JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: Q: On the battle with Junior at the end. "His car went away. My car was pretty I tight. I saw, Junior, struggling there when Newman was trying to get by him and I was hoping I could get up...
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
Q: On the battle with Junior at the end.
"His car went away. My car was pretty I tight. I saw, Junior, struggling there when Newman was trying to get by him and I was hoping I could get up there to him and those two could get side-by-side racing, because I knew I couldn't pass both of them. As soon as I got up ten car lengths from them, I just -- the car was done, and I couldn't do anything else. So, you know, got up there to, Junior, he really started pushing and got a run -- a couple of runs on him and got underneath him actually one time, and just, you know, kind of stalled the car out so much coming off the corner that he got back by me, and then there at the end I tried to get a run and get as loose as I possibly could and I did and I got underneath him, but he just ran me down low and we slid around and bumped and banged. It was fun, you know. If it had been for first, it would have been a lot different deal, but since it was to second and I'd like to get some points, I just figured we could come out there at the start finish line wherever we were supposed to."
Q: Were you surprised that Newman was able to do what he's able to do with two tires or is it the case of having a good car being more important than having four fresh tires?
"Yes, I guess I'm somewhat surprised. I mean, this is one of those places where tires don't do as much as what you think. And I think his car was balanced pretty good and maybe they did some things to free the car up or, you know, after we ran a while actually having the right side versus the left side was better balance for him. It's hard to say, but his car looked like it was about the best it had been all day long so those two tires obviously did something to help him there.
"You know, Junior, took off on four tires got up underneath him and went by him. I know how my car was all day and my car was just super good on the long runs and that just wasn't maybe a long enough run there and even when I got up there to him, I was more tired at the end than I had been all day. I've seen it before and I was surprised, I guess, when he lost the lead that he was able to maybe get back by him. That was probably the bigger surprise, but Junior's car went away pretty bad there at the end. He was really pushing it."
Q: What's your frustration level at not yet having won at this race track?)
"It's -- the only thing that was frustrating for me was that the caution fell when it did, you know, and it seems to be doing that a lot for us here lately, so I think that we had the car to beat today.
"I mean, we were in position, we were leading the race, came in the pit, came out and the caution came out. I mean, there was a wreck, but caution came out and, I mean, we basically went from leading the race to, you know, down a lap, and had to work our way back. And so to work our way back up to third, I'm happy. We are doing everything that we can. I mean, the cars are awesome, the pit crew has been phenomenal. You know, I've made a couple of mistakes that, you know, I want to make up to the guys on, and today we were flawless. Absolutely flawless. It's just that the caution fell when it did and put us, you know, back there, so to come back to third I think says a lot.
"You know, I would like to win here and I think I've had cars capable of winning here. When we're ready to win -- or when somebody else is ready for us to win, it will happen. I thought that was today. I really thought we had this one today."
Q: What's your reaction to NASCAR keeping back the lead after you passed him coming out of the caution mid way through?
"Somebody is going to have to explain that one to me. It's frustrating. I don't think that just because the leader wants to let the guys have a lap back, doesn't mean that everybody else behind him has to let them have a lap back. I think it's his choice whether he wants to let them have a lap back or not. If he doesn't, then the next guy in line can choose. I did. I was the leader when I crossed the line. I didn't think there was any reason to let those guys have the lap back. We are racing those guys not only for a win but for a championship and I just didn't think there was any reason for me to let them have a lap back.
"If he wanted to choose it, fine. Then for NASCAR to, you know, put those guys back on the lead lap or whatever lap it was that we were on, that just blows me away, and I don't understand it. Somebody is going to have to explain it to me from here on out and as soon as they explain it to me, I'll know what the rule is."
Q: Is there a Gentlemen's Agreement?
"There is a gentleman's agreement to pass for position, but we are talking about keeping cars down a lap and I don't know of any gentleman's agreement that says that I have to let cars have their lap back, even if I'm not the leader. It's always been the case where, you know, the leader -- you're trying to pass the leader, okay, and you know -- which I think to the whole giving a lap back thing is crazy anyway, but because we have teammates, we do kind of stretch that a little bit, but I think that if he chooses to let -- to try to let those guys have a lap back, then the gentleman's agreement is out the door, out the window. If there's guys back there that we are battling for a win and a championship with. I wasn't trying to pass Matt. That's why I gave him his position back. As soon as we crossed the line, I said, Matt, go ahead and have your position back, but as far as I'm concerned, I'm not get letting those guys have a lap back and basically NASCAR came in and said they changed it and we went on racing the rest of the day and didn't worry about that from then on."
Q: On the balance of the competition today.
"I thought it was pretty balanced today. You look, early on the nine car was really going and then the 12, the 38, the 17 were really good Fords. You had the 8, the 48 and 24 were good Chevrolets and you had 01 and 10 Pontiacs. I think if you get the right combination underneath it, it seems like everybody can make their cars work."
Q: Should NASCAR being racing back to the caution in the first place?
"I don't know why we don't invert back to the last lap anyway. It's dangerous, you know, they -- it -- you know, I don't agree with it to begin with, but who am I to say how that should be handled? I've done racing where the caution comes out, you stop races. If you invert back to the last lap and start scoring from there, but that was when cautions didn't count, so it's not my rule. It's their rule and I'm going to race it, but that doesn't mean I'm going to like it, you know, and I don't like it, because, you know, I've seen situations that were very dangerous and plus you see these guys sometimes that are a lap down doing things that, you know, are very questionable, you know, where -- the positions they're putting the race car in, putting a lot of people in jeopardy just to get the lap back to get it back, and as long as that's the rule you're going to see that happen."