Jeff Gordon Scores Chevrolet Its Fifth Consecutive Win for the Impala SS Chevrolet Impala SS Drivers Sweep Top-Three Finishing Positions at Darlington Raceway Darlington, S.C. - Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Impala SS, won the postponed Dodge ...
Jeff Gordon Scores Chevrolet Its Fifth Consecutive Win for the Impala SS
Chevrolet Impala SS Drivers Sweep Top-Three Finishing Positions at Darlington Raceway
Darlington, S.C. - Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Impala SS, won the postponed Dodge Avenger 500 on Sunday afternoon to score Chevrolet its fifth-consecutive win for the new Chevrolet Impala SS and the 10th win in 11 races for the Bowtie brand. Gordon's victory is his seventh at Darlington Raceway, the track notorious for being too tough to tame.
"That's the way to win races," said Gordon. "This is an awesome race team, the guys in the DuPont Chevrolet Impala. The guys to thank is the Hendrick engine shop.It was a great call by Steve Letarte. What an amazing year we're having. This is so much fun. I'm having a blast.It's unbelievable when you win races."
Gordon led a trio of Chevy drivers to the checkered flag with Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Express Impala SS, crossing the line second and Gordon's Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson finishing third giving Chevrolet a 1-2-3 finish. Ryan Newman and Carl Edwards rounded out the top five while Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Clint Bowyer and Jeff Burton followed. Chevy drivers claimed seven of the top-10 finishing spots.
Gordon's victory pads his lead of the Nextel Cup standings. He now has a 231-point advantage over Johnson. With the 11th Nextel Cup race of the season in the books, Chevrolet has nine drivers ranked within the top 12 in points.
Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Impala SS - Winner
"I noticed that the water temperature went up and it wasn't coming back down. Usually when you come down pit road it goes up a little bit. It went way up and didn't come back down. I thought there's no way we were going to make it. I've never seen gauges that looked like that and (have) an engine make it to the end. That's a testament to Hendrick Motorsports and their engine department."
Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Express Impala SS - Finished second
"We had a good car all day. I felt like we had the dominant car. we gave another one to Hendrick Motorsports. It's a shame we can't get a win for (Joe) Gibbs (Racing). It's a shame. Our car was really fast."
Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Impala SS - Finished third
"That's one of the most difficult races I've been a part of for handling. I think the strategy at the end. nothing we were used to really panned out. I know Jeff had a great car and we regret the fact that we came in and pitted. But with a few laps on tires, you think that's the right thing to do and we certainly did all we could, we just got a little tight on that last set of tires and couldn't make the most of it, unfortunately."
THERE HAD TO BE SOME LOUD MOMENTS AT THE END OF THE RACE WITH FRESH TIRES. "Yeah, it was. There was a lot of different parts in the race where it was loud. The cars were so difficult to drive, which was fun and challenging, but there were a lot of guys that will leave here breathing a deep breath of air just to get out of here (laughs). Just to leave. It was a tough day."
Tony Stewart, No. 20 Home Depot Impala SS - Finished sixth
"Talk about a hard day, we had to pass a lot of cars to get back up to where we ended up. I'm just proud of our guys. They didn't get down, I didn't get down, the spotter didn't get down. We all just kept our heads up and kept digging today. It was probably our best effort all year - definitely the best race I've ever had at Darlington, for sure.
Considering everything that happened, when we got back on the lead lap and ran up front there, the biggest thing was just you've got to get away from those guys but you know you've got to manage your tires at the same time. So it was just run hard enough to stay ahead of them and luckily we didn't have to rely on a lucky dog to get a lap after we drove and got our lap back and were able to come in with everybody else."
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 8 Budweiser Impala SS - Finished eighth
LOOKS LIKE THEY'RE ALREADY CHANGING THE NUMBER ON YOUR CAR OVER THERE: "Yeah, I hit the wall probably 15 times today. It was just slick out there and that car's really wide, a lot wider with the soft wall taking away some race track and this car being wider man. I don't think we're all used to it yet. I saw a lot of guys out there in the same shape."
DID THE EVENTS OF THE LAST FEW DAYS DISAPPEAR OUT THERE? "They disappeared when I got here. My guys said 'We're behind you' and that took it all away. We worked on the car, we drove the car and we had a good time this weekend and I had no pressure, nothing really on my mind other than what we were supposed to be doing. I was surprised, I thought it'd be a little more of a distraction but it wasn't. Fortunately when things go good all your problems are gone but as long we can keep running good, keep focusing. I'm pretty proud of the effort my team gave me today and I try to repay 'em with the same effort."
