Texas II: Pole winner interview

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS POLE WINNER FOR THE 17TH STRAIGHT YEAR OF FULL TIME COMPETITION ON THE NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES, YOU HAVE EARNED A POLE. THIS IS YOUR SECOND CAREER POLE AT TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY AND YOUR 68TH CAREER NASCAR ...

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS POLE WINNER

FOR THE 17TH STRAIGHT YEAR OF FULL TIME COMPETITION ON THE NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES, YOU HAVE EARNED A POLE. THIS IS YOUR SECOND CAREER POLE AT TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY AND YOUR 68TH CAREER NASCAR SPRINT CUP POLE. TALK ABOUT YOUR QUALIFYING EFFORT

"I'm really thrilled. It's a total team effort from the power under the hood and Hendrick engines to this race car and the total team effort here at the track today with great communication. There's no doubt that our efforts here have improved because we've really focused on it. They started with qualifying and then luckily the last time they showed up in the race as well so we certainly hope we can take this qualifying effort and create those types of results as well. But it was a good day for us.

"We started solid. The car felt good. We were able to just fine tune and keep making adjustments that allowed the car to get better each time we went out. At the end of practice we were fourth on the board and felt pretty close, other than (Clint) Bowyer putting that big number up in practice, I felt like we had a shot at it. And then we went out and drew a great number. The track picks up here and the lap felt really good. I definitely was more aggressive with it and knew we were going to have to be. And it stuck. But I just didn't know if it was quite enough. Unless you're wide open all the way around you just never know if it's going to be enough."

YOU CUT IT CLOSE. YOU ONLY HAD THREE RACES LEFT TO EXTEND YOUR RECORD OF 17 STRAIGHT SEASONS WITH AT LEAST ONE POLE. TALK ABOUT WAITING SO LATE TO GET THIS ONE IN

"We weren't waiting (laughs). We were working hard every weekend. And you know we've been very close. There were times when I really felt we had a pole. And it's like a win, you know? You hope you get it early and accomplish it and get it out of the way so you don't have to think and worry about it and it doesn't build; especially when you've done it 16 years in a row. To finally get it, it doesn't matter to me if it happens the first race of the last race really other than it just takes a little bit of heat off if you it early. But the fact that we did get it and to do it here at Texas, a track where we have struggled at until recently, this is a great place to do it and we're focused on ending this season the best we possibly can.

"We've got three races left and we want poles. We want wins. We want to get a lot of points and get ourselves as high up in the points as we possibly can for the championship and also build something for next year. It's an honor to have 17 straight seasons, I will say. It's something we're very proud of."

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT SUNDAY'S RACE? WILL YOU BE ABLE TO USE YOUR NOTES FROM LAST YEAR'S SECOND PLACE RUN OR THE SPRING VICTORY TO GET THAT CAR SET-UP AND READY TO RACE?

"We don't have the night to worry about this time. What we do have, just like we had today, is that our qualifying set-up has been really good here the last three times we've been here. And so we've just been able to build on that each time. We were pole, second, and now pole again. And we'll do that same thing with the race set-up. Last time we were here, obviously we had a great race car. And so tomorrow, starting the day, we have something to build on. And hopefully just fine tune. Hopefully we're not way off the pace or off on balance and we don't have as much to work on as we have in the past. That's how you build momentum. That's how you build confidence. You win a race at a track and then tires don't change and nothing really changes. Maybe slight weather changes and competition gets better, but you come back with something that's proven that works and you try to make it better and that's what we're doing. This is not the same car we had here earlier in the season. We feel like this is a better car. We ran this car in Atlanta. We're hoping that between that and the set-up that we had here earlier in the year to start practice with that we can even improve and make ourselves better."

FOR YEARS YOU WERE JUST PRETTY BAD HERE; A 10TH OR 12TH PLACE CAR. AND THEN ALL OF A SUDDEN, IT'S LIKE YOU OWN THE PLACE. DID A SWITCH COME ON OR DID YOU FIND THE RIGHT SET-UP OR WHAT?

"I would hardly say we own the place, but you know I think that we really didn't get enough credit for the first three or four races here. We were the best car at just about every one of those races and we just had crazy weird things happen to us. Those are sometimes things you can't control. But it just started a trend of not good results and they just continued. Then there was a time period where we were just terrible. And when there's a track like that that challenges us this much, it really makes us go to work. And it inspires us to try and find something to get better. But it's a total team effort. If I'm not liking what I feel, we can't just say oh well our teammate's running good so just put their set-up in. It just doesn't work, not always. And so we tried that anyway and it didn't work. So it was really about finding something that worked for us. But you know last year at this time we went to work hard on the 1.5-mile tracks in the Chase. We were out of it and it allowed us to sort of do some testing and we tried some things that we hit on and it really seemed to payoff here. And so we improved our results the time we were here last year, and then we built on that over the off-season and had the results we had here earlier in the season. It's just hard work. This is a tricky track. The straightaways are very flat here compared to how high-banked the corners are. And those transitions really challenge you. Plus there's some bumps and the corners are fast. But they're tight. The walls come out at you very, very quick. So it's not an easy track. Even when we won here earlier in the season, it was not an easy win. There were times when the car was pretty out of control, so we expect a lot of the same of that on Sunday. And we're going to work hard on that tomorrow."

-credit: gm racing

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Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup