JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS - Qualified 2nd How was your qualifying run? "Obviously good. You're always a little disappointed when you're that close to the pole and you don't get it. All day long we've been solid. To draw...
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS - Qualified 2nd
How was your qualifying run? "Obviously good. You're always a little disappointed when you're that close to the pole and you don't get it. All day long we've been solid. To draw a late number and have a shot at has been a lot of fun today. The guys did exactly what they needed to do to the race car. Everybody was fighting this wind (and were) a little bit loose down (turn) one and two and a little bit tight in (turn) three and four. That's exactly what I had today. I knew coming to the green it felt good. I really after it through one and two and got through there great. I just kept telling myself all the way down the back straightaway don't over-drive it, don't-over drive it. I really didn't feel like I did but I needed to use a little bit more brake or wait a little longer to get back in throttle because the wind definitely did affect us more than I anticipated. I don't think the car could have been much better. It's just all about how much speed I carried in there. To miss it by two-hundredths of a second, that's pretty disappointing."
Do you look at Kasey Kahne as a younger version of you and where you were at his age? "Obviously there's a lot of comparisons with the background of racing he has, driving for Ray Evernham. Ray is not the crew chief (but) there's still that tie there. I think Kasey is a tremendous talent. Like we've seen throughout the years of this sport when you take a talent and you put underneath him a good piece of equipment and surround him with good people, they're going to excel. That's what those guys have right now. They're really setting the benchmark right now for all of us out there. It's good for him and has the rest of us all chasing."
Is your second-place qualifying effort a shot in the arm to help you keep your season turning around and getting back on track? "One of our goals this year was to qualify better. You look at the last three weeks, we've had two top fives and one top 10, right outside the top five. We're definitely meeting our mark there and making some big improvements there but we've still got some work to do on the balance for the race. I think this is a race track where we can really challenge ourselves with everything we've been learning. It's a big, fast, very smooth race track and you should be able to push the limits a little bit more than what we have on some of the other tracks. Like last week, it was a big track but fairly rough track so it's kind of hard to attack there and the other 1.5 mile tracks that we've been on other than Charlotte. We had kind of a crazy tire situation there but I've been looking forward to coming here. I feel like if we can make some improvements here really it's going to say a lot about our program and the things that we're learning that we're going in the right direction."
What have you done during the week on the car? What are your expectations for Sunday and how will you keep up with the track? "Part of keeping up with the race track is keeping track position. We've been giving up too much track position because the car starts to fall off and we want to make adjustments. I'm asking for certain adjustments and Steve (Letarte, crew chief) is putting his best thoughts together with the engineers up there on the box and making those adjustments and we're giving up track position to do it. You just can't give it up as much as we have been. Last week was a perfect example. I think we were running fifth or something like that and we decided to come in to make some adjustments to get better to try to win the race and we lost track position and never regained it. There's some guys that are out there that have their act together that much to where they're able to make up that track position. For us right now, I think that's what we'll focus the most on. We're obviously starting second. That's a great way to start the race with track position and have a good place to pit the car on pit road and hopefully we can have a good enough car where we don't have to think about giving up track position but we can maintain it all day."