Indianapolis Jeff Gordon press conference

Brickyard 400 Champion Press Conference Jeff Gordon, Robbie Loomis, Rick Hendrick RON GREEN: As we wait for Jeff, we'll go ahead and get some opening comments from Robbie and Rick. Rick, let's start with you Jeff's third Brickyard 400 win. Give...

Brickyard 400 Champion Press Conference
Jeff Gordon, Robbie Loomis, Rick Hendrick

RON GREEN: As we wait for Jeff, we'll go ahead and get some opening comments from Robbie and Rick. Rick, let's start with you Jeff's third Brickyard 400 win. Give us some comments, please.

RICK HENDRICK: You know, it's just as special as the first one, I mean, you know, every time I walk in this place. I told the guys outside today, I've seen people kiss those bricks all my life, you know, and never dreamed I'd get to come to the race, let alone have a car in the race and then ever win a race here. So it's real special. I missed the one in '99. I was sick, and it was neat to be here today and watch the team work like they did and things unveil like they did because we sure weren't looking like we were going to have too good a day there early on.

GREEN: Robbie, after qualifying yesterday, a loot of people didn't pick you guys as the favorite. But you came back and you did it. Just your comments.

ROBBIE LOOMIS: Just total effort. You know, Brian Whitesell, he's been through a lot of things, you know, with this team. And, you know, he deserves a lot, a lot of the credit because he's been through the championships. He's won three with this team. He's really the rock or the stable one. You know, we qualified bad, and I was like, 'Oh, man, I can't believe this.' And then we came in. You know, we put our heads together. We had a practice, and about the last half hour of practice, Jeff said, 'We're starting to get this thing.' He said, 'We're starting to come around.' And then this morning, Brian Whitesell and I came in, and when we sat down and talked about the car, we were 100 percent on the same page with the stuff that we thought the car needed so we'd have a lot of adjustment built into it. After about 10 laps in that race, we were looking for razor blades because it didn't look too good. But I tell you, you know, we just kept working on it all day long, and Jeff's feedback, you know, Jeff is better than a computer with telling you what the car needs and how you need it. So if you can take it in and respond to it, then he'll keep pointing you in the right direction, and he got it back in Victory Lane then.

GREEN: The last yellow, what were your comments or words to Jeff before you went green, either of you?

HENDRICK: I talked early on in the race when we were struggling and the car was -- you know, it was kind of loose and it was tight and, you know, Rudd had had a problem. And I told Jeff, you know, a lot of guys in front of him were tore up, and we were going to have a good day. And, you know, I knew -- well, I didn't -- two tires at Indianapolis, I'd bet the farm on it, but I just was hoping the thing wasn't going to break. That was what was going through my mind at the end.

GREEN: Well, joining us now in the WorldComplex press conference room is the winner of the 2001 Brickyard 400, Jeff Gordon. Jeff, we already have comments from Robbie and Rick. Your initial comments on winning your third Brickyard 400.

JEFF GORDON: It's still sinking in. I'm still in shock. You know, we started the race with a lot of doubt in my mind. That's for sure. It was amazing back there, you know, where we were at, just how much air was moving around, and the car was buffeting, and I couldn't get the thing to do anything I wanted it to do. And I thought we were in serious trouble at that point. We made some adjustments, made the car better, but still was not a threat, I didn't even think for a top 10 at the time. But, you know, we kept our chins up. We worked hard on it, and there was one time that I said to Robbie, I said, "You know, we keep making these adjustments, but I think we need to just get out there in clean air." And then about that time, the caution, you know, fell just after we came in the pit. And that's when the race really changed for us. That's when we became a Top Five car and really what put us into a position to make that two-tire stop which was a great, great call, and, you know, win the race.

GREEN: We'll start questions with Bruce.

Jeff, when you won here in '94, I asked you if you knew who Ray Harroun was. Now that you're a three-time winner, how much do you know about Louis Meyer?

GORDON: Well, you knew I knew Ray Harroun, but Mr. Meyer I'm not familiar with. But I would imagine he won three races here. That's great. I tell you it's -- it's just a great feeling to win here at Indianapolis. I love this place. It's a dream come true for me to compete here, and I thought it would be in an open-wheel car, but there's nothing sweeter to me than doing it in a stock car.

Hey, Jeff, what was that sorry excuse for a burnout you tried there?

