JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT MONTE CARLO SS - Finished 3rd:
THE MODERATOR: Jeff, take us through your run out there this afternoon.
JEFF GORDON: It was a great run for us. We had good pit stops all day, good pit strategy. We lost some track position early on because we had a problem with a lug nut hanging up. That cost us. We had to fight back from that. But we had a pretty good race car and didn't have any brake failures, so we were able to work our way up through there.
I thought Steve Letarte just called a great race today to keep us at track position. Then, finally, the caution came at the right time for us where we could get on even tires with the rest of the guys there. At that time I felt like we had a 3rd place car. To come home 3rd, you know, I was real happy.
JEFF GORDON: Well, obviously, we had a failure here the last time we were here, so a lot of our efforts here this time were to, you know, make sure that that didn't happen again.
We were decent here the last time, but kind of the same thing, we lost track position and were never able to get back there. This time we lost track position and we had a car good enough to get up there.
We shared a lot of notes. We got a lot of notes from the 25 and the 5 car which we felt like they were better than we were the last time we were here. I think it paid off for us. We weren't exactly the way they were, but we were a lot closer to their setup. And from what we've learned over the last month or so, it has paid off for us. To even be able to see the 11 and the 2 is, you know, something that's special for us, to come here. We've been off quite a bit the last few times we've been here.
Q</I>: For both of you, the room's kind of empty right now because everybody's chasing Stewart and Carl Edwards. Were you aware of the penalties that NASCAR issued on those two items, and what did you think about what was going on?
JEFF GORDON: I was behind a little ways. I saw the 99 and the 07 go spinning down the inside. I didn't even think the 20 was involved with that, so I have no idea.
Q</I>: DO YOU AGREE WITH THE PENALTY?
JEFF GORDON: Yeah, I mean, if they penalize you down a lap and then you get the lucky dog, they just put you tail end in the longest line.
To me, I think that when they make those calls, that's pretty consistent with what they've been doing. They've been doing that where when they penalize you a lap, they know you're going to just get the lucky dog the next time, they hold that back from you at least for one time.
Q</I>: Would you like to see the races here reduced to 400 miles?
JEFF GORDON: Is that even a question? I mean, I think that we've known that for years. This is way too long of a race, you know. I think you got to really hand it to the fans to come out here, and the people at home to watch this race, you know, because it's not the most exciting race and it's certainly too long.
I think we'd all love to be here 400 miles. I think it would make it a better race, and more exciting for everybody to cover.
Q</I>: Six of the top seven guys are all guys who are fighting to get in the Chase. Were you looking around, see who maybe you were picking up points on and saying not really picking up on a lot of guys?
JEFF GORDON: You know, you just got to race as hard as you can and let the points fall where they may after your results and your hard work. I mean, that's all you can do.
I mean, it's not like you're pushing harder than you already are. You're pushing so hard to get every position you can, and you hope the points fall in line with that.
Q</I>: Tony Stewart just said that if you ask any of the veteran guys in this garage that they'll tell you that he races fair. I guess I'm asking you, does Tony Stewart race fair?
JEFF GORDON: All but one or two times that I've been with him. You take that for however you want. Other than Watkins Glen and Dover, that's I'd say the only two times I'd say no to that. But other than that, he races pretty fair.
Q</I>: Is there a better way...obviously he's always talking about the need for more respect on the track...is there a better way of going about it instead of sort of taking action into his own hands like he did today?
JEFF GORDON: I mean, I think he's got a tremendous amount of respect on the racetrack. I know I respect the heck out of him. I think he's one of the best race car drivers I've ever raced against. He's a true racer. It's evident from what all he drives, it's the dirt cars and everything else.
But the only thing that Tony has going against him is he's got a little bit of a temper, and sometimes that gets the best of him, you know. That doesn't have anything to do with respecting him on the racetrack.
JEFF GORDON: You know what, though, the cars have gotten more downforce. The tires have gotten harder. It's harder to pass than its ever been. It's more competitive than it's ever been. So it's not like you catch the guy and you're able to just shoot to the outside and go right on by him. You got to race a guy lap after lap after lap after lap, and guys aren't giving up those spots and giving an inch. So sometimes you got to take it into your own hands.
I don't know if....a little bit of that is respect, but at the same time, that's just the way the racing has evolved.
Q</I>: You talk about the 400-mile race instead of 500 miles. I guess I've just been around too long, but you kind of get accustomed to it. This is the fastest 500 miles have ever been run around here. Is there some special reason that a 400-mile would be better?
JEFF GORDON: Well, I just think that this race is so long and drawn out, and it might not be. 400 might not be the magic number. You want to make sure that it doesn't turn into a fuel mileage race even though they all can. But if you just ran 400 miles straight without a green flag, you'd need to look at how many laps you can run and your pit stops because you'd hate to see that happen.
I definitely think this race should be shorter just because you get so strung?out here and then, you know, the race just sort of becomes a different race. It's just not the excitement.
The Mattiolis do a fantastic job. We love coming here twice a year. It has nothing to do with that. This is just a racetrack that doesn't offer the best side-by-side racing that we have on the circuit, and it's a two and a half mile, you know, racetrack that is flat.
It's not like Daytona or Talladega where it's high banks two and a half miles and then flat. You have to look at the lap time. It takes us 55, 56 seconds I think is the end of a run that we're going around this track. I mean, that's almost as long as it takes us to go around some road courses, and we don't have 500-mile races there.
I'm just thinking that we do a lot for entertainment in our sport, to keep everybody excited and into it and a good show, as well as, you know, the core racing of it. I think, you know, less than 500 miles would only make that a better show.
Q</I>: Jeff, talk about the pressure you feel now to stay in the Chase versus the pressure you felt when you won your other four championships, and how much is that pressure going to escalate with each successive race until Richmond?
JEFF GORDON: That's the thing about the Chase, is that there's two different races that are going on right now. Those guys that are wanting to stay up there, you know, and be in the top of the points; those guys that are battling to try to be in the Chase; those guys on the outside that are trying to get themselves up there into the top 10; and then you got guys trying to be in the top 35 in points. It's really made it exciting and put a lot more pressure on a lot more drivers at this point in the season.
You know, I think in the past it was always just a prestige thing to try to be in the top 10, but now you know that if you just get in the Chase, you got a shot at the championship, not just the Chase. And so there's a tremendous amount of pressure. For us not making it last year, there was even more pressure on top of that to try to get into it this year.