JEFF GORDON , NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - POLE WINNER Post Qualifying Press Conference Highlights: Note: Collected his fourth career pole at Infineon Raceway - his third pole of the year. He has won from the pole at this track ...
JEFF GORDON , NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - POLE WINNER
Post Qualifying Press Conference Highlights:
Note: Collected his fourth career pole at Infineon Raceway - his third pole of the year. He has won from the pole at this track twice.
ON POSTING A NEW TRACK RECORD
"The track record is because of the track being repaved. It's got a lot of grip. I think they've got just a little bit different tire out here also. But I was really disappointed when I made the run because I felt like I left the door wide open for other guys to knock us down the list. I knew I made a great effort on the rest of the race track and got everything I could get out of it until I got to Turn 10. As it turned out I think the conditions were much trickier than we anticipated. I thought going out early that was the case. But the wind really kicked up and everybody had trouble with Turn 10. I was just more disappointed because I did the same thing last year. Last year I went off a lot further than I did this year. But we've had an awesome car all day long. We're on a mission. We're not happy with the way things have been turning out for us lately. All we can do is just attack, attack, attack. This is a great opportunity and place for us to do that.
"I was shocked. I'll be honest. I was talking with Robbie Loomis (crew chief) and watching were the guys were ending up - Robby Gordon and Boris Said and Rusty Wallace. I said I couldn't believe we were going to get this pole. We kind of dodged a bullet there. We've got to make sure to keep that thing on track the rest of the weekend. We've got a great car."
IS THIS A PLACE WHERE YOU CAN PICK UP SOME POINTS?
"It's hard to start thinking about that right now. All we can focus on is getting here tomorrow morning and getting this car dialed in for this race. Pit strategy can bring guys from the back to the front in a hurry. Jimmie (Johnson) certainly entertained us all. I don't know how he runs that thing and gets it so sideways and doesn't spin or wreck or hit things. It's pretty amazing to just bring that car back.
"With the new pavement, starting up front is more important than it ever has been before. It's already tough to pass. There are only two passing zones at this track: going into Turn 7 and going into Turn 11. With the new surface and being able to driving in so deep because of the good grip under braking, I think it's going to be even harder to pass."
HOW CLOSE WERE YOU LOSING IT GOING INTO TURN 10?
"It really wasn't about losing the car, it was about losing speed. I knew I had a great lap going. I got into Turn 10 really good. I felt the car starting to push there and we'd been struggling with that all day long and had freed the car to compensate for that. That's why I think that wind really was playing a role. I got in there and I felt it get tight. I hesitated to get back in the throttle because I knew it was going to do that. I felt like I really turned it and got it where I needed to be. I started to accelerate up off there and the car just kept going and kept going and I just couldn't bring it back. I got the left sides off there. I really didn't have to get out of the gas that much, but there was wheel spin there and slowed me from accelerating as much as I wanted to. My next thing was what to do about Turn 11. I knew I had lost some speed and had a little bit of dust on the tires. That was what I was really happy about was getting into Turn 11 really deep and got the car slowed down and hit my marks and still recovered for a good lap. Some guys looked like when they did bobble they weren't able to do that. The next corner got them behind or something happened where they lost speed. That corner could have cost us but luckily we recovered well."
ON GERMAN KLAUS GRAF BEING HERE AND BEING THE FIRST EUROPEAN-BORN DRIVER TO OPEN THE DOOR FOR FOREIGN DRIVERS
"I'm excited. This is a great opportunity. If it were Michael Schumacher, we'd be in a little bit of trouble if that were the case. It's so hard for anybody outside the U.S. to come in and be up to speed right away because there are no other cars like these in the world. I like to think that we excel at what we do. I wish him all the best. I just wish that if we were going to get more Europeans - just like Formula 1 wants more Americans - you've got to start at a young age. You've got to start racing on ovals. You've got to do a lot of different types of racing than what they do anywhere else in the world. It makes us very unique and makes our drivers unique."