GORDON: That was sad, wasn't it? Oh, I'm embarrassed. Them young guys like Kevin Harvick can do this. Us old guys, we just can't do that anymore. So I don't know what happened. That thing wouldn't even spin the tires, but I got a little bit of rubber down on those bricks. I figured that was probably the first time anybody had ever done that, but that it was a pretty sad excuse for a burnout.

Jeff, going into a race of this consequence, do you sort of plot a route, a plan, or do you just get in and race the other guys?

GORDON: I wish you could make plans and do those types of things. I mean yeah, we try to, you know, sit down and talk about, you know, planning of what kind of adjustments we can make to the car and if cautions fall at certain times if we can, you know, maybe do two-tire stops or whatever. But once they drop the green flag, that's all out the window. You really have no idea what's going to happen, especially when they dropped the green today and we were going backward instead of forward, that certainly had our attention. And we knew right then the track position wasn't quite as important at that time. We need to first get the car handling a little bit better. Then once we got the car a little bit better, then we started, you know, thinking about track position. And there was times when Robbie was needing to calm me down because I was getting fired up. And then there was times when I was trying to, you know -- I knew the way I was coming across on the radio that, you know, he was thinking major, major adjustments, you know. And it finally got to the point where I was like, you know, I think that the car's not as bad as we think. Let's not waste too much time on a pit stop trying to make it better. Let's now start to try to get some track position. And once we got in clean air, that car actually drove pretty good.

It's generally agreed this place is hard to pass. Yet, there were point 19 lead changes. Did something happen?

GORDON: Well, I think it is very difficult to pass here, but if you are the lead car, you're getting all that air on your nose of the car. And if the car can get up behind you, it can really get you loose here. And so I can see how there can be lead changes that can happen, but you didn't see much passing going on back behind there, I bet.

Jeff, on a late restart there when Marlin was in first place and you were in second there, you guys took off, and you went to the outside, and he blocked you, and you went to the inside, and he blocked you. What was going through your mind at that point?

GORDON: Well, it was pretty interesting because we had been pretty good on restarts. So, you know, I thought I'd give it a try there. You know, we had the right gear and good horsepower for those restarts, and the motor was running real clean on the restarts. But I knew that with the two tires that I had and he was pretty good earlier in clean air, that I needed to either get by him on the first lap or the first couple of corners. And I thought, well, I'll try something here, you know, on this restart. And he was kind of playing with me, and I was kind of playing with him. And I hung back, and he slowed way down. And when I got up on him, typically what happens is you kind of come up on him before you ever take the green and gun the gas. They'll kind of slow down and wait for you to tap them. As soon as they feel you tap them, they take off. Well, as soon as I tapped him, I laid on the gas, and I picked his rear wheels up off the ground and busted my grill in. But I knew I couldn't lift because I knew he was going to take off. And so I was really pushing him when we first got going there, and he got away from me. And when I went into third gear, it was like, man, my car just went into a different time zone. It just took off. It looked like his third gear maybe wasn't matched up as good as mine. His momentum slowed down, and I saw him crowding me to the inside. So I tried to fake outside and bring him back up the racetrack so that I could shoot through his mirror and maybe get inside of him. And I got there, I got just to his corner. And he kept pushing me down. There was a lot of debris and Speedy-Dry and all that stuff down there, and I didn't want to go through that, but I knew, you know, I had the momentum and I had to try to make it work.

Jeff, A, could you describe the last restart when you just broke clean away from him when you were in the lead? He said his car just wouldn't go on restarts, and if you could describe what happened there; and B, do you think the sort of uniform tire with people slipping and sliding around had more to do with a little more scrambling this year than there was last year?

GORDON: My car was real good, like I said, on restarts. So once I got out in front of them, I thought we were going to be pretty good. And Todd Bodine helped me out a little bit there, too. That Yates power and that thing kind of helped him get a good start. So my biggest concern on that restart was just getting by Todd. I wasn't sure if he had fresh tires or what the deal was, but I just wanted to get by him. And, you know, I got a real good start. It looked like Sterling really didn't get a very good start, and you know, I got around Todd and just kind of watched my mirror to see if he was going to affect, you know, my car at all. We started pulling away, and then Sterling got by him and actually closed in a little bit. And that's when I started getting a little concerned. My car was real good. I knew if he got close to me, he'd start pushing. But I started getting a little bit loose there those last few laps. So I was just trying to be real, real smooth. What was the second part?

