JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVY MONTE CARLO SS HOW'S YOUR CAR? It's feeling good. We're excited to have this Hot Hues car here this weekend. It's a hot looking car and it feels great. WHAT MAKES THE HENDRICK CARS RUN SO GOOD AT CALIFORNIA ...
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVY MONTE CARLO SS
HOW'S YOUR CAR? It's feeling good. We're excited to have this Hot Hues car here this weekend. It's a hot looking car and it feels great.
WHAT MAKES THE HENDRICK CARS RUN SO GOOD AT CALIFORNIA SPEEDWAY? Anytime you come to a track like Michigan or California Speedway or a two-mile oval unrestricted, you've got to have the full package. You've got to have horsepower; you've got to have the car get through the corners and also down the straightaways aerodynamically. This as always been a fun track for me and I've enjoyed it. But you can't go fast without good equipment.
IS THAT ALL NEW BLACK COLOR SCHEME GOING TO TURN INTO A REAL BAD BOY ON SUNDAY? "We're excited. We've got some cool colors and flames on that thing and I think the car turned out fantastic. We're just hoping to get things rolling for us. We had a great run at Daytona going last week but it just didn't work out for us. And we've got to get things going as quick as we can.
DON'T YOU THINK IT WAS A CRAZY START TO THE SEASON WITH ALL THAT HAPPENED AT DAYTONA LAST WEEK? Man, it's unpredictable how things are going to start out. They usually get wilder and crazier every year. The competition gets greater and you never know what to expect. But I think it's good to have some interesting storylines out there that are brewing that were created in Daytona and we'll just see where it takes us.
DO YOU THINK THE PENALTY NASCAR HANDED THE NO. 48 TEAM LAST WEEK WAS FAIR? I think a four-week suspension and $25,000 fine seems pretty fair to me. I think if that had happened after the Daytona 500 or even after the 150's then the penalties may have been different. But it happened after qualifying at the beginning of the season and the fact that Jimmie's crew chief is sitting at home for the next four weeks -- three weeks from now -- is pretty harsh.
I think that anybody that spoke, it seems to me like they're speaking out of jealousy and you've got to look at the fact that they took off what they had, their crew chief was gone and they started at the back of the 150's and worked their way up to the front and with a new crew chief and with all the pressure and stress they had to go through from that situation and still went out there and performed the way they did and won the Daytona 500. I wish some people would start giving them some credit. Yeah, they made a mistake and they should pay a penalty and they are. But that should be done with and let's look at the positive side of how well that team reacted under that situation.
REGARDING STRATEGY, HOW DIFFERENT IS CALFORNIA SPEEDWAY COMPARED TO DAYTONA? It's so much different. You don't have to have drafting partners. This place is all about getting your car to go as fast as you possibly can. The driver plays a bigger role. The team plays a communication role throughout the weekend. Obviously you've got to show up with your best stuff. This is the type of racing you're going to see the majority of the time throughout the year.
TONY STEWART WAS CRITICAL OF KYLE BUSCH LAST WEEK. WHAT IS YOUR OPINION ON THAT? I think Kyle is still new to the restrictor plate racing and he's a little bit aggressive. I ran with him in the 150's and think he did a fantastic job. Yeah, sometimes he needs a little bit more patience. I think that with NASCAR's implementing of the no bumping and aggressive driving, it's only going to help him to be more patient and to come into his own. But as young as he is, for him to be out there doing what he's doing, I'm pretty impressed.
YOU SEEMED A LITTLE NERVOUS TO HAVE HIM BEHIND YOU IN THE 150'S Oh yeah I was afraid he was going to pass me. We had the Roush guys coming up behind us and I just wanted to hold onto the lead. And he had made some comments about staying with me. As young and aggressive as he is, I was more concerned that he wasn't going to be able to hold up to his word and try to get a run on me and make a pass. I've had issues with a lot of young rookie guys along the way. They do the same thing. Sometimes they don't use the best judgment. But I think Kyle has already matured from last year. Yeah, there are times when he's a little bit too aggressive.
Hopefully he'll learn from that. But I wasn't a part of any of that. I had nothing but good experiences with him at Daytona.
TONY STEWART SAID KYLE BUSCH WAS OUT OF CONTROL Tony was out of control too. So I don't think he can say a whole lot. I saw Tony completely sideways on more than one occasion. The stuff that happened with him and (Matt) Kenseth -- for a veteran driver like Tony, that kind of stuff shouldn't be happening. I think he's the last one to be talking about anybody else.
DID STEWART AND KENSETH GET TOGETHER AND TALK ABOUT THAT? IT LOOKED PRETTY BLATANT It looked pretty blatant to me. It looked so blatant that it had to be an accident. Usually with any move like that, you're just going to spin yourself out.
DID WHAT HAPPENED TO THE NO. 48 TEAM BECOME A DISTRACTION FOR YOU AND THE NO. 24 TEAM? I think we were all dealing with it in some way. It filtered through the organization -- it was a bit of a distraction -- especially for myself being involved with the No. 48 team. I hated to see that happen. I was with Jimmie a lot during that week and he was going through a lot. At Daytona, you have to do a lot of media things leading up to the 500 and he was going through a lot. He knew he had to go out there and face it because they got themselves in that situation. But I think for all that team went through, to come out of it with a Daytona 500 victory, I think those guys deserve a whole lot of credit. I think that was spectacular. They're paying the price. They don't have Chad Knaus here this weekend or the next couple of weekends. They're having to deal with a new crew chief and the fines and the distractions and the abuse within the garage and the media and everything else. Those are huge distractions. I'm really proud of what they accomplished. Anybody who doesn't notice that, it's unfortunate.
