Daytona II: Jeff Gordon - pole winner interview

SERIES POINT LEADER JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT/PEPSI MONTE CARLO SS, WILL START ON THE POLE FOR THE PEPSI 400. OBVIOUSLY, EVEN THOUGH YOU ARE ON THE OTHER END OF THIS, IT STINKS FOR GUYS LIKE BORIS SAID, WHO MIGHT HAVE WON THE POLE IF NOT FOR ...

SERIES POINT LEADER JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT/PEPSI MONTE CARLO SS, WILL START ON THE POLE FOR THE PEPSI 400.

OBVIOUSLY, EVEN THOUGH YOU ARE ON THE OTHER END OF THIS, IT STINKS FOR GUYS LIKE BORIS SAID, WHO MIGHT HAVE WON THE POLE IF NOT FOR RAIN

"Yeah, I know. I definitely don't feel comfortable being in here right now. As much as we needed rain for as bad as we qualified, it's really upsetting for those guys who were outside of the top 35, especially guys like Boris who put up such a great effort. It was pretty exciting to see him running as good as he did here last year. So, I know they are disappointed. It's unfortunate that you can't control Mother Nature and the rules are the rules. It's hard to be too overjoyed about this pole because I do feel for those guys. But certainly from where we're sitting, we trimmed the car out to get it to race as good as we can and knew we took a lot of the speed out of it. And the only thing we were lacking is a good starting position. This certainly turns all that around."

AS LITTLE AS QUALIFYING ACTUALLY MEANS ONCE THESE PLATE RACES START, DOES THE 30TH FASTEST GUY STARTING ON THE POLE REALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE AS TO HOW THE RACE WILL START OUT AND SHAKE OUT?

"I've got to admit I was a little concerned because this track in July is slick. You've been hearing all of us talk about it. We always talk about it when we come down here in July and how hot the track is and we're slipping and sliding around. Because of the way the points system is right now and these guys having to put their cars more on qualifying trim to get that lap to get them into the race, their cars are pretty ill-handling when they drop the green. And have that many guys up there with cars in that kind of qualifying trim, certainly it concerned me because my car wasn't driving great yesterday and I was in full race conditions. So I can't imagine what their cars were going to be like when they dropped the green. So I think that because of handling being such an issue, I do think track position is more important here in July than in February; and certainly more so than Talladega."

SO YOU ARE NOT GOING TO BE A SLOW CAR UP FRONT?

"No, because once they drop the green flag in the race, we're way good. The difference is that because the conditions are so slick, in order to keep the car going wide open after you get the fourth or fifth lap on the tires, you've got to put downforce in the car, which is drag. You've got to put a setup in the car that puts a little bit more angle in the body, a little more drag. It just scrubs more speed through the corners. But you hope that it sticks. I don't know how much you watched practice yesterday, but a lot of guys had their hands full. It was really slick. When you trim that car out and take downforce out of it to go fast like a lot of the guys did up there, then they've really got their hands full when they drop the green. So I'm more concerned with the cars that run fast today being up front. It's no coincidence that the top teams that are inside of the top 35 in points are all 15th, 20th, 25th; there is a reason for that because they all want a car that's going to handle good."

CERTAINLY WITH THE RAIN YOU AVOIDED THE SITUATION WITH THOSE GUYS UP IN THE FRONT, AND WITH THIS BEING A PLATE RACE, DOES NASCAR NEED TO LOOK AT A DIFFERENT PROCEDURE FOR THESE PLATE RACES SO YOU DON'T HAVE THIS HAPPEN?

"It's a unique situation that I don't know how you work around. Maybe when we get the new car it'll fix a lot of that stuff, so we're kind of talking about ancient history here. But with the newer car, basically the drag and the downforce and all that is what it is. These cars, we change and manipulate the bodies so much to get the drag out of it and to keep the speed in it for this bigger track because of the restrictor plates. And with the new car, you're not going to be able to do any of that. The car is no different than what it is at Martinsville or Bristol, basically. So I think that it's a shame for a lot of those guys because so many guys are focused on the handling that don't have to worry about qualifying. And it's an impound race. That's the whole deal, which I'm still not really sure why they made the restrictor plate races impound races, or at least this one and the Talladega races. Because of it being impound, we don't focus on qualifying at all. We just focus o n the race because we know that all we can do it pull the tape off and make a few little adjustments and we've got to go race. I think that only makes it that much stranger that you've got the guys outside the top 35; so many of them up there at the top of the list."

IN THE BIG SCHEME OF THINGS, THE TRACK AT THE END OF QUALIFYING THAN IT IS AT THE BEGINNING, WOULD IT HURT THE INTEGRITY OF THE SPORT TO COME BACK TOMORROW MORNING TO LET THE OTHER 14 DRIVERS FINISH?

"Those are all good questions and I'm unfortunately not the guy that can answer them. I know that from our side of things, one of the things I was recognizing that they were probably going to call it was that they had like 14 or 15 cars still left to go. We all know it takes two to three minutes a car to run here. Certainly doing it tonight is not an option. Tomorrow, I don't know what they have scheduled or planned. There are a lot of factors that play out in their decision- making. I would have thought if they felt like there was a chance to do it that they would have done it. I think we've seen less and less these days. Back when we had second round qualifying and had it scheduled, then we would come back and re-qualify. These days, you rarely ever see them come back the next day. And I think part of that is because they have to keep those rules consistent from track to track. You could go to some tracks where it might be nice and cool and shaded the next day and all those cars out-qualify all the other cars that went the day before and now they start knocking other people out that were in the day before. So, I'm just throwing out some scenarios that maybe they are considering."

IF IT RAINS AGAIN TOMORROW, WHAT AFFECT WILL THAT HAVE?

"Well, I'd probably be more concerned if I was in the Busch race than the Cup race right now. I would imagine we're going to get some Busch racing in tonight and get some rubber back down on the track. But it's always an issue down here in July that it's going to rain at any time and wash the rubber off the track. The one thing that this track, because it's hot and slick and it's abrasive, it rubbers up really quick. Between NASCAR and Goodyear, what they've been doing recently is on any green race track, they throw a mandatory caution and we come in and take a look at them and if that's the case I would imagine they will do that tomorrow. So it's not a big concern with that."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon