JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: (ON THE HAPPY HOUR SESSION) "We're definitely not where we need to be right now. We can't seem to get the balance right. We're bouncing between loose and tight and we just can't seem to get the...
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
(ON THE HAPPY HOUR SESSION) "We're definitely not where we need to be right now. We can't seem to get the balance right. We're bouncing between loose and tight and we just can't seem to get the balance the way we need it."
"You constantly evolve your set-ups. Even from last year to this year we would be totally different anyway. We're trying things that we know to be competitive, but we're not getting the feel we want. So, right now it's not working for us. But we'll try everything we can to figure it out by tomorrow."
(WHEN DALE EARNHARDT WAS 33, HE HAD WON 11 RACES. IF YOU CONTINUE TO DRIVE PAST THE AGE OF 40, YOU COULD OBVIOUSLY WIN A LOT MORE RACES. DOES THAT SURPRISE YOU?) "It shows that experience obviously means a lot in this series. To me, it's not about what age you are, it's how long you've been in it. I think when you've given the opportunity when you're young and can come in this sport early, there is going to be a period of time when you're only going to get better. And then you're eventually going to reach a point where you're either losing touch with the way the cars are performing or you just don't have that drive and desire anymore. Right now, I still have that drive and I have a great team and great cars and hopefully I can win a lot more before it's all said and done. I don't know if that means I'm going to drive into my 40's or not. I think because Dale got a late start, he drove a lot longer. Ricky Rudd is one of those very few guys that I can see out there that has started you and has continued to stay consistent for a very long period of time."
(OF THE FOUR TRACKS WHERE YOU HAVEN'T WON, IS THERE A COMMON TRAIT?) "Besides Phoenix, the common trait is that they're all new tracks. We just haven't had a number of opportunities - but this is a track I feel like we should have won at. I think this is a track where we've actually been good enough to win at. Chicago, we've been decent there. At Homestead, we've had top five cars but never a car good enough to win.
"At Phoenix, we've had some moments, but that one has been one that we've had a top five car but not the car to beat. I think one time we were, but we got beat by a guy taking two tires. So, no, there's no real common trait there."
(WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT FINISHING THE SEASON UNDER THE LIGHTS?) "I'm really excited about finishing the season under the lights. I love nigh racing. I think it's awesome. I'm extremely concerned with the start times of these races. I don't think they're taking the competitors into account enough because they're not recognizing how the sun sets and how blinding it is at these race tracks. I think they need to be pushing these times back later. Or, they need to find a way to block the sun for us because we can't put enough things on the windshield or on our helmets to block it."
DAVE BLANEY, NO. 07 JACK DANIELS CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"We were happy with the car. We aren't just rocket fast for the first five laps or a run, but after that we're real happy. That's kind of been the train with this car. It goes pretty well on long runs. So, we're happy. We've got a pretty good place to start tomorrow and we'll go from there."
(ANY CONCERNS ABOUT WHEELS?) "No, I think we've got that under control. I don't think that's a problem."
(IT'S PRETTY HOT TODAY AND WILL PROBABLY BE SUNNY AND HOT AGAIN TOMORROW. DO YOU HAVE A FEEL FOR WHAT THE TRACK CONDITIONS WILL BE?) "Hopefully it'll be like this. We had pretty close runs today. But for us, the hotter the better. I think the slicker the better. I think our car will go better the hotter it is."
(ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO PHOENIX NEXT WEEK?) "I really like Phoenix. That's been one track that I run decent on and I like going there. I've been going there for a long time. It's our first night race out there and I think that'll be fun."
(DO YOU THROW THE NOTEBOOK OUT ON PHOENIX BECAUSE EVERYTHING WILL BE DIFFERENT?) "Well, you don't know. The cars are different this year. The tires are different. Things change all the time and that'll just be another one."
(DO YOU THINK THE PHOENIX RACE SHOULD START LATER IN THE EVENING AFTER THE SUN SETS?) "Yeah, if I remember right, the sun going into Turn 1 gets pretty bad. But I don't know. Everybody will have the same problem. We'll just deal with it."
