JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO (finished second) ON THE FORMAT FOR THE RACE AND RUNNING IT AT NIGHT "I think it's exciting. I guess the break at the first 20 laps is maybe nice just to get us back to double-file. It keeps it...
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO (finished second)
ON THE FORMAT FOR THE RACE AND RUNNING IT AT NIGHT "I think it's exciting. I guess the break at the first 20 laps is maybe nice just to get us back to double-file. It keeps it exciting for the fans. With the fuel cell size we have now, we had to have a pit stop, which brought the team aspect of it in there to make a pit stop. Obviously, I enjoyed it. I had a shot at winning the race. To come home second, we're pretty happy with it. Every year they seem to adjust it and change it and we'll just race however they want to race the format."
WHAT KIND OF RACING DO YOU EXPECT NEXT WEEK AFTER WHAT WE SAW TONIGHT? "Well, things do change during the day...But, it's all going to be about fuel mileage, if you ask me. If the cautions don't fall the right way - man, it's going to come down to fuel mileage. That's certainly got me a little worried because at Talladega we did not have the fuel mileage that some of these other guys did. But, I think it's going to be a great race. You're going to see a lot of passing. It's hard to pass the leader, but it's easy to pass everybody else it seems like, so obviously being out front is the place to be.
"I think just the daytime and the handling of the cars is going to be a lot different. Plus, this a shorter race so guys get a little bit racier. I think in a 500-mile race you're going to see guys want to get in line a little bit more - sort of like the second third of that race, guys kind of got in line and waited to get to the end to start making their moves."
TONIGHT IT SEEMED LIKE THE GUY IN SECOND HAD A CHANCE TO PASS THE LEADER WITHOUT HELP...WHAT WAS THE DIFFERENCE AS COMPARED TO YEARS PAST? "When they're two-by-two and you're the leader, you're watching the lanes and you've got to pick a lane. It's kind of a crapshoot. You just kind of go with the one that you think is going to work out. I saw the video and saw what happened and I was looking good. I had Kurt Busch behind me and we were going along there pretty good and Junior got stalled out in that top lane. When he did, Ryan Newman came up there and just drilled him. If you get a guy that can actually get to your bumper and hit you, it sends you so for out there, you get so much more momentum. That's just something you can't guess on. You just don't that that stuff is happening. You can only see so much in the mirror. The spotter can only tell you so much. I knew Junior was out there. But, I thought even if he got beside me, I still thought that between Kurt Busch and myself and what I know about drafting here that I could work that draft and beat him back to the line, but obviously it didn't work out that way."
ON THE NEW AERO PACKAGE "I thought everybody's cars were pretty even out there. They're just cracking down on everybody now that all the templates are pretty close. There is not much we can say. It seems like everybody is being treated pretty fair, which is pretty rough. They've been tough on everybody getting through inspection, which is good, as long as they're the same to everybody and they have been. Once we get out there on the track, I thought the same guys that run good on the restrictor plate tracks ran good. It really starts to come down to horsepower and if you like the draft or know how to use the air better than the other guys. I think that Junior is one of the best out there and he's got one of the best restrictor plate programs and he came out on top.
"Also, the fuel cell size is changing things a lot. Handling is not really an issue anymore, where Daytona used to be a big handling racetrack. My car handled pretty good - of course, I was out front a lot of the way, so I look forward to getting in some different conditions. But, I think that, in the race, if we have to stop every 35 laps, we're never really going to wear the tires out enough to come in and even maybe need to take four or for the car to get out of control to where you need handling."
CAN YOU DO ANYTHING TO IMPROVE YOUR FUEL MILEAGE? "I hope so. A lot of it is just in the carburetor and in the fuel cell itself, just getting as much fuel in there as you possibly can. We were making really good horsepower at Talladega last year and I think that took away from our fuel mileage. I think we're making good power here again. It's kind of a toss-up of horsepower versus fuel mileage, but last year - Junior at Talladega - he had fuel mileage, too, so obviously they've got it figured out and there is no reason that we can't also."
ON WHAT IT TAKES TO PASS THE LEADER "You can have five cars behind you and if you don't know how to work that line of cars, you're still not going to get past the leader. It certainly not like it used to be.
"I don't mind really being in second place if I've got cars pushing me. But, if it's just me and the leader, or if I'm the leader and (it's) the second place guy, there's not a chance of a pass - no way. I don't even think three cars can make it happen. I think it takes at least four or five or more to really be able to get enough momentum to pass that leader. Then, you've got to hope that the guy doesn't want to wreck by going down to the yellow line. Even if you get the momentum, if he blocks you enough it can get pretty hairy out there to even get up beside him."