JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: NOTE: Gordon qualified 3rd. as four Chevrolets qualified in the top five. WERE YOU SATISFIED WITH THAT LAP? "Yeah, we were pretty satisfied with that. I was pretty shocked that we held onto...
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
NOTE: Gordon qualified 3rd. as four Chevrolets qualified in the top five.
WERE YOU SATISFIED WITH THAT LAP?
"Yeah, we were pretty satisfied with that. I was pretty shocked that we held onto the top spot as long as we did. We knew that the Childress cars would be a factor and the DEI cars would be a factor. Going into the day, we thought we'd be a little bit better than we were at Talladega. We were fourth at Talladega and we came out of here third, so we're pretty happy."
DID YOU PICK UP FROM WHAT YOU HAD IN THE MORNING?
"I don't think we picked up from where we ended practice, but some guys that had gone faster didn't go as fast. The way I look at it, we were eighth on the chart at the end of practice. We're third on the charts when it really counts now in qualifying, so to me that's again."
THERE WAS A LOT OF TALK AFTER TALLADEGA ABOUT THE YELLOW-LINE RULE. WHAT IS YOUR INTERPRETATION OR VERSION OF THE YELLOW-LINE RULE AS IT IS RIGHT NOW AND HOW IS IT OR SHOULD IT BE ENFORCED?
"That's a very good question, because I was pretty clear on it before Talladega and now I'm pretty confused on it. It sounds like you're with me on that one. Maybe we need to go back and revisit that. The thing I look at at Talladega, the way I interpret it, one of those two cars should have been somehow penalized. Whether it was one car forcing the other car down below the yellow line or the other car went below the yellow line to gain the position. It's obvious the car went below the yellow line; it's then NASCAR's job to determine how and why that happened. There really wasn't much done there. I don't know. I'm still going to kind of approach it the same way. If I get below the yellow line and I feel like I wasn't really forced down there, I'm going to back off and try to get back in behind that car. It's a lot different when you're going for the win in the final couple laps if you're going to push the envelope a little bit more there and put NASCAR in a position to have to make a judgment call."
ARE YOU GETTING CLOSER AND CLOSER TO DEI? DO YOU FEEL LIKE THEY CAN BE BEATEN?
"I don't think qualifying day has much to do with whether we've closed the gap on DEI. It has everything to do with Saturday night race and who wins it. They've been beaten on qualifying day before, but they're still winning the races and that's the one we're all after. I don't know if they're going to be the guys to beat, but they certainly have proven to be the last several races. I've felt like I've had good enough cars to win the last three or four restrictor plate races, but we haven't pulled it off. I haven't seen anything, especially the last couple of races, that they have something that can't be beat. They're just smart, they work together, they do their job and they hit it in all areas that they need to, whether it be making sure that car gets out front after a pit stop. They've won the races."
ARE YOU COMFORTABLE UP FRONT, GIVEN THE TRACK?
"I'm always more comfortable to be up front. I'm pretty happy to be in the first two rows. This is a track where guys can come as fast to the front as they can go from the front to the back. Some pretty big holes open up here at this track. Handling becomes an issue. The Roush cars handle very well, and I think given enough time they'll be a factor in this race before it's over. There's always the chance [of the big crash] happening, and that's why I like being up front that much better. You hope that if it does happen, by qualifying up front you take less of a chance to be in it. There are still no guarantees. It can happen any time."
YOU'VE SAID THAT YOU'RE NOT ALL THAT FOND OF RESTRICTOR PLATE RACING. HAS YOUR OPINION CHANGED WITH THE NEW RULES IN PLACE?
"I like it a lot better without the roof rails and all that stuff. That was just crazy, ridiculous, white-knuckle racing every single lap, every single straightaway. You could wreck on the straightaway just as easily as in the corners. I like this a lot better. Once we get into the races and we start drafting, I think there's a lot more driver involvement, of setting up a driver for a pass. Here at Daytona, it does change things because there's handling involved. There are a few more factors here than at other places. I've always liked restrictor plate drafting and those types of things, but once the cars started really packing up together and we run in these three-wide packs back seven, eight, 10 rows, that's not a lot of fun. You can never break away. I like it when we broke away just a little bit where you as a driver could pick and choose how and when you made a move on a guy. You built momentum and you built passes and it took sometimes 15 or 20 laps to make it happen. I've just kind of learned to accept it the way it is and go out there and drive as hard as I can and do the best I can and keep my fingers crossed that I get through it."
HOW DO YOU LOOK AT A RESTRICTOR-PLATE TRACK?
"I look at a restrictor plate track or Daytona like maybe Dale Jr. or some of the guys looked at Sonoma. We went into Sonoma with confidence, we went in knowing that it's a place we've won at and a place where I'm comfortable. We have good cars. I think the DEI guys come in here looking at it that way. I think Junior and Michael know that this is a track where they can win, they have proven that before and they come in here with a little more confidence. I come in here with a pretty even tone. I've run well here. We ran well here in February. I made a daring move and it didn't work out for me and I fell back to 12th or wherever I finished. You do have Kenseth and the Roush cars toward the back, and we are racing for a championship, but I think it's still pretty early to start really thinking that way. We are approaching each race as just getting all we can get and hope good fortune and luck goes our way and we're smart about how we race. Matt [Kenseth] has made very few mistakes, they've been very consistent and had very few failures. They work hard to get everything that they can and they deserve to be where they are right now. We hope that we can put some pressure on them and take some advantage. Unless something happens early, I think they'll come to the front."