Note: HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS DRIVERS QUALIFY ONE-TWO-THREE: Jeff Gordon takes the pole, Brian Vickers qualified 2nd, and Jimmie Johnson was third JEFF GORDON , NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - (Qualified 1st) ON HIS 48TH CAREER POLE "I'm...
Note: HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS DRIVERS QUALIFY ONE-TWO-THREE: Jeff Gordon takes the pole, Brian Vickers qualified 2nd, and Jimmie Johnson was third
JEFF GORDON , NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - (Qualified 1st)
ON HIS 48TH CAREER POLE
"I'm not feeling 48 (laughs). I don't seem to have as many poles these days as I used and some of that can be age. You know when to push it and when to hold it back. Today was a day to push it. The car was just great right off the truck. We were fastest right there at the end. When the car feels that good, it makes you comfortable to push. I love this race track so I think I carry a little bit of confidence coming in here because I like the track and get good results.
"But when the car is getting through the corners and down the straightaways like that it certainly makes my job a little easier. We just had to fine-tune it all day long. I wasn't sure what the sun was going to do to the track. But we didn't really factor that in. The car was really good."
ON HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS STARTING ONE-TWO-THREE IN SUNDAY'S RACE
"I'm really proud of the way these teams have worked together and the open-book policy and the chemistry among them. When we put the No. 48 team in the No. 24 shop it took the communication level to new heights. The No. 25 and No. 5 have really seen how well that works. We're all really working well together. It's the best group of people I've ever seen working together at Hendrick. We've got a lot of great people that contribute from engineering to aerodynamics to crew chiefs. Randy Dorton and those guys are really doing a great job in the engine shop. On qualifying day at big tracks like this, that's where the horsepower really shows through."
WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO WIN HERE ON SUNDAY?
"There are so many grooves on the track to run. You just have to get the best balance on the car. One of the reasons I like this track so much is that if you don't have the car perfect, you can adjust and move around on this race track. There are a lot of areas to search around this race track to make your car work better until you can get to the next pit stop to make adjustments. The amount of power we have right now always helps."
GIVEN WHAT HAS HAPPENED IN THIS SPORT OVER THE LAST COUPLE OF WEEKS, WHAT IS YOUR LEVEL OF CONFIDENCE THAT THIS RACE CAN RUN WITHOUT SOME SORT OF PROBLEM?
"What is the confidence that any race can be run problem-free? There are so many factors and things that can go wrong. NASCAR has done a phenomenal job on things for many years. They're under a big microscope and they've made some big mistakes. In many ways we're all in this together. We want to put on great races and make the right decisions and put a show on for the fans and keep the competition close and equal. There are days. At Charlotte we stunk. We made mistakes and we had to live with that. NASCAR is not different. It's how they rebound from that and how they move forward that's important to make sure you don't make the same mistakes twice.
"With what happened last weekend, it was easy to see how it happened. They made the change on Sunday of the process of green and red flags coming on to pit road. It was an easy mistake to make. Now it's much clearer. I don't think you're going to worry about that same thing happening. My biggest concern was how we handle a mistake like that once it's made. That was the conversation I had with them. I feel very confident that we're going to have a good solid race this weekend. If there are mistakes made, they're going to be handled in a timely fashion and in the best way possible. When something like that is done, there is no easy fix or solution. You just try to make the most fair solution for everybody."
HOW HAS YOUR TEAM DEALT WITH THE OUTSIDE INFLUENCES ABOUT ALL THE RULES THAT ARE REALLY OUT OF YOUR CONTROL?
"Our team handles it better than anybody. We've been through a lot of adversity and good times and bad times. When things go wrong, how well you react is what makes you a strong race team. When you win races, it's easy to carry great momentum. It's when you have those down days that it's tough. No matter what happens at the race, we move on to that race very fast and go to the next one - no matter how good it was or how bad it was. When you have 38 races, I don't think there's any other way to do it."
DOES NASCAR COME TO YOU AND OTHER TOP DRIVERS IN THESE SITUATIONS OR DO YOU GO TO THEM?
"I've never really had them come to me unless it was a situation that dealt with me specifically - whether it was a penalty or an infraction or whatever. It may be me or it may be me and Rick (Hendrick) or me and Robbie (Loomis). In this particular situation, I saw Mike Helton at the charity event there at Victory Junction Gang Camp and I asked him if I could call him and what would be a good day. We played phone tag this week and we didn't really get to talk but I talked to him and John Darby when I got here. I think they were thinking along the same lines before I even mentioned anything. So I heard some of their opinions on it. We just threw around some 'what-ifs'. They want what's best just like we do.
"It might not appear that way but I really do believe that. It's no different than us as a race team that they might not always agree with. I felt like I had a very nice meeting with them and felt great about what I was hearing back from them."
WHAT'S YOUR OPINION ON FINISHING UNDER GREEN EXCEPT AT DAYTONA AND TALLADEGA?
"I don't agree with it at Daytona and Talladega. I think those should always be the exception to that rule. I don't disagree with it at other places. We've gotten to the point where we've had too many races ending under caution. I don't think it's right for the fans to have to do through the traffic and money they pay to be at these events. The build up of a 400 - 500-mile race is what they're here for. To stay in their seats for hours, I think they need to see a green-flag finish. I don't agree with that at Daytona or Talladega. If it were a five-lap finish or a 10-lap shootout, if you bunch us up at those restrictor-place races and something's going to happen. The fans are just going to have to deal with those exceptions. We just need to keep our fingers crossed that we end under green. At other places do a green-white-checkered - at least once. I don't think you can keep going green-white-checkered until you get a finish. I think you at least give them an opportunity one time. I think that's fair."
ARE YOU IN FAVOR OF RACING BACK TO THE YELLOW?
"No. I've never been. I grew up my whole life not racing back. When the caution comes out, you invert to the last lap. But that's because green flags didn't count in all the racing that I did. Right now we've got to go with what we have and we don't live in a perfect world. But there was one time last week when the caution came out and I was ahead of the guy but not at the last loop. There was another time when it went the other way. We're all going to deal with that. When it comes down to the finish, it's always good to be interesting than controversial. Until we have a constant loop all around that track and we know exactly where each car is around that track. But I'm not in favor of racing back to the yellow. "