Whether the tires had anything to do with more scrambling this year than last year.

GORDON: Oh, yeah, I tell you the tires, I mean you could put new tires on, and they'd last about a half a lap. You know, you really -- the car went away in a big way right away with these tires. But I don't know. To me, I think that, you know, that having a tire like that brings handling more into play, and I think that it will make it a little bit better race out of it. You know, I think if you've got a lot of grip in the tires, you're just going to have a bigger aero push. So I can't imagine the aero push being any worse than it was today. It was pretty bad, but that's just the characteristics of this racetrack as flat and fast as it is.

GREEN: David?

Considering everything that's happened to you between the ages of 20 and 30 --

GORDON: Including Lifelines and Phone-a-Friends?

Yeah, yeah, yeah, that's funny stuff, Jeff. (Laughter).

GORDON: You're never going to live it down.

I know. I'm a dead man. Can you think far enough ahead to think about if you have done as much as you have between 20 and 30, what is it going to be like to be sitting there and be 40 years old with all the stuff that you're likely to do between now and then?

GORDON: You know, I try not to think too far ahead. I think I've always been like that where I kind of live in the moment. You know, I try to be smart about the way I live and the things that I do and, you know, try to enjoy as much of the life that I've been given, the opportunities, the wonderful things that have happened to me in my life, try to enjoy them, you know, every chance I get because we don't get a lot of time in this deal. But, you know, it's been such a flash. I mean it's gone by so fast. I have to really stop myself and go, wow, you know, they -- I have done some things that have been absolutely incredible that I just -- you know, I'm just sitting here going, you know, I never dreamed, never imagined that I'd be in this type of position. So, you know, I give a lot of thanks to God for that, and I give a lot of thanks to people like Rick and Robbie and this team because I can't do it on my own. But over the next 10 years, you know, I'm just trying to get through age 30 right now, and I think people after yesterday were thinking that 30 was wearing on me. But I think after today, I'm hoping that 30 means that I'm coming into my prime. But, you know, if the next 10 are as good as these last 10 have been, I'm not going to know what to think, you know. But also in our business, just getting to 40 means something, too, you know. That's why I think sometimes you've got to live in the moment. You've got to enjoy life to its fullest. And I have no regrets. I've been very blessed and have enjoyed it very, very much. So no matter what happens, I'll always say that I've had a wonderful life.

GREEN: Right here with Bob.

Jeff, two things: What do you remember about your very first exposure to this place as a kid, whether it was in person or on television; and secondly, do you get a different feeling coming back here hearing all the cheers that you may not hear in other places? Does this feel like home when you race here?

GORDON: It certainly did after the race was over today. There was about however many, a hundred thousand people that were standing up cheering. And it's not too often you can hear the cheers over the engine when you're idling around this place. I got a chance to take my helmet off there on that last pace lap, and I could hear the cheers and that's -- that gets to you. That will get the emotions going. My first, I mean, obviously, I saw on TV races here, and I mean everybody in the type of racing I was doing, quarter midget racing, you know, it was always like Indy 500, Indy 500, you know. And so I just got embedded into my head some day I want to race in the Indy 500, you know. And so that was just something -- we've got footage of me being 8 years old doing a little interview and me saying, 'Yeah, I want to race in the Indy 500 some day.' So, you know, it was just something, you know, that meant a lot to me. It's special, and we came here I think in 1980 or '81 and got -- we didn't go to the 500 the first year, but came through the museum and took the bus tour, and it was the day after the 500, and, you know, I just, you know, thought it was the greatest thing ever to see where the cars actually ran that I watched on TV and where A.J. Foyt was pitting and Rick Mears and Al Unser and all that stuff. So that was -- you know, that was my first experience.

Jeff, were you near any of the incidents on the track today, that first one perhaps?

GORDON: Uh-huh.

And what did you get for your birthday?