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
(HOW IS THE CAR TODAY?) "We're good right now. We got the car to run a fast lap. It's still a little too tight on a longer run. I give a lot of credit to my crew guys-we've been working very hard since Martinsville. We figured things out towards the end of Martinsville and we're working things out here at Texas. I'm a little bit disappointed with yesterday's qualifying effort but all in all, a decent base starting mid pack. Starting this morning the car was off, but we made a lot of progress. The guys have been working hard, so I'm pleased now."
(ARE WE GOING TO SEE ANOTHER HENDRICK / ROUSH BATTLE HERE?) "I certainly hope it's that way, and with the Hendrick guys up front. But, it's hard to tell. At this point in the season there are a lot of teams sorting stuff out. You'll see the normal people up front. It's all a cycle. Somebody has it figured out, we've had it figured out along with the Roush cars lately.and Jeff Gordon and everyone has been hard at work at home working hard. You'll find that there's a mixed bag in different teams with different teammates."
(HOW WOULD YOU GRADE YOURSELF THUSFAR IN THE SEASON?) "Well, since I never had a lot of "A"s growing up in school, I would give myself straight As on my report card so that I could say that I had one once. But, all in all, it's been good. I've been very proud of the team. We work strong. we've worked through some adversity and still been strong. I think everybody's been doing their job on the Lowe's team and everybody deserves an A."
(WHAT KIND OF RACE DO YOU THINK WE'LL SEE HERE AT TEXAS?) "I think the Busch race will tell us a lot more. I played with the second groove a little bit in practice and it worked for me. I'm hoping that we'll move up and get three and four-wide racing going on the race track."
(HOW ABOUT PHOENIX?) "I hope so. Chad is very excited about Phoenix. It's been a great track for us. We struggled there a little bit last fall, but I'm going to go back a little bit smarter this time.
New Hampshire, really, we have to work on.our short track program and our mile program. Phoenix will be the first time back with our new ideas. We're very excited, we think we've found some things and we'll find out on Thursday afternoon, I guess."
(DO YOU LOOK FORWARD TO THE UPCOMING RACES? HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THEM?) "I feel good about all of them. I'm hoping I'll get my first plate win coming up at Talladega. Phoenix should be good. There really isn't a track out there that I'm not excited to go to. I'm looking forward to the road course races that are coming up. We've got some practice coming up for that and the road courses. So, it's good. I'm really enjoying all the tracks and my cars and I look forward to all of them."
(CONSIDERING THE SPEEDS HERE, DO YOU ENJOY RACING HERE?) "Yeah, the speeds are high in qualifying, especially. But in race trim, they slow down quite a bit, you know, from the tires heating up and stuff like that. It slows down to a good pace to race. I think with the softer tire and the weather, we'll see the groove widen out, wider than it's been at other times. I think that will put on a good race. It doesn't really bother me if we're running 180 or 160, just as long as we're side by side. That's where we get frustrated as drivers as well, when it's a single file race."
(DO YOU THINK YESTERDAY'S QUALIFYING SHOWED THE DODGE TEAMS CLOSED THE GAP?) "Yeah, I think anytime you have a model change, it doesn't matter what make you are, you're going to struggle with it a little bit. I know the Dodge guys have been working hard and it looks like they've gotten things righted and turned back around. That's why I wasn't too excited, the way we started the season. It's great to win a race and be up front and leading the points where we are, but you beat these guys.they go home and they get real mad and come to the race tracks and get to work. Everybody's closing that gap right now."
(CAN THIS BE LIKE ATLANTA? YOU AND CARL EDWARDS COMING OUT OF TURN FOUR?) "I certainly hope that we have a similar situation, but obviously I want the #48 car up front this time."
(THIS RACE IS TWO WEEKS LATER IN THE CALENDAR. DOES THAT MAKE IT WARMER AND HAVE AN EFFECT ON THE CONDITIONS AND RACING?) "I haven't been out enough to really know what the difference is, but this is the first time I haven't worn a jacket at a Texas race, so it's been nice. The weather's nice and the place is great, but I'm not sure if the two weeks really makes a difference or not. Whatever the reason is, I'm liking it and I think it will make for a better race.