Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Dupont Chevrolet Monte Carlo: Comments on 2nd place finish. "No, I don't like getting out (of the track) early. There was a lot less traffic when I got out of there (after winning at Michigan) last week. It was a good run...
Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Dupont Chevrolet Monte Carlo:
Comments on 2nd place finish.
"No, I don't like getting out (of the track) early. There was a lot less traffic when I got out of there (after winning at Michigan) last week. It was a good run for us. We definitely had a great car. We did everything we possibly could to win this race. Sometimes you just can't control when the cautions come out and when they don't. Unfortunately, that got us behind. It's one thing holding off those Yates cars, it was another thing trying to pass them. Ricky (Rudd, winner) made a great move when he got three wide with DJ (Dale Jarrett) and Jr. (Dale Earnhardt Jr.), and he was gone after that."
How important was clean air in this race?
"Clean air was the key to the whole race today - about winning and about how fast you went. Early on, it seemed like we were able to drive up pretty good. I think we drove up to about fifth. Then we had a great pit stop and got up there and got the lead. When we got the lead, you saw how hard I fought for it. I wasn't about to give it up because clean air was so important. If you got up front, and a guy got up right on you, he could get you loose and get underneath you but he still really couldn't pass you. If you could get clean air and then get away, man you were gone. Every time I got away, they couldn't catch me. Every time Jarrett got away, they couldn't catch him. Same thing with Ricky at the end. Once DJ and myself and Jr. were racing there, he got just five car lengths (ahead), and it's hard to catch him there."
What does it mean to you to have this end your winning streak, and how
important are the points right now?
"Honestly the most important thing to me is having (a streak of) just really strong runs and finishes. To come home second today - I think we led the most laps - is the kind of effort I'm looking for in our team. And if that effort gets you to Victory Lane, you did everything you wanted to do. Unfortunately it just caught us a little bit short. Yeah, I would have loved to win three in a row. I want to win every race I'm in. When it's your day, it's your day. Ricky probably should have won that race last week, so it's kind of ironic that he won it this week.
"Yeah, we gained points and we're going to a track next week that's one of my favorites and I'm really looking forward to that. So things are still rolling right along for our team and we're real happy."
When you and Dale Jarrett and Ricky Rudd were all lined up behind Dale Jr.,
how did that come into play?
"Well, I think that cost Dale Jarrett the race. I do believe that. I think had Jr. not been there, Dale Jarrett would have gotten in that clean air and taken off and pulled away. Jr. put up a heck of a fight. If the caution had come out, he would have been on the lead lap. He had a good car and he could have gotten back up there. So you've got to fight for everything you can and he was fighting to stay on that lead lap. You can't blame him for that. But you hate it for Dale Jarrett and it looked like he used his car up pretty good trying to get by him. And not only did he lose the lead later, he ended up losing second (place) too."
On lap 125, lap 153 when you came out and there was a lot of traffic out
there, how much patience did you have to have to get around them?
"There's a lot going through your mind at a time like that. You know you have a good car, there's going to be another pit stop, you don't want to rush things, you want to stay out of trouble. So you're being cautious, but you're also trying not to hold yourself and lose too much momentum. I got held up real bad in the initial start - they were three and four wide and getting kind of crazy. And it cost me a lot of time. And Dale and Ricky Rudd just took off. They were gone. Had it gone green the whole way, we wouldn't have even had any fun with them. At least the caution came out and gave us a shot at it and we got to have a little fun. When you're in that type of situation and the further back you are in the field, the more the air affects the car and the less clean air you have and the car just runs horrible. Just getting back that far in traffic and having those cars ahead of you. If you watched it, you would have thought that whatever adjustments we made were off. It didn't look very fast and it didn't feel very fast. But it was just getting back that far in traffic and having those cars ahead of you just totally stops the car from working and stops aerodynamics. Once we got back up there with those lead guys, the car was just about as good as it had been all day."
Talk about the pit stops relative to this particular track.
"The key was fuel mileage and how many stops we had to make after that. So we were running our race. And that's what you've got to do. You've got to race the racetrack. And if it happens to go green all the way, you wan to make sure that you can get there. Some of those guys that short-pitted would have been in trouble if the caution hadn't come out. That's just part of racing. You've got to make calls that you feel good about and stick with them. If they work, you're a hero. If they don't, don't get frustrated with it and lose your confidence.
"We just didn't need that last caution that got us behind. It just didn't fall for us. It got us behind. It's hard enough to hold off those Yates cars, let alone catch them and pass them. I'm just really thrilled to come home with second. It's a good finish for us and a good points day. It was another great effort. We've got to keep our momentum up and keep doing it."
Could you have won if there had been 10 more laps?
"No, I don't think so. Catching him was one thing, passing him was another thing. I really used up my tires so much trying to get by Jarrett, I felt real fortunate to get by him."
Mike Skinner, No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo (finished 12th)
"We've struggled ever since we got here. We tried to do a lot of stuff like the No. 29 car. We set our car up like theirs and ours was tight and theirs was loose. There were some differences in the bodies or some geometry that we just couldn't figure out. We all thought about it and pooled our information together and came up with a plan to try and we tried it. The Lowe's Chevy was actually pretty good there for a while. We just couldn't get track position.
"But we could have had a lot worse day. We'll take it. We don't have a scratch on the car and we'll just keep on hanging in there and get back into the top 20 in points."
Rick Mast, N. 50 blair.com Chevrolet Monte Carlo (finished 22th)
Best finish since Martinsville
"The chassis was just off all day. We just never could get the chassis to work loose. We got it decent one time, but the rest of the day we were junk. But we finished 22nd and we'll just take it and go on."