Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Dupont Chevrolet Monte Carlo (5th fast in 1st practice session): "Practice didn't start out too great, but these guys did an incredible job of getting the car better as the day went on compared to when we first went out there.
Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Dupont Chevrolet Monte Carlo (5th fast in 1st practice session):
"Practice didn't start out too great, but these guys did an incredible job of getting the car better as the day went on compared to when we first went out there. They put some more sealer and stuff on the track and that made it pretty tricky at the beginning of practice. It took a little while to get used to it. But there at the end, the grip came back and we were pretty good."
Why do you do well at this track?
"I like this track. If the car works for you and the motor runs well, that's usually a pretty good sign of how well we're going to run. I give a lot of credit to the team and their preparation."
Compared to the car and the driver, how much of your success is luck?
"I think luck definitely plays a part in it. No doubt about it. Last weekend (at Darlington), I felt pretty lucky to finish second because I hit the wall really hard with about 35 (laps) to go. I thought we were going to fall back pretty far. So to come out of there in second was pretty lucky. Lately, we've had good runs and luck on our side and we've taken advantage of it. That's why we've got a good points lead. But that stuff doesn't last forever. We're going to have days that don't go our way. We've got to continue to work hard and to fight hard no matter what."
Are you a fan of short tracks?
"Certain ones, absolutely. I've had to work hard on some of the short tracks. In 1993 and '94, Martinsville was my least favorite racetrack. But we've tested and made a lot of laps and ever since then I've enjoyed it and we've run well there. Richmond, I don't really consider it a short track even though it is. It's fast enough and wide enough and has enough grooves where the speeds are up but I don't really consider it a short track. But I love this track and I've always run well here."
Would you like to see more short tracks on the circuit?
"Absolutely. I'd love to see more tracks like Richmond. I understand why we've seen a lot of one-and-a-half mile racetracks being built. They're fast and they can make for good racing. The fans are taken care of with seating and there's a lot of room in the infield to take care of the competitors. What we really need to look at is what makes for the best race. To me, a track like Richmond makes for the best racing. We're bumping and rubbing, but yet we're two or three wide like some of the bigger tracks we go to. If I was going to build a racetrack, I'd probably build one more like Richmond than anything else."
Should there be a red flag rule?
"As long as they can be consistent, I don't know if we need a rule. I don't know if they need to necessarily write it in a book. As long as they can do it consistently, I'm fine with it. I'm not saying I'm not a fan of it either. It certainly helped me out last weekend. The downside of it is that usually there are going to be torn-up racecars. It's going to be exciting and it makes for exciting and I can understand that too. The thing that I probably would not like to see is for that to happen at Talladega and Daytona. I think that's taking it a little bit too far. I'm hoping that we don't see red flags at those two tracks."
If you could make some changes at Loudon, what would you like to see Bob Bahre do?
"That's a tough question because Bob's spent many millions of dollars to put a great facility up there. If he's got many more millions of dollars (to spend on it), there we could do some things that could make it better. The downside again is if you're going to run IRL and fast cars like the Modifieds, putting banking into the track is not going to help them. But if you want good Winston Cup, Busch, and Busch North races, you've got to put banking into it. We need banking. Every track we go to where we put on a good race, we've got banking."
Do you think the newcomers like Kevin Harvick usually "push to the edge" before being called into the NASCAR trailer?
"I think that just about everybody has been talked to by NASCAR somewhere along the way. It depends on what kind of circumstances you're dealt with out there. It's just more competitive. Every position, every point means more. And you've got to run hard sometimes. And when you run hard and if you take it too far, NASCAR's going to say something. I think they need to draw the line somewhere because you don't want to set the precedent that we're just going to allow guys to just go in there and knock a guy out of the way. What they want to see is good hard racing. But they want it to be as clean as possible.
"Some of the post-race stuff seems like it's getting a little out of hand. I think the professionalism of the sport has gotten to the level now where these guys need to be more aware of that. You've got to be able to control your emotions. This is not Saturday short track racing, you know. I think you've got to be responsible for your actions. If you do something on the racetrack or afterwards in the garage area, I think they need to do something. Maybe if it's the first time, it's to sit you down. Maybe the second time, they need to do more. And money doesn't do it. These guys are making a ton of money. If you fine them $10,000, that's like pocket change to them."
-Team Monte Carlo