JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS -- Qualified 3rd ON HIS RUN: "Ryan (Newman) is always a real threat for the pole. And I think the No. 18 (Kyle Busch), when he went in there might have been a little bit there with the track temp., but you...
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS -- Qualified 3rd
ON HIS RUN:
"Ryan (Newman) is always a real threat for the pole. And I think the No. 18 (Kyle Busch), when he went in there might have been a little bit there with the track temp., but you always know he's going to be strong as well. So to end up third, fantastic. I'm very pleased with that."
COULD YOU REFLECT ON THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THIS RACE AND WHAT IT MEANS TO YOU?
"Well, obviously it means a lot to me winning my first race here. As I was mentioning earlier, when I was in here (media center), the first time I ever came to North Carolina was to go out to Rockingham to the Buck Baker Driving School and while I was here I had to check out (formerly called) Charlotte Motor Speedway, now called Lowe's Motor Speedway and I was just in awe of this place. I'm like wow, how cool would it be to race at that track? And then the first time I ever made laps around here back in a Busch car, I was just blown away with it. It took me years to be in the sport and understand the history of the sport and this track and its significance to the history of NASCAR and its long history as well. You look around this room and see some of those pictures of how much it's changed over the years. This is a very special weekend for many reasons, but it's obviously a very big weekend in motorsports. So the 50th running I think that trophy looks really nice and the history behind it would make it much sweeter of a victory."
DO THE CHALLENGES YOU FACED WITH YOUR BACK, GIVE YOU FURTHER APPRECIATION FOR THE WORK MARK MARTIN PUTS INTO HIS OWN PHYSICAL FITNESS ROUTINE? CONVERSELY, COULD YOU TALK ABOUT THE RISKS THAT DRIVERS RUN WHEN THEY DON'T TAKE CARE OF THEMSELVES?
"It's a great question. Mark is a phenomenon for many reasons. One is he's just an incredibly talented race car driver. The other is that early on or somewhere along the way quite a few years ago, he decided to really start training and taking care of his body. Mentally, a lot of us as drivers feel like we could probably go quite a ways into our elder years and still be able to drive a race car. Mentally we feel like we can do it. But physically is usually what stops you.
"I think in Mark's case because he's in such good physical shape, it's allowing him to be at the level of competition he's at and drive for Hendrick Motorsports and compete for wins at 50 years old. There is no doubt that is going to inspire me. Sometimes you do need that little push to get something started. I've always known about Mark's physical fitness program, but it's never seemed to really catch on for me in the past. But having him as my teammate and the things that he's been working with Rick on and then I give a lot of credit to my wife, Ingrid; she's probably the driving force. She's been trying to get me with a trainer for years. But certainly Mark has played a role in that. I think the thing that Mark has really inspired me with is that I kind of always thought that I don't see myself racing at this level at 40 or 45 and with Mark, that might not be the case because here is a guy who has stepped away from the sport and he keeps coming back. I think it's because he loves what he does and he's so good at it. He's having a hard time stepping away from it. He's achieved everything but winning a championship. He doesn't have to be out here to prove anything. So I don't know. If I'm in good shape, physically, I might have that same thought process."
-credit: gm racing