Martinsville: Winning team interview, part 2

Continued from part 1 WAS TODAY'S DETERMINATION TO DRIVE GREATER BECAUSE WHAT THIS VICTORY WOULD MEAN? Gordon: I don't always know what drives the determination of me or any other on this race team or why we accomplish things sometimes. You ...

Continued from part 1

WAS TODAY'S DETERMINATION TO DRIVE GREATER BECAUSE WHAT THIS VICTORY WOULD MEAN?

Gordon: I don't always know what drives the determination of me or any other on this race team or why we accomplish things sometimes. You know, I can't really put my finger on what that was. Once I get in that race car, I'm thinking about nothing else except driving that race car. I think my determination came from: this is Martinsville, we run good at Martinsville, the car was amazing and I knew that we couldn't give up. We couldn't quit. And every other guy on this race team knew that and they weren't going to quit. And I wasn't either. That's why we came together. Any race, but especially the short tracks, we have a team meeting before the race and we say: there are going to be obstacles, hurdles that we've got to overcome no matter what. No matter how good the car is, whether we're leading the race or whether we're dead last. We think those things are going to be thrown at us to test us. Today was one of those days where we met those things head on and nothing was going to stop us.

RE: CLOSE CALLS, HOW CLOSE WAS IT WHEN THE #8 SPUN AND WHEN YOU AND KURT GOT TOGETHER

Gordon: That's why I never try to wreck anybody because I always get caught up in it myself. Every time I've gotten mad at somebody and I'm going to take him out, I always take myself out or damage my fender or my bumper or bump and cut a tire. The last thing I wanted was to intentionally get into anybody. I would hope that Kurt would understand that that's hard racing, that I've seen other guys do it, that I would do it and it's just us two racing for that position when we drove down in there, because I drove down in there so hard and tried to avoid him, that I was afraid that when I saw he was coming down and he wasn't checking up, he wasn't going to straighten out and I knew we were going to hit. I just held onto the wheel. The #8 car, I kind of saw him getting out of control and I didn't know which way he was going to go. Also, the #99 lost it right in front of me and I didn't know which way he was going to go either. Yeah, you're always going to have close calls like that at Martinsville, you're going to have contact with guys, you'll have people upset at you. I felt like I drove, for the most part, one of the cleanest races that I have here in a long time or any of the short tracks. But with that said, there is always going to be controversy. It's going to be part of it.

JEFF - WHEN YOU GET DOWN IN THE DEPTHS YOU WERE TODAY, DO YOU STARTING THINKING YOU NEED TO PICK OFF CARS WITHIN A CERTAIN WINDOW?

Gordon: You just pick off the next one in front of you (Jeff Chuckles). One of the moments that I thought was frustrating was when we were trying to get the lucky dog back, I think Tony was leading, I think, but I am not sure, the 19 was in second and those two were going back and forth and I was third in line even though I was still one lap down. They started lapping cars. So Robbie would say 'The next guy you have to pass is such and such.' So I would go and pass them and then he would say 'Now you have to pass such and such cause they just lapped him' and it just kept going. Every time I would pass a car, they would pass another car and so we actually didn't get the Lucky Dog back right away because the 45 went a lap down and he got it. So we had to wait until the next time. So that was frustrating because I didn't want to run out of time because I knew how good our car was. I knew we would be going all the way to the back when we got our lap back and were on the lead lap and we were going to have to fight our way through lapped traffic. Any time you get down like that you are going to get frustrated. But it helped with the frustration because we had such a good car. If we couldn't have passed anybody, it would have been a much bigger issue, but as difficult as it was to pass here, we were able to pass pretty good which is an indication of just how good our race car was. But you just focus on the next car ahead of you and run the fastest laps you can. I mean, I wasn't thinking about brakes, tires, nothing. And just going as hard as I could. When we got on the lead lap, I had a little bit of an issue with the brakes, I thought we were going to melt them down. Once we got on the lead lap, I couldn't run as hard as I did trying to get the laps back because I was in a different traffic situation with a much were in a much bigger group of cars running the same speed.

DO YOU EVER RECALL FROM YOUR EARLY DAYS TO NOW EVER BEING BEHIND THAT MANY LAPS AND COMING BACK TO WIN THE RACE?

Gordon: No, I don't think so. We were a couple laps down in Bristol and made those up and thought we had a good car but got caught up in the wreck. But no, I can't. In my racing, the early days for me was before Busch, if you got a lap down, you were done. Because we didn't run long races and there was no way to make your lap up. When the caution comes out, you don't get lineup next to the leader and get your lap back, that isn't how it works. So I guess, no, I don't remember ever doing that.

WHERE DOES THIS WEIGH IN COMPARISON TO ALL YOUR WINS WITH THE CHALLENGES YOU FACED TODAY?

Gordon: I think they are all special, I think they all have their obstacles. I don't know, the last one was the Daytona 500 and it is kinda hard to beat that one. This one is special but that one was pretty incredible.

CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR PASS ON STERLING MARLIN?

Gordon: I don't remember? Do you mean for the lead? Ok, yes, I think he either stayed out and didn't get tires or came in and only took two tires. You know passing Mark Martin was much tougher. Once I got to Sterling, I knew my car was working better than his because the tires were starting to catch up with him. Or rather the lack of tires that he had. I just remember going into turn one and arcing the car out and getting a really straight shot up off of two and getting underneath him. I think that is what I did but I honestly don't exactly.