GORDON: All too close, unfortunately. Fortunately, I made it through though. I saw -- I had Jeff Burton on the outside of me, and he and I were kind of battling for position right there at the beginning. And I was trying to not to hit him because I was sliding up into him a little bit. I had a car right on my bumper, and then I saw smoke up ahead of me, and I saw Robert Pressley go sideways. And in those kind of situations, especially that early -- and I was in a wreck here last year in the first couple of laps, and I didn't want to see my day ended that early -- I was afraid more of getting slowed down and having somebody run in the back of me. So I went through the grass a little bit coming off of turn two. And fortunately, nobody came across, and I was able to make it through there, you know, pretty good. And I was right behind Mark Martin. I think he got into it. So that was a real shame. For my birthday, I've gotten -- I tell you, I've been celebrating my birthday for a week and a half. My wonderful wife back there, she really knows how to make me feel special. And it comes through quality of time. It comes through gifts. It comes through a lot of things. But as far as material things, she got -- I'm a huge video-game nut. And we've got an arcade at our house, and she got me this game that is just -- it is the absolute coolest, baddest game that they make in the world. And it's actually a Ferrari game, and you're driving a Ferrari 355. So until Chevrolet comes out with a video game, I've got to go with the Ferrari. But it's so cool. And I was on that thing for about six hours the first day. And my team got me a new RC car. They know how I'm kind of into that these days. So I don't have many toys. Those are kind of my toys, and they hit it right on the nail, Brooke with that video game and the guys with that -- but it's been a great week. We were up in New York taping the Millionaire show. We out to dinner and went to a play, and then, you know, got here, and the guys had cake for me and gifts from Rick and everybody, and it's -- No, and I was not too disappointed. I was a little disappointed, but I wasn't too disappointed I qualified 27th yesterday because I was having a great birthday, no matter what.

Robbie, when you came over to work with Jeff, you said one of the big reasons was you felt like a basketball coach getting to coach Michael Jordan. And then things didn't exactly go the way you planned last year until toward the midpoint of the year. How much redemption do you feel -- and if Jeff could answer the same question -- now that you're having the season you're having and you win this race?

LOOMIS: Just, you know, like I've said in the past, I'm just very, very thankful for this opportunity to be with this team, and the tools that Mr. Hendrick gives us is unbelievable. I mean you walk through our engine shop, you walk through our R & D department, if you come up with an idea you want to test, they'll go test it somewhere. And I mean we have so much information to draw from. It's just a matter of getting the right stuff in the car, you know, and that's what was so aggravating come Saturday was we knew we had the stuff it took, but it wasn't in the car. And so, you know, that -- I try to be thankful every day for the opportunity that I have. And like you've said, up to this point, you know, I've had a great life. I enjoyed all my years of the past with the Pettys, you know, all my years up here in the past. And today is really, really special to win here with Jeff.

And if Jeff can answer the same question.

GORDON: Well, the neat thing about Robbie is it goes beyond just winning races. You know, he's somebody that thinks a lot of the people that he works with, and, you know, it was a big decision for him to step away from a great organization and surrounded by great people at Petty. And, you know, I worked him over pretty hard. I've become a pretty good salesman, Rick will tell you, over the last couple of years. But I worked him pretty hard to get him there, you know, and I just, I felt something, saw something in Robbie that felt like it was just a great quality in his personality as much as his talents, and I wanted him to be a part of this team and could be a leader with our team to show that to the other guys on this team of what it takes to work together. But this is great redemption as far as I'm concerned because I said a lot of things to him to get him there, and then we had such a bad year last year, in my mind. Michael was off last year, and, you know, to be able to come back and be strong like this, it makes me feel really happy to be able to give back to a guy like that that made such a big commitment and decision to come over.

GREEN: We have two more questions on this side, and then we'll head back to the other side of the room.

For Rick, I talked with you at Daytona about Jeff was being written off in a lot of surveys and national preseason magazines, if you will, and it seemed to stoke your fire a little bit. Could you reflect back on Daytona and how Jeff rolled into the season with not a lot of people thinking that he could get back at the top?

