JEFF GORDON , NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - pole winner - 50th career pole & third straight pole "On tracks like this, you wish you could bring the guys in who really made it happen because the driver gets the accolades or the ...
JEFF GORDON , NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - pole winner - 50th career pole & third straight pole
"On tracks like this, you wish you could bring the guys in who really made it happen because the driver gets the accolades or the publicity, but he certainly doesn't do a whole lot to make that happen. They guys really surprised me. I'm just so proud of them. We've been qualifying great, obviously, lately but I didn't expect to come in here and qualify like this.
"We had a lot of trouble getting through inspection this morning so we didn't as much practice and yet we were at the top of the board as soon as we went out. Our practice speeds from last weekend to this weekend are certainly flawless and we're riding a great wave. It was certainly a great effort by those guys and they deserve a lot of credit. Pepsi has been such a big sponsor of ours for so many years and they really enjoy getting involved with this promotion and program where they get a paint out car. With all the Cola wars going on this weekend, this is one chalked up for them. They have been putting a lot of pressure on us. It's one against nine out there. We're going to do what we can but certainly tonight we did the job."
WHAT DOES IT SAY ABOUT YOUR TEAM FOR WINNING THREE POLES IN A ROW AT THREE DIFFERENT TYPES OF RACE TRACKS?
"I think it says a lot. That's what has impressed me the most. If you look at our other poles this year, they're on short tracks. So we've really gotten our act together. We have tremendous power. Our cars are handling well. Right now, these guys are just really on top of their game. At Hendrick Motorsports we're doing a tremendous job of blending people and resources and talent and communication and we're really making the most of every bit of resources we have there and putting it on the race track. That's makes it exciting and makes for a lot of fun for me on race weekends. I'm having a blast right now. The confidence level is sky-high for us. You take away a couple of mishaps (like) the blown motor and the blown right front (tire) and who knows where we could be right now or what statistics we could have added. But we can't go back and do those over. We've just got to look at the future move forward. Right now the future is looking real good."
WILL SATURDAY BE A JEFF GORDON / DALE JR. SHOWDOWN AT DAYTONA?
"You're just forgetting 41 other guys other there. At these plate races, anybody can get it done. In February, we were embarrassed. I'll be honest. I think not only Hendrick Motorsports (was embarrassed) but every other race team out there except for the No. 8 and the No. 15. They were in a league of their own. They could pull out and pass any time they wanted to. They played with us all day long and won the Daytona 500. We don't take those things very kindly. We worked
hard. I think we've caught up. I don't think we're there all the day. Talladega is a much different race track than Daytona. The good thing about here - especially in July - is that it is much more of a handling race track than Talladega. So you've got to be able to run wide open, not just have the power or the speed. Until we get out there and practice tomorrow and until we get out there and race, who really knows? But I would love to have a showdown with Junior and the DEI cars. I think that would be a lot of fun. If we can keep up with them, I feel like we can beat them. But we've got to be able to keep up with them first. All those races they've won, I don't remember them being on the pole. They might have been on the front row, but not on the pole. Obviously it doesn't have anything to do with qualifying. They've got something else when it comes time to go racing."
WITH YOUR RECENT SUCCESS, ARE YOU MOUNTING A HUGE CHARGE GOING INTO RICHMOND?
"You always want to get momentum on your side. I really can't put my finger on why these things have happened. Maybe it's what happened to us at Charlotte. Again, we were embarrassed by our performance and got our act together. We don't want those things to happen - certainly if we're going to be battling for this championship. We can't allow races like that to happen. All I know is we went to Michigan for qualifying and the car just felt great and I was able to drive the wheels off it. We sat on the pole. We go to Sonoma and it was the same thing. I drove it for everything we had. Here, I can't say we drove it hard or anything because you can't as a driver. But the team did a great job today. Are we mounting a charge? Sure. We always want to mount a charge and we hope we can keep it going."
DOES EVERYBODY FOLLOW JUNIOR?
"Well, I can tell you they're not going to follow me. Let's make that clear. We all know that. Junior has gotten to that point where he reminds me a lot of his dad. Half the guys out there don't want to help him because they don't want to see him win because they know he's the guy to beat. But half of them think he's the guy who can take them to the front and get a top five out of it. For me, I want to win and I'll do everything I can to keep the competition behind me. We can all be pretty confident that the No. 15 and the No. 8 will be the guys to beat. I know I'm going to do everything I can to keep them behind me to shuffle them out of the draft or split them up or whatever."