was. I was just trying to hold on because I was completely sideways and my teammates behind me were trying not to get into me. They were racing one another. They got pretty excited. Unfortunately I didn't get as excited as I wanted to for the lead."
DOES THIS TAKE SOME OF THE EDGE OFF FROM LAST WEEKEND?
"Yeah. I think we had that behind us once we got here to Martinsville. I don't carry any grudges. I know that in order to finish in the top five you've got to make as many friends as you possibly can and stay out trouble out here. It was a pretty incident-free race for us."
ON ALL HENDRICKS CARS IN TOP 10:
"I know 5 and 48 were in the top-five and I know Brian (Vickers) had a good car too because I had seen him earlier in the race. Great effort by everyone at Hendrick. We have a pretty good handle on this place. Tony (Stewart) got one on Jimmie and I today but we needed a longer run there at the end."
WHAT HAPPENED WHEN THE LAST GREEN CAME OUT AND YOU WENT SIDEWAYS AND WHEN YOU WERE COMING OFF OF TURN TWO?
"I did everything I could under caution to get the tires cleaned off and heated up but during the restart prior to that, I went through (turn) one and two and it's the best my car felt all day through one and two. I got pretty excited. I thought man we got a shot at this thing. Then the caution came out and then the red (flag) came out. I was doing everything I could to clean the tires off again and I was hoping it'd feel the same way. I drove down in there hoping it would be and it wasn't. The car just completely jumped sideways on me. At that point I was doing everything I could just not to wreck. I think I even messed Jimmie up a little bit because Kyle was battling with him on the outside and I slowed him down because I got so sideways out there. Then I just had to be so easy after that I didn't have any shot at getting at Tony."
DID THE TRACK CONDITIONS AFFECT YOUR CAR AS THE DAY WENT ON OR WAS IT THE WAY YOUR CAR REACTED?
"We made some adjustments yesterday that I thought were going to be really good for today. When the rubber built up on the race track that absolutely killed my line, my set-up, everything we had. The car just would not work today on the bottom line. If it did, I just had to be so patient. I was just real loose in and off all day today. I think we learned some things but we had to make such big adjustments to finally get the car where it could drive off the corner but it still wasn't enough. It was the best that it had been all day. When Jimmie and Tony really got battling there, it allowed us to get up there and take advantage of those guys racing so hard. I kind of had taken care of my tires and got a rhythm and somehow I was able to get in second."
WHAT HAPPENED WITH YOUR TIRE EARLIER IN THE RACE AND WHAT WAS YOUR PLAN FOR BATTLING BACK?
"I just overheated the brakes and melted the bead on the right front tire. It was pretty much my fault. I was running with Kasey Kahne at that time. He had a good car. I was just running too hard. I felt like I was overdriving the car in the corner. I felt like I was maybe putting too much on the brakes and then the car started pushing really, really bad for about four or five laps and boom. We got lucky. We got very luck with that today with where and when it happened. It could have been worse. We could have gotten in the wall and we could have gotten a lap down. We were fortunate that the caution came out and we went back and got our four tires on it and worked our way back up there. After that I definitely took it easy on the brakes and just tried to be a little more patient."
ON WHAT HAPPENED WITH HIM AND STEWART ON THE RE-START:
"The re-start prior to that, Tony took off early. I still got a good re-start. Even that last one wasn't too bad. If he did take off early I wanted to be right there on him. I got to him and basically right as I touched him, he took off which I was expecting. He got a little bit of a jump on me but not enough to really affect things. I got into one right there on him. I was pretty happy with everything until I got sideways off of two. It's frustrating when that happens because we were in the top five at that point I think. We knew that we needed to work on the car. I wanted to be able to do it sitting in the top five not coming from the back. I look at it in more ways as being very fortunate because we didn't go a lap down and I knew we had a car good enough to get back up towards the front. As a racer I was definitely concerned that we didn't have a car capable of winning or even a top three. We were about a fourth or fifth place car most of the day. In that last pit stop Steve (Letarte, crew chief) made a really big adjustment and like I said it was the best the car had been all day."
ON TONY STEWART LEADING MORE THAN 50 PERCENT OF THE LAPS IN THE LAST THREE RACES HERE. IS THERE ANYTHING HE DID TODAY THAT HE DIDN'T DO IN THE LAST TWO RACES HERE?
"He's tough here, there's no doubt about it. When I look at guys that run good here, I put him as one of the top guys. Jimmie in the last four or five races here goes right along with that. This is short track and he knows how to drive a car well at the short tracks. They do a good job setting it up. You've got to know how to run the right line and get the car set up right but you've got to be there at the end too. He races pretty smart and gets himself there at the end. For whatever reason he hasn't had that position which is probably why he's so aggressive with Jimmie because he's let some races get away from him because he didn't have that track position in the closing laps. I would have loved to have taken it away from him but just couldn't get close enough."
ON A LOT OF ROUGH ACTION ON THE TRACK THIS YEAR AND IF IT'S A WORRISOME TREND:
"I think that it's so competitive that you're not giving an inch out there. We expect that in the short tracks but I guess we don't expect at Daytona and Talladega and places like that. The bump drafting thing has gradually been getting worse and worse and worse. It's been a long time coming for NASCAR to really try to pay attention to it or do something about it. I think it's a trend because the competition is tougher. It's harder to pass. The cars are so dependent on aerodynamics these days. That's one of the reasons why we're not seeing as many multi-groove race tracks. But when we do, you don't see all that. When we go to Atlanta, you don't see all that bumping and banging because we have a race track that we can race on. When we come to places where it's one groove, we're going to knock one another out of the way if someone holds us up."
ON HAVING THE SAME AMOUNT OF CONTACT AS BRISTOL BUT BEING ABLE TO GET AWAY WITH IT MORE HERE AND WITH LESS EMOTIONS INVOVLED:
"I finished the race this weekend so I was happy. I have nothing to show."
ON COMING UP TO THE FRONT AFTER YOUR PROBLEM EARLIER IN THE RACE?
"I've always felt like there's times when you've got to be aggressive and times when you've got to patient. Today when my tire blew that instantly sent a message to me that I needed to be more patient. I think I was being a little too aggressive at the beginning of the race at that time and we had a long, long way to go and it just wasn't worth it. From that point on, I did take it and if I saw an opportunity I'd take advantage of it. Then I'd try to cool things down and not push too hard. If somebody was faster than me I'd let them go like Junior and Harvick and a couple guys like that. I really didn't have to beat and bang on anybody today even though there were times when I still had to be aggressive I didn't have to do it with a front bumper. That's what I like to do, when the car is good and set up the way you want it, then you don't have to do that. That's pretty much how it was for me up until I got into the top five. Then I never could get position. I got position one time on the 38 and he got loose. I never touched him but other than that and maybe me spinning out in front of Jimmie with two or three to go, it was pretty uneventful in the right front."
ARE YOU GLAD TO MOVE TO A 1.5 MILE TRACK?
"I wish I could come here every weekend but I know that Texas is an important race track for us. It's a track that we struggled at a lot last year. We've been really focused on trying to get better at that track and we're very curious to see how that goes. Jimmie has been better than us there so I don't know if that's a good track for him or not. I know it's one that will answer some questions for us and give us an indication of what direction we need to be going or if we're going in the right direction with the things we've been doing so far on the mile and halves. I like the short tracks. I like mixing it up. There are times when you're back-to-back on one and half mile race tracks and that gets a little bit old but I like mixing it up with the short tracks and the road courses."
ON WHAT YOU WERE THINKING DURING THE RED FLAG:
"They make you shut down all the fans so the battery is there to start the car. It's gets pretty hot in there."