HENDRICK: Well, you know, last year, I don't think Jeff takes near the credit he deserves. I mean to finish finished in the top 10 and win three or four races, that's a -- that would be a great year for a lot of these guys out here. And we went through a tough time, and I remember the first race, that Robbie had people coming up to him saying, 'You're going to ruin -- you're ruining Jeff Gordon's career.' And I put my arm around him at that race, and I said, 'Look, you know, I get most of that hate mail. So, you know, don't feel bad about it. We've just got to keep digging.' But through all the down times, Jeff stepped up, and he became the leader, and he would -- you know, when we'd break and I'd walk up to him and say, 'Hey, I'm sorry, Buddy,' and you know, he'd say: 'What are you sorry for? You didn't break it.' And I think he assumed a role and tried to comfort everybody on the team, and we all made a statement in Charlotte: "We're going to win together or lose together, but we're going to be together. And we went to Daytona. We worked hard the offseason. But you could see the team coming together the second half of the year. I mean we had great momentum. But just everybody was having fun, and, you know, again, everybody knows that's seen Jeff Gordon drive a race car that writing him off was a mistake. Now, maybe he made a mistake by staying with me, but it wasn't anything to do with his talent. So he really redeemed Robbie and I both. And, you know, the team's having fun. I mean they're really enjoying it. And, you know, they don't -- they know they can win any day, and we just have to give them the good stuff and work hard. And, you know, I just -- I'm real proud for Robbie because not a lot of guys were brave enough to step into those shoes and know that it's kind of hard to be any more successful than that team was before we got there. To match it would have been awesome. To be better would have been, you know, almost undoable. So, you know, he takes a lot of credit. I mean they just -- they're an awesome package in Brian. I mean the three of them just -- and the whole -- everybody in the team has input, and I think sometimes you're not as bad as people think you are, and sometimes you're not as good as they think you are. And I think I could see the fire in Jeff's eyes the second half, and he never said anything, but I think he was going to let his talking happen on the track, and he did a pretty good job of it.

GORDON: I tell you, that is something there too. Nobody wanted this job. I mean you would think, you know, to go work for Hendrick Motorsports and be a crew chief of a team that's had as much success, it's like if you look at the positive side of it, there's a lot of positive things, but then you look at the negative side, and there's probably more -- were more negatives from a crew chief's standpoint looking into it saying, 'Well, I can't stack up to that. I can't win that many races. We can't win that many championships.' You know, there's a lot of things that can -- the media and the fans could just tear you apart if you didn't live up to that. And that's what makes me so proud of Robbie is that he saw through that, and, you know, he saw the resources. He saw that this is an opportunity for him to not only shine, but to be a part of something special. And that goes a long way. I mean this guy, one thing he's taught me is about loyalty. And I think that this guy is a very loyal person. He was at Petty, and that was a very tough decision for him to make but -- you know, and he went through a lot of abuse last year from a lot of different angles, and that's what makes me so proud to be able to see him go to Victory Lane at Indianapolis, things that he came here for. This is the moment that he was looking for, and, you know, it's a great feeling to be a part of that.

Jeff, can you talk a little bit about your impressions of the Dodges today in terms of how they ran collectively in different situations you were in with them this week versus previous weeks?

GORDON: I saw a difference. I definitely did. When I was back there in that traffic, there was -- I had -- the 01 car drove by me on the outside twice off of Turn 2, and I was like, man, you know, that just doesn't happen. And so I saw a difference. You know, I still believe, though, that you've got to be in the right position. You've got to have the right pit stops. You've got to have the whole package. You know, just pushing the front end out 2 inches, that's not just going to all of a sudden make them all just lap the field. You know, it's giving the edge that they need. I think they're going to start winning. I really do. They're going to start figuring it out, and it's going to make a difference. But, you know, just like Sterling there at the end, I mean he had about 14, 15 laps more on his tires, and had that thing had to go too many more laps, I mean he -- I was getting loose, and he was hanging right with me, and he would close every once in awhile. So I saw a difference. I think they were definitely an improvement.

The last three years, the winner of this race has gone on to win the championship, and you extended your lead today. Feeling pretty good?

GORDON: Well, yesterday I was saying that's just a coincidence. Today I'm saying, yeah, absolutely, you know. It still is a coincidence. We've got a lot of racing left to go. I think that what this did to us and for us, not only within our team, but in the sport, I think it just said, you know, hey, these guys are not going to give up until that checkered flag is flying. They're going to rise to the occasion when the opportunity comes to them. And, you know, we're fighters, and we're going to fight till the end, and we're having a good year too. I think it shows that we're having things go our way. We certainly did today. We've got a very strong team, and it's funny how, you know, last week we led so many laps but we didn't lead the right ones, and this weekend, we didn't lead hardly any laps, but we led the ones that counted most. And you know, I think those are just true signs of a great team. And I think it takes a great team to win here at Indianapolis, and that maybe is an indication of why some guys in the past few years have gone on to win the championship.

