ROBBY GORDON , NO. 31 CINGULAR WIRELESS CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO Note: Gordon will to "The Double" on Sunday. He'll start 18th in the Sunday's 88th running of the Indianapolis 500 in the No. 70 Meijer/Coca-Cola Dallara-Chevrolet, and return to...
ROBBY GORDON , NO. 31 CINGULAR WIRELESS CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO
Note: Gordon will to "The Double" on Sunday. He'll start 18th in the Sunday's 88th running of the Indianapolis 500 in the No. 70 Meijer/Coca-Cola Dallara-Chevrolet, and return to Lowe's Motor Speedway for the Coca-Cola 600 where he starts 20th.
"We start our double-duty tour tonight at my shop here in Charlotte. We'll have a couple of hundred people over there for a BBQ and meet and greet. Tonight I fly into Indianapolis at 7:30 on a Citation jet. We'll get over there and have a meet and greet for Meijer and Coca-Cola there as well. After I'm finished with all the media there, we'll have a meeting with the Thomas Knapp (head engineer) and the guys on the Indy car team around 9:30 tonight and talk about the Indy car for tomorrow morning. Chris Andrews is putting together a sheet for me to think about on the Cup car when I come back on the airplane.
"I think we're good. Everything as far as the timelines go, is all set up. We haven't missed a NASCAR practice all month or been late for any driver's meetings. Hopefully we won't be late for the driver's meeting here on Sunday for the Coca-Cola 600. If we're not, we'll start 20th and race our way to the front."
BEFORE YOU STARTED DOING THE DOUBLE, DID YOU THINK OF THE COCA-COLA 600 AS A LONG TIME TO BE IN A RACE CAR? "It is a long time to be in a race car. I do it because still like racing at Indianapolis and we're still competitive there. If the day comes when we're not competitive at Indianapolis, then I'd probably not think about it. But every year when we go there we have a shot at winning. I didn't qualify where I'd like. It's our worst qualifying in a while there. But qualifying is just qualifying. Racing is completely different. We've got a good race car. I think our car is good behind other cars in the draft.
"And, 1100 miles is just 100 miles short of the Baja 1000 and I do that one by myself. It's a lot less driving time in both of these races than I drive when I drive that race by myself.
"It takes 17 hours non-stop and I never get out of my Chevy truck. Here, I've got some breaks. I'm fortunate enough to get an IV halfway through. There are some benefits to having a 2.5 or 3-hour break in between the races."
PHYSICALLY, DID YOU EVER FEEL LIKE YOU HIT A WALL DURING LAST YEAR'S RACE? "No, not last year. Last year, the only snag we hit was coming down pit lane in 9th - never thinking they'd call the race with 130-something laps to go. We pitted and ended up finishing 17th. That was 8 positions in points and I don't know what that would have been worth in the final outcome of the standings. I was disappointed that they called the race because we were running good and I felt good. I think we'll be good on Sunday. I think I'm physically fit. As far as scheduling, we're organized and prepared. I've just got my fingers crossed that we have a good race in both series."
IN THE FUTURE, HOW WOULD IT AFFECT YOU IF THEY STARTED THE INDY 500 ONE HOUR LATER? "It would mess it up. It is what it is. I think that would be a mistake on the IRL's side because then Tony Stewart or myself would never be able to come over and compete. We have discussed it with them. It would also get them better TV ratings. That's the issue. But if they had drivers like Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Stewart there, their ratings would probably go up as well (smile)."
ON PREPARING FOR THE INDY 500 "There is nothing more we can put toward that program. We've done everything we can possibly do as a race team to get the tools necessary to hopefully win the race. I think Honda came up and caught us all out just a little bit. But Chevrolet and Toyota are neck and neck right there together. The race isn't over. We've got a good race team. We've practiced our pit stops. We've practiced our fuel mileage.
"We've practiced fueling the car. We've got some strategy built into our program that hopefully will put us in a position to be in a position to win the race at the end of the day."
ARE YOU FOLLOWING ANY SPECIAL DIET TOMORROW? "Carbohydrates. Carbs are things that will help my muscles last a long time. I will take an IV in between (races). I'll eat bananas in the morning for non-cramping and stuff like that. But I feel pretty good physically and mentally about going into both races. I'm pretty calm. We're organized. And hopefully we'll make some smart decisions because that will make the difference between winning and losing both the Indy 500 or the Coca-Cola 600."
DO YOU EVER FEEL YOU ARE AT A DISADVANTAGE WHEN YOU COME BACK LATE IN THE DAY TO RACE AT CHARLOTTE? "I don't know if it was last year or the year before, but the only disadvantage we had is starting last. Before the first pit stop, I was running fifth. So we started dead last and moved all the way to fifth. So that's not much of a disadvantage. There are no sessions that I'm missing here. I will miss most of the hoopla and pre-race ceremonies and stuff like that. But as far as driving, we don't miss much. We rolled out Thursday in the first practice session (at Charlotte) and we were sixth quick after jumping straight from the Indy car and not doing a lap in the Cup car and doing a qualifying simulation run. We fell back to 20th in qualifying but the first time back in the car we were inside the Top 10 on the very first lap. So I feel good about the ability to switch back and forth between the two cars and get up to speed very quickly."
WILL YOU FEEL LIKE YOU'RE ON AN EMOTIONAL ROLLER COASTER BY GETTING IN AND OUT OF CARS AND PLANES? "No, it would surprise you how smooth everything is going to work and what helicopter I'm jumping on and everything.
"There are people behind the scenes that are taking care of everything for me so that I can pretty much go in the direction they point me. It's not a distracting thing for me at all."
ARE YOU WORRIED ABOUT THE THREAT OF RAIN TOMORROW? "I don't care if it rains or not. If it rains and I don't get to race the Indy 500, I'll be disappointed. But for me, it's not a macho thing to be able to do both races on the same day. It's all about the opportunity to compete in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600. If it starts raining, then let it rain all day. We'll come back and race the Coca-Cola 600 and go back and race at Indy on Monday. It's not going to hurt my feelings if I can't race both races on the same day. That isn't the plan and was never the plan. It's more about the performance in both races. And if they were split up, I'd probably be able to give a better performance in both races."
TONY FURR , CREW CHIEF, NO. 0 NETZERO CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
Note: Ward Burton missed Happy Hour today to attend his daughter's graduation in Virginia. Jason Leffler drover the car in Happy Hour, but blew a motor early during the first session.
"We had a little engine problem on the third lap of the first practice lap. We were just shaking it down to make sure there were no leaks or vibrations. We had an oil pump problem which seized up and cost us a motor. We put another motor on it and Jason went out and everything seems to be fine now. He ran about six laps and we're pretty happy with the car. We did a lot of race runs before we qualified the other day knowing that Ward wasn't going to be here. We ran 40-something laps then and had the car pretty dialed in. Jason said it felt pretty good. But this morning, we had thought about not even practicing, but we thought we'd just go out and make sure there was no vibration. We put a new transmission and a new gear and a new driveshaft. I guess it's a good thing we did. We would have beat all the traffic home and that's not good."