JEFF GORDON , NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: ON A FIVE-DRIVER CHASE FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP "It doesn't matter whether there are 10 people in it or two. We have to do the same thing. We just have to go out there and put our best effort ...
JEFF GORDON , NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
ON A FIVE-DRIVER CHASE FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP
"It doesn't matter whether there are 10 people in it or two. We have to do the same thing. We just have to go out there and put our best effort forward and try to get the best finish and performance that we can and not really pay much attention to what other guys are doing and just focus on our own program. It's kind of the same thing we've been doing all year long. It doesn't mean it always works, but I don't know of any other way to really do it. When the pressure is as intense as it is for the championship these days, I think it's the way you have to do it to mentally stay in the game."
ON RUNNING AT PHOENIX THIS WEEKEND
"We tested here a couple of weeks ago. We tested really well. I was very happy. I'm really looking forward to getting into race conditions. We didn't make many qualifying runs and the ones that we did we knew we had to improve on. The track has picked up and some guys have run some really fast laps. We're trying to get qualified as best we can and then get ourselves into the race conditions that we fell comfortable with and good about."
WHAT HAPPENED WITH THE REAR END GEAR LAST WEEK IN ATLANTA?
"I couldn't tell you. I don't know. It happened and we try to make sure it doesn't happen again. But sometimes those freak things happen and you've just got to take it and move on with it. But honestly, I didn't even care. I let those guys who know more about it deal with it. If there's anything I'm doing different, then I've asked them to tell me. Other than that, let's just go to the next three races and get all we can get."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS NOW THAT WE'RE SEVEN RACES INTO THE CHASE FORMAT?
"I like it. I think it's a positive thing, for sure. I think there are more positives than negatives. My feelings are the same today that they've been since we started this thing and that's that there need to be a few minor adjustments in the points and the way they're structured. But I like the Chase. I think having 10 guys in it is the way it needs to be. It has certainly added more excitement and entertainment to it."
IS YOUR APPROACH TO THE WEEKEND ANY DIFFERENT?
"I wish I could say that we knew what we could do differently. We come to the race track on Friday to qualify the best we can and practice as good as we can in our race practice and on Sunday, drop the green and run good. I don't think there is really much else we can go. We just need to pay attention to detail and try to really be methodical on how we break down every segment of the corner and make sure that when we get out there that we know we've given it everything we've got.
"It's just been difficult. It's just been frustrating. I know we're better than this. You never know what goes on. We just haven't gotten the cars comfortable. We've been fighting loose, loose, loose, and loose. We've just been having a hard time keeping up with the pace and the cars are loose. Maybe if we do anything different we might start off a little bit tighter and try to back off from that."
BUT LOOSE IS FAST, RIGHT?
"This is not Days of Thunder. It depends on the track that you go to. Some tracks, being free can be a good thing - especially the high speed tracks - but loose is not going to be good."
ON BEING THE POINT LEADER OR BEING THE ONE CHASING THE POINT LEADER
"It was a burden and you have a lot of pressure put on you. But I'd rather have that pressure than be the guy chasing any day of the week. Anytime. I'd much rather be the guy with the pressure and the bullseye on him - saying he's the guy leading, he's the guy you've got to beat. That's a much better position to be in than anywhere else in my opinion."
IS THAT JUST BECAUSE YOU KNOW WHERE YOU HAVE TO FINISH AND THAT YOU CONTROL YOUR OWN DESTINY?
"Yeah, I think it's yours to loose instead of having to make something happen or hope something happens to the other guy to win it."
WITH THE SEASON WINDING DOWN, SO YOU LOOK AT HOW MUCH IS LEFT OF IT OR DO YOU STILL TAKE ONE RACE AT A TIME?
"I've always just looked at one race at a time.
"We have people on our team who plan ahead and who prepare for races coming up. But as far as I'm concerned, all I do is focus one at a time and put all of my efforts on that one race. When that race is over, I put that one behind and think about the next one."
IS THIS A "MUST WIN" WEEKEND FOR YOU?
"Well, in a lot of ways, yeah. I don't know if we have to win, but we do if those other guys are going to finish in the top 10. We want to win here because we've never won here before and it would be a huge benefit for us to get some momentum back and get up on top and get back to victory lane. It would be a great way to close out the season - regardless of the points. But at the same time, it only matters where the other guys finish. You get all you can get and then it just matters where the other guys finish. It's just like last week. When Kurt (Busch) had his problems, we were really focused on getting that top 10. And then we had our problems and we came out of there really not gaining anything."
ON TODAY'S PRACTICE SESSION
"It was decent. We're fighting a little bit of loose off and a little bit of tight in the center. Some guys really stepped it up there at the end of practice. I was shocked at how fast these guys were able to go. We made a pretty good qualifying run and really stayed about 15th. So we need a couple of tenths. We're going to make some final adjustments. And if I can get a good lap, I think we might be able to get a top five."