Rick, I asked Jeff about him being 30 years old, and, you know, Kevin Harvick said last week that he doesn't get tired. And I asked him how old he was, and he said 25. And I said wait 15 years, but...

GORDON: They're been trying to wear him out.

Can you talk about the progression you've seen in him since you saw him about wreck that car in Atlanta that day and from there and how far he's come and how much left there is to go there? I mean what's the upside for Jeff Gordon after he's won so much so soon?

HENDRICK: Well, I think I've said this a million times. He amazes me every time I see him in the car. And I thank -- I said this the other day, thank the good Lord I don't have to race against him. And when he started, he had this raw unbelievable talent and brain beyond, you know, anything I've seen. A lot of the style like Tim Richmond, but Jeff matured so quick, I mean, and started coming along, and I think he and Brooke, it's really an amazing story off the track to see the level of commitment they have to each other and to charities and not afraid to talk about their faith. And all the time, I think he didn't have to be a leader of the team. Ray kind of led the team, and he was always telling Jeff, you know, do this, come here. Last year, Jeff stepped up and became involved in the chassis and talking to them on the radio what he thought the car would need, and I saw him mature to another level, I mean way beyond last year, a 30-year-old. I mean like I've got -- I've seen some 50-year-olds out here that are not as mature as he's been. But just the sense of being able to dedicate the time to the team, to the sponsors, just -- and I said this the other day. He's got the whole package, and you'd think it would flatten out and level off, and it hasn't. It just keeps getting better. I mean he just keeps stepping it up every time I think -- and some of you folks probably think I'm wetting your leg a little bit, but that's the way it is. And you know what he can do with a car. You've seen him do it. You saw it, I mean, at Michigan on the outside, out of control or, you know, loose at 200 miles an hour, and that guy that just won't give it up when the chips are down. But, you know, it's just hard to have that the leadership ability, the personality with the sponsors, the do good for the community and all that. And I just see his skills at being a smart racer. And, you know, experience, if you do it and you've been there and you've done it and you've done it and you've done it, I think Dale Earnhardt had everything in the world. Jeff told me one of the funniest stories I've heard about Earnhardt down in Daytona when they was down there driving, you know, like an IROC car, and he and Schrader were beside each other, and Earnhardt was behind him, and he looked over, and they were racing each other hard, and Dale come up on the inside, looked over at him grinning with his hand on the roll bar. You know, it's just you've got to have done that a long time to feel comfortable in doing some of the moves and, you know, your gut tells you take two tires and so forth. And I mean the good news for our team is just going to the tracks more and more every day, he and Robbie and Brian work together more and more, and he gets more experience in the car, and he's still got all that talent. You know, I look -- you know, we just -- we just need to stay on our plan and keep our group together, and, you know, I think -- I don't know how high "up" would be, but I think the Michael Jordan is a good analogy. And, you know, I'm looking forward to a lot more years.

GREEN: We've got a request for four more questions. I'm going to take Chris and then end up over here with the three over here.

Robbie, the fact that the second-place car which could not catch him was a Ray Evernham car make the victory any sweeter?

GORDON: It wasn't a Ray Evernham.

Well, the Dodge, and he was overseeing the Dodge operations?

LOOMIS: No, not really. You know, every week I say when we go out there and run on the racetrack, the biggest thing I look at is who's number one and how fast they ran and what it's going to take us to get there. All that other stuff in between is not really important to us. It's a matter of taking the stuff that we've got in the truck and seeing what it takes to be number one. So it didn't matter who was second to me.

Not at all.

GREEN: Over here with Rich?

Jeff, could you talk about the prestige of being a multiwinner here? I mean nobody talks about three-time winners at Michigan and Pocono. And then Rick, after that, could you talk about, you know, you having three wins, and are you kind of the Penske of the stock-car world?

GORDON: Yeah, you're right. You know, it tells you how prestigious an event is when they start really highlighting a two-time or three-time winner of something, you know, just like the Daytona 500. I think Richard Petty what, won there seven times or -- you know, so the big events, the Daytona 500, you know, the Southern 500s, and the Brickyard are obviously very important races, and I think especially with this race being young to our community and to the NASCAR fans, it's something that is extremely prestigious just to be a part of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and to, you know, come here and race here. So, you know, I never thought I'd win once, one Winston Cup race, let alone, I don't know, 55 or '6 now and never dreamed I'd win one Brickyard race. So it's pretty, you know, overwhelming to me, really.

