Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Dupont Chevrolet Monte Carlo and Crew Chief, Robbie Loomis - Post-Race Press Conference Hightlights. Note: Gordon's victory today was his 67th NASCAR Cup career win, 381st career start, and his third victory in 2004. Today's...
Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Dupont Chevrolet Monte Carlo and Crew Chief, Robbie Loomis - Post-Race Press Conference Hightlights.
Note: Gordon's victory today was his 67th NASCAR Cup career win, 381st career start, and his third victory in 2004. Today's win was also Gordon's eighth career road course victory and fourth win at Infineon Raceway - extending the all-time NASCAR record.
ON A NEARLY PERFECT WEEKEND
"That's the way we need to do it coming in here. We've been running really well lately. We've been running really well lately. We just haven't had things go our way. We came in here and I knew we were going to be strong. I felt things were going well for us when we tested back east. I had a lot of confidence.
"One thing I am proud about with this race team is that they don't let allow bad weekends to get them down. They know what we're capable of and they know how to forget about the past and focus on the next race. That's exactly what we did here. We didn't worry about the last weekend or the weekend before.
"I was pretty disappointed at the road courses last year when we didn't capitalize on our great cars. Obviously we didn't have quite the car we had today, but I felt like we were a good enough car to win last year but we didn't capitalize on it. We didn't get victories on road courses last year and this is a great way to get it started this year."
ROBBIE LOOMIS: "You just have to take it one day at a time. The strength of this Hendrick Motorsports team is just incredible. The support we get is just incredible. When we come in here on Friday, it's just a clean slate. Everybody keeps his head up. I still attribute a lot of that to the confidence of somebody who has won four championships (Jeff Gordon) and pinches you on the shoulder and says, 'We're going to do it this week.'"
HOW MUCH DID THE LATE CAUTIONS HELP YOUR FUEL SITUATION
ROBBIE LOOMIS: "I don't know if it helped the fuel as much as it helped all of our heart rates (laughs). They were huge. There was no question. It was miraculous that we finished that thing because by the numbers, it wasn't looking pretty. The cautions definitely helped us out. The guys were doing a great job on the fuel cell work."
WITH MORE TEAMS GETTING BETTER ON THE ROAD COURSES, IS THIS WIN ANY SWEETER FOR YOU?
JEFF GORDON: "They're all good and they're all sweet. But I think every road course win we've ever had, we've had some sort of challenge whether it was the competition or fuel mileage or trying not to run off the race track. I thought Scott Pruett and Jamey McMurray drove great races today. I know that it looked like we were dominating and I know we were, but I never could let up. I had to run hard every lap. Not only was the car out of gas, but I was out of gas too. I was conserving when I got a gap. Jamie did a good job because he didn't make any mistakes. Scott started racing with him there at the end so I got a chance to relax a lap or two there at the end. But they're all sweet. I'm so beat right now it's hard for it to sink in. I'm looking forward to getting back to myself and celebrate this one and realize how special this one was."
WERE YOU WORRIED ABOUT THE FUEL SITUATION
"Robbie kept saying he knew I was getting tired of him saying it but keep conserving, keep conserving. I guess I learned from my teammate a little bit. I was shutting the engine off rolling down the hill under caution. I was putting it in fourth gear when I needed to and then I was short shifting under green. I thought when we had those two caution flags, we were fine. I'm not sure how close we were or how much we needed to conserve. But obviously we did enough because we made it. We had such a good race car that I was able to jump out there and then start doing a lot of the things to try and conserve fuel. But we were still running fast lap times, so you're not saving too much fuel."
HAVE YOU DONE ANYTHING TO HELP ELEVIATE HEAT EXAUSTION HERE?
"I have. Unfortunately, we didn't have it in the car today. We are tested by many things with every race win, and today I was challenged for my physical fitness because that car was extremely hot. We've been running a carbon fiber seat. The venting and the way we cool the seat was just amazing. I've felt fresher after races this year then I've felt in any race. Now I will say that road courses are more demanding on the driver - especially if you go green flag. There was barely enough time today for me to tell Robbie what the temperature gauges said or to take a drink of water or rest. You are just constantly turning and shifting.
"When you go green flag that long, it just takes a lot out of you. We did not have my carbon fiber seat in this car. It will not fit in my road course car. It will be in the car by Watkins Glen. I guarantee it."
"Last year, here, I don't remember how we got behind on a pit stop. A caution came out or something that put Robby Gordon up front. Even though we were better then him, he still did a good job because I couldn't pass him. Today, there wasn't anybody I couldn't pass.