ROBBY GORDON WANTS TO KNOW IF JEFF GORDON LIKES HIM
"Number one, I'm not here to like anybody. I have no problem with Robby. I think he's got a lot of talent. The facts are the facts. I don't think he always uses his head. But I think he's got a lot of talent and he's going to be one of the guys to beat here on Sunday. He's not anybody I'd go hang out with. But I've seen him away from the track and I think he's a super nice guy."
CAN YOU APPLY ANY OF YOUR FORMULA 1 RIDE AT INDY TO DRIVING THIS RACE TRACK?
"I wish there was one comparison. There are zero comparisons. It's not even close. You can't attack the tracks. They don't accelerate. I wish I had traction control, I know that. But I think it's like comparing apples to oranges. There's no comparison. I love driving these cars around this race track. This is a finesse track. We certainly saw that today in qualifying. If you were willing to take risks, you'd better be prepared for what can come with that. I got a little bit risky in Turn 10 and it almost cost us the pole."
ROBBY GORDON STARTS24TH ON SUNDAY. HOW DIFFICULT IS IT GOING TO BE TO GET TO THE FRONT?
"It's going to be tough, no doubt about it. If it were me in that same position, it would be very difficult for us. If we were at Watkins Glen, it's not as difficult. There are a lot more passing zones there. There are only two places to pass here. So he'll have to be aggressive, which already puts you at risk. And then you're going to have to be risky in your pit strategy. Those factors work against you but it doesn't make it impossible."
WILL YOU MAKE ANY MORE ADJUSTMENTS IN YOUR PIT STRATEGY OR ARE YOU SET FOR SUNDAY?
"We're going to know more tomorrow. We'll see what our fuel mileage is and our tire wear and what the car is doing and how it's giving up under longer runs. Until then, it's really hard to say what our pit strategy is going to be. Typically on the road courses we focus more on our own strategy instead of what the other teams are doing. You just try to run until you need fuel. If you have track position, you can get away with that. The neat thing about road courses is that you want to get caught on pit road under a caution. You want the caution to come out as soon as you're in the pit box. So you don't want to pit too late, obviously. You've got to stick to your own plan."
ON MANY DRIVERS HAVING TROUBLE STAYING ON THE COURSE -ESPECIALLY ON THE BACK HALF
"I think staying on the race course is going to be the key to Sunday's race. This has always been a track that's not an easy track. It's very finicky. You can't really max-brake anywhere. You can't attack the race track. You have to have a lot of patience. Today, the higher grip level gave you that feeling that you could attack a little bit more. Every time you did, it reached out and grabbed you. To me, this is like going from Martinsville to Bristol in comparison to Infineon to Watkins Glen. They're just two totally different types of race tracks. The track we tested at - VIR in Virginia - reminds me a lot of this race track. It's not the shape or the size or the turns. But it's a track where you have to have finesse and be smooth and not go off the track."
WITH THE CHANGED CURBING IN MANY PORTIONS OF THE TRACK, WILL YOU BE MORE CONSERVATIVE?
"I would like to be involved with them when they're doing the curbing because I'm not a big fan of some of the curbing we have out there. I haven't been able to use the curbs as much today as I have in the past, but I think most of it is because of the new pavement. There is so much grip. You used to really have to bounce around on these curbs here because the track was worn out and there wasn't a lot of grip. You'd use the curb to plant the outside of the car. Now we've got grip and you've got to get on them easy. They're pretty abrupt. They're not small curbs. I think there are some that are a little too steep. I did have to be more careful of the curbs throughout the whole lap early. I would have liked to have gotten on that curb a little bit better in Turn 10. I needed the help of that one."
BY WINNING THE POLE POSITION, YOU HAVE YOUR CHOICE OF STARTING ON THE LEFT OR RIGHT. WHAT IS YOUR CHOICE AND WHY?
"I've learned my lesson on that one. I've picked two different ones before and still wasn't leading in Turn 1 on either one of them. We're going to take the left side, which I guess is the inside. They call that Turn 1. But the real turn is at the top of the hill to the right. It's very tricky to get into those first couple of corners side-by-side here. I don't think it really matters. But I chose that outside one time and it didn't work out for me. So I'm going to choose the inside."