GREEN: Our final two questions.

Robbie, other than the track position which you obviously would have gained, was there any other factor that gave you the confidence to make the call that you made on the pit stop?

LOOMIS: One big factor: Jeff Gordon. I mean, you know, he gives you so much confidence, and really we talked about, I wanted to gas only after, you know, last week I made the four-tire call there and we got way behind, and like he said, probably should have won that race, but, you know, we come back and finished eighth. This week I knew we were trapped, and I was like we've got to do gas only, and he was wanting four tires. So we split it in the middle. We put two on. (Laughter)

GREEN: I apologize. Rich had a follow-up for Rick.

HENDRICK: OK. You know, it's been really neat to win this race. I mean like I said, I said it earlier, you know, never dreamed I'd get to come here as a spectator and then to win a race and win it three times, the inaugural race. We've got that car in a museum. And to walk out here, every time I walk out through that valley of people, I get chill bumps. So have been very fortunate. We got 101 win this year. And, you know, that's an awesome feeling in this sport to within 100 times. And I used to be, when the young guys on pit road -- I guess that means now I'm one of the oldest guys on pit road. But we've got a great organization, been together a long time with Randy Dorton and Eddie and Kent House. We've raced since the GTP cars and, you know, Penske is -- you know, I probably owe as much as Roger's worth. So I mean, you know, I don't really put myself in his category. But he does a classy job in the CART series and the Cup series, and, you know, it's just I feel very fortunate to have been in something that I love and been able to enjoy the fruits of everybody working hard, you know.

GREEN: The last question.

This is for Robbie and Jeff. Two things, was this your most challenging victory that you had to go through during the day in your time together; and second of all, how has your relationship developed between the two to where you were able to overcome such obstacles as today?

LOOMIS: You know, probably when you lay down tonight and think about it, it was the most challenging today. But, you know, when I laid down after Las Vegas, that was just like this race today. I mean we were way off the car. We qualified bad. We had to work on it and work on it, and it worked out, played a little different. We put two tires on earlier in the race and got us up there. But, you know, really the first race I remember kind of being a real team effort. You know, I was listening to the tire guys' input anything. Anybody on the team that had something to say, we were listening to them, making adjustments on the car. It was probably the Richmond night race last year, and I think that race right there showed us if we keep working together, we keep communicating, like I said earlier, you know, before Jeff got in here, I would rather take him than a Pi system computer to help set the car up because his feedback is going to get you in the right direction.

GREEN: Jeff, your comments?

GORDON: I tell you, I was feeling some pretty frustrated moments out there, you know, very helpless I guess more than anything when you're out there and they drop the green and you know you don't have what it takes, you know, at that moment. And that's when you have to just calm yourself, you know, and that was tougher than anything to do and just say, you know what, this is a long race. I saw some other guys having trouble brushing the wall or, you know, motor trouble, whatever. And I said it's going to be a long day. A lot is going to happen. I told myself that a couple times in the car: A lot of things are going to go on before this thing's over. So don't get too frustrated. The first half I think was very challenging, and, you know, there was a lot of maybe doubt or whatever. But we never lost sight of how hard we were going to have to work to get it better, and even if that meant that we got a 15th-place finish, it's just, hey, get the best finish you can possibly get. And like I said, you know, there are times when you've got to lean on one another. He's got to say some things to me to calm me down, you know, and I've got to say some things to comfort him in the way the car maybe doesn't look as good out there as it actually could be. But that second half of the race was totally different. It's like it was like there was two different races out there for us. The second half of the race, once we started getting some track position, actually, the car was driving good. You know, I was pretty comfortable with it. We were, you know, able to keep some cars that had led earlier behind us. And I said, 'All right, man. Now we've got something here. You know, we've got a shot at this thing.' Now, it's so funny how you are. You go from, man, 'd love to just get in the top 15 to hey, man, we've got a top-five car here, maybe even a chance to win this thing if the cautions fall right or the pit stops work out right. And that's the way it is.

GREEN: Rick, Robbie, Jeff, congratulations.

GORDON: Thank you, appreciate it.

-IMS-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Todd Bodine , Kevin Harvick , Robert Pressley , Al Unser Sr. , Rick Mears , Richard Petty , Ray Evernham , Robbie Loomis , A.J. Foyt , Tim Richmond , Mark Martin
Teams Hendrick Motorsports