J. Gordon, R. Loomis Phoeninx notes

JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) "If it's overcast today and we come back tomorrow and it's hotter or sunny or whatever, then that's going to throw us off a little bit, but right now the overcast is real ...

JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) "If it's overcast today and we come back tomorrow and it's hotter or sunny or whatever, then that's going to throw us off a little bit, but right now the overcast is real consistent and I think it's helping us adjust our cars right now. I think you're going to have to run good throughout your whole run. This is one of those tracks where the tires don't seem to give up a whole lot. It's a pretty good tire here. You don't want to give up track position at the beginning of the run, but the guys who are good on the long runs are certainly going to come to the front. I've got a little work left to do. I'm starting a little further back than I'd like to be, but as good as we were in practice, we've got something that can come up to the front. "This hasn't' been our best track, that's for sure. We don't get a chance to come and test here. We only come here once a year, but it's a track where we've shown at times that we're certainly capable of winning. We've never pulled it off. We've never been in position to do that. I'm hoping this is the one. "Robbie Loomis (crew chief) has run well here in the past with other cars, and I'm hoping with all the things we've been learning this year and seeing the team come together right now, this will be the one. "It's our team together. We've all struggled and we've had our frustrations this year, but we've also had our highlights and have won some races. We've all done it together. I hit it off with Robbie right from the beginning. Still, even though we hit it off, you've got to go through learning each others language and how each other works. That took a little bit of time. I think one of the reasons we've been coming into our own is because our communication has been getting better. Our understanding of each other has been getting better. The team has been supportive, and our race cars have improved that much because of all that good communication. "I'd much rather be going for a championship right now, but it's a lot different when you're not. We're just trying to make the most of it, but I don't think you're as enthusiastic about where you're at in the points as if you were going for a championship. At the same time, you're trying to build for next year and maintain and improve in the points and win races. I think there's some excitement that comes with that, too, but it's a different feeling. We're not concerned with points right now. We want to get our cars the best we can and end the season on a real positive note. I hope that can carry us through the off season. "It's stressful at this stage of the season when you're running for a championship, especially your first championship. You're hoping everything goes the way it should. This track has been decent to me where we've had top 10s here, but we've also fought really hard to get those top 10s. We've run over things and had flat tires. We've had crazy things happen. It's been a pretty stressful track. I hoping we can be a little more stress free this time around. "This is a very unique track. Both ends are different. One end is flat and the other is banked. It's a hard track to set up for both ends of the track. Chevrolet is different than Pontiac, and Robbie won here with a Pontiac (Bobby Hamilton 1996). Setups are constantly evolving, tires are constantly evolving. You have to keep up with the competition. I think he's thrown a combination of what he's had in the past and what we've had in the past and come up with something pretty good. He's thrown some new things in there also, so I think we're going to be in pretty good shape. We'll fine tune a little more in Happy Hour and hope for the best on Sunday."

ROBBIE LOOMIS (Crew Chief No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "What we ran last week might now work this week, so what we won with here in 1996 probably won't work this week, either. Setups are changing all the time, but a lot of the same principles still work. You've just got to look at everything. You can't stick with the same stuff. Basically it's a flat track, and what works on flat tracks will usually work out here. "I love Phoenix. I won my first race as a Winston Cup crew chief here. I kidded Jeff coming out here because last year we were on the pole with John Andretti and Jeff qualified second. I said we'll probably come out here and qualify 25 and we ended up 24th, so that was pretty close. "It was real frustrating. We couldn't get the feel Jeff needed in the car, but we were real good today in the first practice. The car looked like it needs to look out here at Phoenix, so I think we've got a real good shot. "I hear the weather is going to be near the same Sunday. Usually it's beautiful out here and weather isn't a factor, but it looks like we might need to keep an eye on it this time. "I'd say Tony Stewart will be tough again. If for nothing else from the way he ran out here last year, he'll be tough. We were out there leading by about a straightaway and then here comes Stewart out of nowhere to take the lead. Pontiac is a real good car for this track. It has real good front downforce right now, and that's what we're fighting a little bit with the Chevrolets. You need to keep the front end planted down at these flat tracks. "Jeff Gordon doesn't really have a bad track. It's just a matter of getting the feel he needs in the car and obviously that comes easier at some tracks than others. We've got a good plan put together for Sunday. We're going to fine tune it in Happy Hour and see where we end up."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Bobby Hamilton , Tony Stewart , Robbie Loomis