HAVE YOU CHANGED YOUR MIND ABOUT THE CAR OF TOMORROW? "Well I had a couple decent finishes in this car and you know I really wasn't saying how bad it was. I just said there's some things they could change and I'm sure they'll listen to people. I don't know, I was really never knocking on the car. I just felt like it's obviously not a finished product and hopefully NASCAR is open to that and hoping to improve it. It doesn't drive as good as our cars that we normally drive. It doesn't drive as good as the old cars but it's a new project and we'll keep working at it. It's a handful. It's fun, it's kind of fun. I think it evens the playing field. We ran pretty good today."
WHAT WAS THE SITUATION WITH THE WING: "Tony Jr. tried to explain it to me but I really didn't know what he was talking about. Apparently there's something that they did with the mounting brackets, I don't really know much about it. You'll have to ask Tony Jr. I got his back, I'll pay his fine, whatever he needs me to do. I don't really know what he was trying to accomplish here. We still run alright though with the stock position (laughs)."
DOES THIS GIVE YOU A LOT OF MOMENTUM FOR THE REST OF THE SEASON? "I think we can accomplish everything we want this year if we really try to stay positive. These guys are great guys. I expect them to surprise me on how focused they'll stay."
WOULD IT BE IRONIC IF YOU WON A CHAMPIONSHIP WITH THIS CAR? "I don't know if ironic would be the word. It would be a good feeling to win at DEI and that would make it easier for me probably to move on. They deserve a championship. We've all worked hard, you know what I mean? It's not like they don't deserve it. Yeah, that would be great. That focus and that goal hasn't changed, wavered or anything. That's still what we're going to try to do."
DO YOU HAVE ANY CONCERNS ABOUT THE DOVER TEST GETTING CANCELLED? "No, it's awesome. Yah! I vote we go in Thursday early.just two hours. Give us two hours, three hours Thursday. It's all we need. Give us a baseline. We got plenty of practice the rest of the weekend. We'd be fine. They don't need to stick us down there for two days."
SO YOU'RE GOING TO TAKE NEXT WEEK OFF? "I'd love to. I'm going to try to get a couple of days in there at least. I think there's some other I got to do."
WHAT DID YOU EXPECT THIS WEEKEND FROM YOUR FANS? "I hoped for the best and expected the worst as far as reactions from my fans. They've been really supportive. I was surprised at how supportive my fans are. It's just overwhelming. Those guys are so loyal. I hope to repay for that loyalty. My team surprised me on how behind they were. They took me aside and said 'Look man' and I said 'I'm sorry y'all wasn't at the meeting this morning at DEI to hear what I had to say.' They said 'We're behind you a 100 percent all year.' They're just good guys. They know I'm a good guy and we all get along really good an we enjoy racing together so I was surprised by all that."
WHEN DID YOUR TEAM PULL YOU ASIDE? "As soon as I got here. It's a new car and we hadn't adjusted the belts and I had to get here a little early and we had some time. They were just like 'Don't worry about all that.' I think that everybody is just glad to sort of know and not speculate anymore, at least part of the decision we're going to make for our future. I'm just really, really proud of my team. Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there. It's a good day for me."
Jeff Burton, No. 31 Cingular Wireless Impala SS - Finished 10th "I'm proud of my guys for doing a good pit stop there when it counted. We just kept fighting and ended up with something out of it."
YOU WERE CONCERNED ABOUT THE HEATING AND COOLING OF THE TRACK - DID THAT AFFECT YOUR CAR? "I don't know. We were just out of control all day and I have a hard time understanding where we were, much less where we went. We just never had enough grip; rear grip was always iffy and (it was) just a long day. When you're that far off it's hard to learn anything. I'm not real sure what we learned today."
ARE YOU SURPRISED THAT YOU MANAGED A TOP-10 FINISH? "We had some things going our way but one thing I know about this team is we never quit. When things are going well we dig in and keep going. That's what I'm really proud of about this group. They never quit. We can be running 35th with five to go and think we still have a chance, that's just how we are."
Tony Raines, No. 96 DLP HDTV Impala SS - Finished 39th
ON WHAT HAPPENED: "We got the motor too hot and tried to make it to the end. Couldn't get water in it, it was plugged up with something. We just burned it up."
DID YOU HAVE OVERHEATING PROBLEMS WITH THE CAR OF TOMORROW? "No, I just think we got a bunch of junk in the radiator and didn't know it. It got hot and we never could get it cooled off again. We'll fix it, whatever caused it."
-credit: gm racing