JIMMIE JOHNSON SAID YESTERDAY THAT HE PLANNED ON BORROWING SOME OF YOUR SETUP BECAUSE HE HAD BEEN HAVING SO MUCH TROUBLE THIS WEEKEND, DID HE THANK YOU AFTERWARDS FOR HOW MUCH HELP THAT WAS?

Gordon: I will guarantee you he wasn't thanking us half way through the race (Jeff Chuckles) . I saw that they were struggling and I thought to myself that if they were using that setup, it wasn't working out too well for him. Everybody has different driving styles. We talked about sharing setups all the time, and that is why sometimes you might see the 48 car wearing the field out and we might have the same setup and it doesn't work as well for us and vice versa. They did a great job today. I talked to Jimmie there after the race and asked him what the problem was he said, they were so tight and pushing really really bad. They had to free the car up a ton and if we had similar setups which I think we did, for some reason it was a lot tighter for him than it was for me.

SOME OF YOUR HENDRICK TEAMMATES WERE TALKING IN THE INFIELD THAT THEY WERE SOMEWHAT SURPRISED THAT RICK HENDRICK CAME TO THIS RACE, AND IT KIND OF CAUGHT THEM A LITTLE OFF GUARD THAT HE CAME HERE. WHAT IT IS ABOUT HIM THAT HE COULD DO THAT?

Gordon: Honestly, I was surprised too. Someone told me, I think it was Robbie shortly before the race that Rick was here and I wasn't expecting it and was surprised. But it was happily surprised. I think one of the things about Rick is that he is such a well grounded person and so down to earth, I think he recognizes how the world works. I think he recognized that this was maybe something that he is the kinda guy who wants to face it head on. I certainly can't speak for him, but if I were to guess, I think that would be his thought process to deal with it head on because that is how he has gotten through life and it hasn't always been a cake walk for him. He has had to deal with a lot of adversity, but nothing quite like this before, but I think it is just that he has that kind of personality and kind of drive within him that he felt he needed to be up here and needed to deal with this with by being here but I am not positive. I wish I had what he has.

THIS TRACK AND TEXAS HAVE LITTLE IN COMMON, BUT THE WAY YOU OVERCAME EVERYTHING TODAY AND WITH YOUR RECENT RUNS AT TEXAS, DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU CAN NAIL YOUR FIRST WIN THERE?

Gordon: Oh man, I sure hope so. I thought maybe we were going to get it last year but you just never know what is going to happen until the checkered flag waves. I felt like we were in perfect position to win last year and had an ignition problem So we just go back there knowing what we know now about these cars and hopefully we will be good or better as we were last time. It would sure be nice to get some momentum back on our side. We have been a little up and down here lately, probably more down than up. We are sill riding high on the Daytona win, but that is going to run out eventually. The fourth we had at Vegas was good, we have had great runs with great cars, but haven't put the finishes together so this win today is definitely nice. So hopefully this will give us good momentum to go to Texas and get it done.

CAN YOU RANK THIS WIN BASED ON HOW HARD YOU HAD TO WORK TO GET THE WIN-FOR EXAMPLE, THE 99 DAYTONA RACE IS AN EXAMPLE OF A RACE WHERE YOU HAD TO WORK ALL DAY LONG TO GET IT. DOES THIS RANK UP THERE WITH THAT ONE OR ANY OTHERS YOU CAN THINK OF?

Gordon: Well I think there is a difference between mental determination and physical determination because this is so much more of a physical race than Daytona so they don't even compare there when it come to that. I just know that you have to push and shove, you have to set cars up to pass them, you aren't dealing with a resitrictor plate or any of those things. So as far as I am concerned, there is no comparison, I would have to think about it for a while to think of another race this compares with where we had to fight hard to get the win. They all compare as far as the hard work that goes into each race and none of them are easy but it seems like lately, they have been making us work hard for everything we get.

IN THE BIG PICTURE, YOU WENT FROM 12TH TO 6TH IN THE STANDINGS, I WOULD HAVE TO THINK THAT WOULD MAKE YOU AS HAPPY AS ANYTHING ELSE THAT HAPPENED TODAY LOOKING AT THE SEASON FORWARD. HOW IMPORTANT WAS IT TO GET THAT BOOST IN THE STANDINGS?

Gordon: We talked about before the weekend about trying to get solidly in the top-ten. You don't want to get to race 20 and be teetering on being outside the top ten. This is a step in the right direction for that. A win at this point in the season is definitely going to be taken positively and hopefully we can roll with this and get some momentum going back with us and get away from that inconsistency. And stay up in the points and work our way in the top-five, that would be the ultimate if we had our wish."

WITH JIMMIE'S WIN AT ATLANTA AFTER THE CRASH AND YOUR WIN HERE AFTER BEING THREE LAPS DOWN, DO YOU EVER WONDER IF THERE IS AN OUTSIDE FORCE WORKING?

Gordon: Robbie and I talk about that all the time. You never know how things are going to happen or why they happen the way they do. All you can do is concentrate on the things you have control over and we have control over how that car is prepared, the communication that we have, the teamwork that we have and then there are just things that happen you can't explain. I don't know if we will ever have the answers as to why things happen but obviously it was meant to be today."

DID YOU INVITE JIMMIE DOWN TO VICTORY LANE CAUSE HE DIDN'T GET TO CELEBRATE LAST YEAR?

Gordon: Jimmie and I are both headed to New York so maybe we will get together and celebrate his win from last year and mine from today. He definitely came down there to victory lane but I can't say we celebrated a whole lot.

-gm racing-

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Mark Martin