Qualifying for the UAW-GM Quality 500 was postponed due to rain, and will resume at 8 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 11. The following are comments prior to the rain delay: JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: DO YOU STILL HAVE A CHANCE AT...
Qualifying for the UAW-GM Quality 500 was postponed due to rain, and will resume at 8 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 11. The following are comments prior to the rain delay:
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
DO YOU STILL HAVE A CHANCE AT THE CHAMPIONSHIP?) "Mathematically, yes. But obviously we can't have one bit of trouble. We've got to lead laps and win races. It's almost like in some ways, the pressure is on more - but in some ways it's off. It's like you've got nothing to lose. You should just go out there and go for it every weekend and see where we end up. We want to win this championship. It doesn't really matter where we finish if it's someplace other than that (first). But we know that to be there at the end of the races, we're going to have to start winning. We can't have motors failing and parts breaking things like that. We've still got to be dependable, but I think maybe we can go for it a little bit more on some things."
DO YOU HAVE A DIFFERENT MINDSET NOW THAN YOU DID LAST WEEK, FOR INSTANCE?) "I've got the same mindset that I had when I left Dover. It's like we needed a win and we got a win."
ON HOW THE CHAMPIONSHIP IS SHAPING UP) "I think they all shape up differently. This one's certainly shaping up different for me. It's no different than any other championship in a way, where the guy that has the lead and is competitive and doesn't have any problems is the one who's going to win the championship. But so many guys have had problems this year that nobody has really been consistent. That's why the points have been as close as they are."
WILL YOU FOCUS MORE ON HELPING JIMMIE JOHNSON IF YOU KNOW YOU CAN'T WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP?) "If it ever comes to that - I don't think we're there yet. I'm doing everything I can now to help Jimmie. I don't see where it would be any different. We help one another out as much as we possibly can. Other than me running into other people on the track (laughs), I don't know what I could possibly do."
WOULD WINNING A CHAMPIONSHIP AS A CAR OWNER HAVE THE SAME FEELINGS AS IT WOULD FOR A DRIVER?) "It would be very exciting, but it's not the same. As a driver, you're with the members of your team - your guys - every week. It would be very special, but I can't say it would be the same or that it would be quite as exciting as if I was doing it myself."
ARE MANY OF THE STRENGTHS YOU SHOWED AT KANSAS CITY GOING TO SHOW UP AGAIN THIS WEEKEND?) "I hope so. This is the same car we took to Kansas City. I'd like to see that happen."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT RICKY HENDRICK STEPPING OUT OF THE CAR?) "I think it shows a lot of maturity on Ricky's part. If he feels like his injuries are still holding him back a little bit and if he wants to give somebody else a shot at it, then I'm even more impressed with Ricky than I already was. He's a great person and a heck of a little race car driver. If he ever feels like he wants to come back, I'm sure it'll be available to him. I haven't really talked to Ricky a whole lot. I've talked to Rick (Hendrick), but not to Ricky about it. So I don't know all the behind the scenes stuff."
DID RICKY SEEK YOUR ADVICE ON THIS?) "We talked a few weeks ago, but it really was more about him being competitive or not being competitive and what he could do and what my feelings were for next year. I think he was bouncing a lot of thoughts and ideas off a lot of people. I talked about the injuries and that I knew it probably slowed down a lot of momentum with his team. That's very hard to recover. That takes a while."
AND IF YOU WANT TO DO THIS, IT REQUIRES 110% COMMITMENT, RIGHT?) "Absolutely. Everybody out here does. And I think Ricky did, too. Like I said, I don't know everything about it. But just knowing the injuries that he had, I don't know if he every really recovered 100% before he got back in there (the car)."
WITH ALL THE BAD LUCK AND WEIRD THINGS THAT HAVE HAPPENED TO JIMMIE JOHNSON, HAVE YOU EVER SEEN HIM GET FLUSTERED?) "I haven't seen it. That's another one of those things that I didn't necessarily know about before but that I'm certainly impressed with now. He's very level headed and very well focused. He doesn't let things bother him or rattle him.
"When you drive for somebody like Rick (Hendrick) and you've got the resources and people that are just digging for you everyday and they just want you to do out there and drive as hard and fast as you can, you don't have to worry about politics or whether you've got a ride and different things like that. You can just go out there and drive for all it's worth. Jimmie, I think, is just really driven. That's just his personality. That's what has gotten him to this point and that's what's going to take him a lot further."
-team monte carlo=