"At Watkins Glen, I got taken out in the first corner. And then I ran a second faster a lap and ran myself out of fuel. We were much better at Watkins Glen last year than we were here.
"Let me clarify that in 2002 the competition got better (Gordon's last win was 2001). We were a little bit behind. Last year, we got our act together and I felt like we were the best car. We were the car to beat. Circumstances worked out to where we didn't win. This year, we've taken what we had last year and improved it."
WHY WERE YOU SUCCESSFUL ON THE NEW TRACK SURFACE AND OTHER TEAMS WERE NOT?
"This was a really old surface that was very slick. I was happy to see it because I felt like you really couldn't even do anything with the two braking sections and passing zones we have on this track. You'd drive in the corner and there was no grip. If you got off line, there were ripples in the track and you'd wheel-hop. Even if you had a run on a guy, you really couldn't make anything out of it. Today, you could have some fun in those braking zones. You could drive in there deep and not break guys. The grip level, because it was so hot, just seemed smoother to me. The Goodyear tires were different also. This is a tough race track. I think guys always have trouble here. There were many moments I felt like I could have lost control. The trickiest part of this race track is the front straightaway. It's so narrow and it's tight. It you try to get aggressive at all, you'll end up off the race track. I don't why guys have trouble. I was able to get out there in clean air and just run my line and not focus on anything else."
"If the track has more grip, it puts guys in a position to be more aggressive, but you're going to make more mistakes. Also, there were some really good cars that didn't qualify up front that would have been dicing back and forth coming from the back to the front."
WHEN DID YOU FEEL THE HEAT INSIDE THE RACE CAR?
"About half way, I really wanted a caution. We were able to get me some ice packs and some things in there to help cool me down. It was just hot. For some reason, the air system just doesn't ventilate as well with this seat. We try to build a stronger and safer seat and also a cooler seat. The way we vent it in the back, there are grooves that run up and down the seat that really help cool my entire body. Today when I turned the switch on for the cooler, I never felt anything on my back. The later cautions really helped me a lot to be able to come in and get some ice packs."
DID YOU REALLY SHUT THE ENGINE OFF?
"I did today. I don't know, Jimmie Johnson said he did and it saved some fuel, so I tried it. You're desperate. You'll do anything (laughs). This is one place where it can work because you do run downhill for a long ways. Basically, from Turn 7 all the way to Turn 10, I just coasted."
WERE YOU WORRIED THE ENGINE WOULDN'T RE-START?
"Well, it's going to start because you don't have to crank it over. You just put it in gear and let out the clutch. It turns it over and it will start."
ON THE CHEERING FANS
"They were? I can't tell. I can only tell when they throw things out me. That's cool (laughs). I'm glad they were cheering. With me being from this area, I see more Jeff Gordon fans out there than any place we go. It feels awesome. It puts pressure on you too. I'm glad we lived up to that today."
OTHER THAN FUEL, DID YOU HAVE ANY OTHER WORRIES TODAY?
"The thing that got me a little bit worried today was when Scott Pruett beat us out of the pits. I messed up coming into pit row and I didn't carry enough speed around there and he really gained on us a bunch. And then they had a good pit stop and we didn't and he beat me out and I thought, 'Whoa'.
"What I realized was that he wasn't very good on new tires. He was just really good at the end of a run. So I was able to get by him and drive away. And then at the end of a run he'd start coming back at me. It seemed like that's how we were with a lot of cars today."
ON PASSING OTHER CARS
"There are two places to pass - going into Turn 7 and going into Turn 11. Turn 7 is a little bit riskier than Turn 11. Basically, I passed guys whenever I thought they made a mistake or I could get momentum on them. There were a couple of times I passed going into Turn 4, which was surprising. But it was always after a restart and the guys were on older tires or something like that. But that doesn't happen very often. I like to pass whenever I can. We've worked really hard on our brakes over the years. We were really getting into the corners good when we needed to. With the new surface being smoother, we have maximized our braking even more."
WHY ARE YOU SO SUCCESSFUL AT THIS RACE COURSE?
"This is a finesse type of race track. With the type of racing I've done over the years and the type of driver I am, works well with that. You can't over-attack the corners. I just enjoy the road courses. I think they're fun and challenging. The guys put great race cars under me. I can't say what it is. In '94, we started hitting on some things. And since 1995, we've just been on top of our game at these road courses. It builds confidence in our team and the driver. There's nothing sweeter than having confidence."