Jeff Gordon -- ...
-- #24 DuPont Chevrolet
Note: Three victories at Talladega. Second time in a second place position start (in 1996 went from 2nd to win the race).
This is a proven race car here. We won this race with this race car here last year, so I'm pretty happy about that. What I'm really excited about is that our best car is sitting in Daytona and the guys went to work on this one knowing it's our next best one. They massaged on it. The engine shop did their work and we came here and qualified second and we're fast all day. I'm thrilled. I'm real happy the way it's going.
CHEVROLETS THE CARS TO BEAT AT THIS TRACK?
I don't see how you can give anybody an advantage here. Other than qualifying, we're out there by ourselves. That's when you're going to find who's got the raw speed. In the race, once you get into the draft, it's an equalizer. I've never seen a car out there look stronger than another one, really, especially here at Talladega. So, I think it's more of who knows how to work the draft and use their mirrors and who has a pit crew that is solid all day long to hold onto that track position.
CHEVROLET HAS WON 12 STRAIGHT RACES. IS THAT A COMPLETE ACCIDENT?
Yeah, but look who they are. I think that DEI's restrictor plate program contrinuted to a lot of those wins. And I think that you put any body style on their car and they are going to run good. I think that some of it just has to do with what they're doing, not with what make of car they've got. I drive a Chevy, so I'm happy to hear that. But I don't think that has everything to do with it.
HARVICK AND A LOT OF OTHER CARS PICKED UP TIME OVER PRACTICE. WHY DO YOU THINK THAT HAPPENED?
I knew that we ran an 85 in practice and thought that we had one or two tenths left in it and that's exactly what we had. How you go out there and pick up almost a second? And all of them did it, except for maybe the Kerry Earnhardt car. All of them did. You know, you've got to give them credit. Whatever they did, it certainly worked for them and they're on the pole and we're second and I'm happy with second. I'm not going to complain. But it definitely gets your attention when you see that.
YOU SAID THIS RACE GIVES YOU A HEADACHE BECAUSE OF THE TWO AND THREE WIDE DRAFTING. DOES IT STILL DO THAT?
Well, not as much of a headache as it used to with the roof rail and the wicker bale in the back. But it definitely still gives me a headache. This is a race that you never stop to take a breath, really. Even though the track is easy to drive, it's the draft and being around all those other cars that make it so challenging. You're just sitting there running wide open, nothing you can do to run away from anybody. You've got to run right in the middle of the pack. And obviously if you get out, that's the best thing to do. It's hard to do, even at Daytona, I ran second and third and fourth most of the day until we finally had to get out of line to make a move because we were running out of laps. But when you're in that bunch like that all day long, it's sometimes hair-raising because you see accidents and stuff. They don't always materialize, sometimes they do. Your hands are somewhat tied behind your back. You're trying to do your best to pay attention to every little detail going on, and there's a lot going on. It gives me a headache.
DALE EARNHARDT'S BIRTHDAY TODAY. DOES THAT GIVE YOU ANY PAUSE THAT IT MIGHT BE TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE?
No, I didn't think about that at all really. I think he's a crowd favorite. There are a lot of Earnhardt fans that are here that know that his birthday would have been today. It's a great way for them to celebrate. You've got to give him credit. All I'm saying is based on what Ben (Blake) said is that they go out there and run one lap in practice and park it and go out there and pick up six, eight tenths to qualify. Whatever they're doing, it makes us think about.and I'm not saying they are doing anything wrong. Whatever it is that they're doing, it's only for one or two laps and they don't really have it for the race. You know, it will be interesting to see what happens when we go to impound. You know, when we come back here and impound.
BUMP DRAFTING: HAS IT GOTTEN OUT OF CONTROL?
I think the day we started bump drafting, we went over the line! But, you know what, we don't have a choice. It's either that you get used to it or deal with it or get off the race track. It's here to stay. It's not going anywhere. It's an evolution of technology, aerodynamics, restrictor plate racing, all of those things. It's not going to go anywhere. Instead of not trying to bump somebody, we just beef up our bumpers more and more. And you know, to me what takes it further over the line is when somebody does it in a tri-oval or in a corner. And I'm hoping that there's been enough incidents-and I know there were in Daytona-where it got people's attention to know they can't do that. I'm hoping they recognize that on Sunday and we'll have a good race.