ON TEAMING WITH CHIP FOOSE FOR SPECIAL CALIFORNIA SPEEDWAY PAINT SCHEME "Dupont and their Hot Hues brand put together the arrangement to have Chip Foose design and paint the car for California Speedway.
"Everybody in the street rod, hot rod industry knows this guy is a famous designer and is amazing with what he can do on a car. It is a privilege for us to able to come and design a car and then put it in the paint booth and have him actually come in there and oversee the job. He wanted to be very hands on so that is very cool for us. He has been great to work with and has delivered a spectacular looking car.
"California is the hot bed of street rods and cars with cool paint schemes. We just wish we could change -up the wheels a little bit and lower it down a little bit (laughs).
CHIP FOOSE - "We wanted to do that on the show car but they wanted it to look like the race car. This is the first NASCAR car I have done. I have done many race cars in the past but this is the first time in this venue. This is a huge feather in our cap to be able to design a car for Jeff and be associated with Dupont on this project.
"If we can get this car to victory lane, it would really top off the weekend for us and actually the whole year for us so far."
JEFF GORDON - "That car is too good to be any where else but victory lane. That thing looks fast, it is running fast so we have to make sure we put that car in victory lane. It deserves it.
ON SATURDAY HAPPY HOUR PRACTICE: "We were pretty good in final practice. We were just throwing a bunch of stuff at it. Even though our times weren't high on the chart, we weren't focused on new tires a whole lot. Just old tires and long tire runs. I felt like we were pretty good on the long runs."
JJ YELEY, NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES MONTE CARLO SS
ON QUALIFYING FOURTH FOR SUNDAY'S RACE: "It caught me a little bit by surprise. It helped us a little bit going out later in the order because the track temps dropped a bit. Steve Addington and the guys did a great job. We made one qualifying run on stickers and we made another one on scuffs and decided to save our extra set of tires for today's practice knowing that was more important to make sure we had a good car for the race. That thing handled like a dream, it drove very easy which made my job a lot easier too. It would have been great to have gotten the pole. I would love to give those guys a pole so we could be in the Shootout next year. But this is only the second race of the season so we have a lot of opportunities to get that done.
ON HAPPY HOUR PRACTICE: "I think we have a pretty good race car. We tried a lot of different things, some worked some didn't. We were able to run real consistent. We didn't have a real fast lap on the front side but spent a lot of time in traffic. We definitely found a good place to start the race and we found a couple of things that helped. And were able to eliminate some things that didn't work. The car is very comfortable right now. I know this is a very long race tomorrow, but this is probably the most comfortable I have been in a Cup car in the short amount of time I have been driving one.
ON RACING CALIFORNIA SPEEDWAY "Turns One and Two are distinctively different that Turns Three and Four the way the banking is. The race track has a lot of character. It has gotten a lot of bumps the last couple of years since I have been running here. If your car is handling well and can keep it on the bottom, it is fun to drive. If you move up to the second or third groove, it gets a little rough and the cars slide around quite a bit. If definitely does have that short track feel. That is not always the most comfortable feel when you are in a car, but it definitely does have it."
MIKE FORD, CREW CHIEF NO. 11 FEDEX KINKOS MONTE CARLO SS ON NOT GOING OUT IN FINAL PRACTICE: "We made minimal changes in Saturday's first practice and determined that the car is really good. Since this track tends to be hard on engines, and I have been burned in final practice before, we were happy enough with what we have to not risk anything. We have a long 500 mile race tomorrow and have a good car so we want to keep it that way and give Denny a shot at having a really strong run."
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CINGULAR WIRELESS MONTE CARLO SS
ON HAVING A CAR THAT QUALIFIED WELL AND RAN WELL IN RACE TRIM: "I am real happy with it. It has driven well the whole time we have been here. This car we have run quite a bit in testing this winter and so far, it is my favorite car. It just responds well and has good speed. I love the way it drives; it drives nice. The engines are better, it goes down the straightaways better and goes through the corner better and all of that is good stuff.
ON DRIVING CALIFORNIA SPEEDWAY: "The difference between turns two and four is what makes this track so tough. Two is a real slick corner, it is hard to get rear grip. Four is a lot like Michigan Turn four. Two is kind of rough in the middle so as soon as you want to be in the gas, you are spinning the rear tires. It is kind of like two totally different race tracks. Getting your car so it drives good at both ends is really the hard part.
SHORT OF WINNING, IS LEAVING HERE WITH A GOOD POINTS FINISH ACCEPTABLE? "Obviously after Daytona, we need to gather some points but we have come here to win. As we should. After testing this winter, we have high goals and high aspirations. We know it isn't going to be easy and I am not saying we are going to win but I believe we have equipment that puts us in position to truly set a goal to win. It is a long race, the racing is hard and this series is so competitive, it is unbelievable. But our goal is to have compete at a high level and put ourselves in a position to win."