Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet Monte Carlo - Post Happy Hour comments: Note: Gordon qualified ninth for the MBNA Platinum 400 but will start the race in third because the drivers who qualified in the 1st, 3rd, and 5th positions must now...
Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet Monte Carlo - Post Happy Hour comments:
Note: Gordon qualified ninth for the MBNA Platinum 400 but will start the race in third because the drivers who qualified in the 1st, 3rd, and 5th positions must now start from the rear of the field due to either an engine change or having to go to a back-up car. Those cars are the No. 17 (Matt Kenseth - engine change), the No. 10 (Jerry Nadeau - crashed in practice, goes to a back-up car), and the No. 97 (Kurt Busch - crashed in practice, goes to a back-up car).
On his new starting spot
"I'm kind of shaking my head. You know, it's not very often you qualify ninth and get to start third. I don't wish anything bad on anybody, but we'll take the third place start, that's for sure."
Have you ever been involved in something like this?
"No. With the whole engine thing now (one-engine rule), it changes things a lot. And we're seeing that happen pretty much every week that somebody changes a motor and so somebody moves. It happened in Charlotte last week, but it wasn't in my row so I couldn't take advantage of it. It's weird that three cars in front of me would go to the back.
"I'm ninth, so I'm on the inside row. Any time any car in my row changes a motor or goes to a back-up car, they will go to the back. What happens is that when we're all on pit road, they'll be there in position. But when we start the race, they'll peel off and go to the rear. So then I will physically move up. I'll be behind the No. 28 car (Ricky Rudd), unless they change an engine tonight and I move up to the pole."
On NASCAR's rule of handling it this way
"With the pole-sitter going to the rear, it does change things. But I think the one-engine rule is a pretty good thing. In my mind, they also need to reconsider the pit road pick. The No. 17 (Kenseth) is now starting from the back but he still has his number one pit stall. Maybe they need to change when we make the picks and do it after practice instead of before practice."
How was Happy Hour practice?
"Good. I'm real happy with it. I've got a good feel for the track and the set-up. This is a real tricky place to set-up for because that track usually starts one way and changes throughout the day. You could be perfect right now and be junk when they start the race. But I got the feel I'm looking for and we're real happy."
On going to Pocono next week
"We're coming to some tracks that are really good for us and that we've run real well at. Dover is one of them and Pocono is certainly one of them. We're excited about going there because Jimmie (Johnson, No. 48) went there last week and had a real good test. We got some good information that we hadn't gotten in Pocono in a while. It's just a fun and challenging track for a driver and we like that."
On not scoring a win yet this season
"We have a team that has a lot of talent. We're fourth in points and have led laps and we're running good. It's just that we haven't had some of the good fortune and good luck that we've needed to get to victory lane. But we're certainly not hanging our heads down. We'd like a win. They're hard to come by these days but we'll get one before it's over.
"Look at Mark Martin and his win last weekend in Charlotte. He went some 76 races without a win and to me; he's one of the best racers in this garage. It can happen to anybody anytime. You never know when your next win's going to come. And then, you never know if that'll be your last win. I think that I have too much respect for the competition and how competitive this series is to take that for granted. I think that helps me get through it."