JEFF GORDON - Qualified 3rd "It's been a rough couple of weeks for Robbie's (Loomis, crew chief) mom. Every week he's been flying down to Florida to be with her. She took a turn for the worse this week and so he wanted to be there which ...
JEFF GORDON - Qualified 3rd
"It's been a rough couple of weeks for Robbie's (Loomis, crew chief) mom. Every week he's been flying down to Florida to be with her. She took a turn for the worse this week and so he wanted to be there which we totally understood. Our prayers are going out to her. I talked to Robbie a little bit earlier today and he said she was doing a little bit better. I told him what we were fighting during practice but that I thought we'd be able to put a pretty good lap out there.
"It's amazing how much this track picks up and how much grip it has when the sun goes down and you go out to qualify. I wasn't expecting it, that's for sure. Earlier in the day, I was thinking I'd be happy if I'm in the top 10 and really happy if I'm in the top five. And then when you get that close to the pole, you think man, if we'd have just done this, this, and this, we'd have been on there. Of course that was before Jimmie (Johnson) put a really good lap up."
IS THERE ANY WAY TO COMPARE A QUALIFYING RUN ON A TRACK TO RACING ABOUT THE SAME TIME?
"No because we have so much nose weight in the car and different springs and shocks. Everything is so different that about all you can compare is the grip level. Even though this race is run at night, it starts during the day. The track will definitely change quite a bit from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Those are the conditions that make this such a challenging race - not to mention 600 miles. You have to be pretty adjustable and know not only what changes to make but when to make them."
REGARDING TO THE FAIRNESS OF SOME DRIVERS QUALFIYING WHEN LATE IN THE DAY COMPARED TO EARLIER IN THE EVENING
"I think had Ryan Newman gone out last - or if I had - who know what would it have been like? It's just the luck of the draw. It's how our sport works. Every week it doesn't matter whether we qualify during the day or we go from day to night. It's whatever number you draw is a luck factor that goes into racing. Sometimes you draw the right one and sometimes you don't. I wish there was a way to make it a little bit more fair and start a little later in the day. I was surprised I hung on as long as I did in there. I thought the conditions were going to change a lot more and that the track was going to get a lot faster for a lot of guys. It seemed like Jimmie (Johnson) took full advantage of having a good car and having a late draw."
ON JIMMIE JOHNSON'S RUN OF SUCCESS AT LOWE'S MOTOR SPEEDWAY
"He's got a great teacher, I'll tell you (laughs). I don't know. At Hendrick Motorsports we pride ourselves in power and putting every effort out. I've had great success here. The No. 48 team is one of the factors of benefits from the No. 24 shop. Anything good that we have they can benefit from it and take it from there. And they certainly have. They've stepped our level up at some tracks and we've stepped their level up at some tracks. Jimmie knows how to get around this track very well. He's very aggressive and Chad (Knaus) is aggressive on the set-up. Those two combinations can make for a fast race car at a place like this."
BECAUSE OF THE CONDITIONS, DOES PRACTICE MEAN ANYTHING ON SATURDAY MORNING?
"The only disappointing thing I've seen from last week and this week is that the practices are absolutely ridiculous. Maybe a morning practice might not be too bad if it's not too hot. But I don't get it. We race at night for the All-Star event but we practice during the day. We're racing late in the day on Sunday and we're practicing in the morning on Saturday. I definitely am in favor of trying to have practice sessions - especially for the races - at a much closer time to when we're going to race."