Part 1 of 2 JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - (Winner - takes his 3rd win of the season, his 61st Winston Cup career win) "It was a good day for us. When we unloaded off the truck on Friday, we were pretty awesome. I felt good...
Part 1 of 2
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - (Winner - takes his 3rd win of the season, his 61st Winston Cup career win)
"It was a good day for us. When we unloaded off the truck on Friday, we were pretty awesome. I felt good from our win here last year and from the test we had with Goodyear. I was a little disappointed when we qualified 10th. I thought we were capable of being a little bit better than that. Yesterday in practice, we were one of the fastest cars on the track. You just had that feeling, you know. You could just sense that we had something that was going to be strong for today. When they dropped the green (flag) and I drove by a couple of cars, I knew right then it was going to be a good day.
"We got a little bit tight and I don't know if the track freed up or if we freed the car up. Track position was also key. We had to overcome some adversity. One time when we stayed out with Ryan (Newman) and everybody else peeled off and I told the guys that I was sorry right then because I knew that that could bite us. We lost track position and never really got the long green flag runs that we needed to gain those positions back. We tried a two-tire stop and I got blocked in the pits and didn't take off. There were some times when I was shaking my head thinking today wasn't the day. But once we got those long green flag runs, we just found out how good our car was. We drove by some great race cars and drove up into the top five and then came in and the guys just busted off a great stop. From then on, it was our race to take control of."
REGARDING THE POINT STANDINGS, HOW MUCH DID YOU REALLY NEED TO WIN TODAY?
"Well, we've won three out of the last six races but those other three were really not good. I don't know if we needed a win, but we needed a strong finish. We needed to gain some points. Obviously, we couldn't ask for more than we got out of it today. It's funny how things happen. Last week I thought this was not meant to be. And this week.....whew....we got 'em. We're on top of our game and we've got a shot at this thing (title). These last seven races are going to be really interesting. We can't focus on what other guys are doing - whether they're doing something good or having trouble - all we can focus on is our own program. That's how we've won championships in the past and that's how we're going to win them in the future. It seems like we're coming into our own here towards the end of the season where we're getting better and that's got me really pumped up and excited to go to each race. Talladega is kind of a wash because it's a restrictor-plate deal. But we're going to go get what we can out of there. And then when we go to Charlotte, we're going to be on a mission. It's going to be exciting."
ON THE TIRES NEAR THE END OF THE RACE
"I was really disappointed with that last set of tires. When we took off and I was in clean air, I was driving hard. Literally, the thing was just wrecking going into turn one and turn three. I felt like I was losing a lot of time on the track. Maybe other guys were fighting the same thing and I just didn't realize it. But it was everything I could do to just hold onto it. So when the caution came out, we got the idea that maybe we needed to come in and get tires. It would have been interesting to see what would have happened. But when I looked in my mirror and I saw a line up high. I wasn't sure if they're coming and Robbie said for me to make the call. I saw they weren't coming and I crossed my fingers and hoped that when we went back green that baby would stick. And actually, that was the best the car had been all day was when the tires cooled down a little bit and the pressures were up, that thing was on a rail."
TELL US ABOUT YOUR TEAM MEETING LAST MONDAY
"I was not real happy after last weekend's race (Dover) and I think everybody knew that. It wasn't anybody's fault, but you see it get so close and then you see it start to fall apart. It's frustrating. You want to win the championship and every lap and every position counts. I was pretty upset. When we left, I said it right there on TV that if we didn't do something in Kansas, we'd be in trouble. I'm glad I said it now, but at the time I wasn't so sure it was the right thing to say.
"But Robbie (Loomis) meets with the guys every week and I had a crazy week so I wasn't really around. But in today's meeting, I told the guys that unfortunately we needed a win today. But fortunately, we're capable of a win today. I said we should just go out there and show them what we're made of. Sometimes you've got that feeling you're going to win and sometimes you don't have it at all and you go out there and win. It was just awesome today to see how the team worked together and never panicked. Everything really fell in place for us."
AFTER THE ACCIDENT IN DOVER, WERE YOU HAPPY TO GO TO KANSAS?
"Yeah, I knew that we were good here last year. And we were good at Chicago earlier in the year and these tracks are similar. I was just glad to get out of Dover. It didn't matter where we were going, I just wanted to go somewhere else and get another race under out belt and show that we could go out and win. But I do like this track. I'm probably more excited about coming back here next year than I was this year."
IN THE NEXT FEW RACES, WILL YOU BE AN ADVISOR OR A COMPETITOR TO JIMMIE JOHNSON?
"How am I supposed to advise a guy who's been wearing me out all year long? There are some people that have it and some people that don't. The guy has got it. There's just something about it. When it's crunch time, he knows how to get the win. What's amazing to me with these young guys - especially Jimmie - is the head they've got on their shoulders. We've put him in great equipment, but there are a lot of guys out there in great equipment. He's spectacular. It's more than just his driving ability. It's the way he thinks and how he handles himself.
"We talk a lot. We've become great friends. But I don't know if we talk about that. I guess maybe we need to get a little bit closer to the end before I can offer him anything. I haven't seen the pressure get to him. Right now, I really don't want him to be thinking about it. I just want him to go out there and run his races the same way we are. What I've seen so far, he doesn't need anything from me."
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO WILL YOUR WAY TO TWO WINS?
"Well, I know what you're saying. I was putting the pressure on myself and the team at the same time. I don't normally like to do that. Sometimes it's just crunch time when you've got to perform and you don't have a choice. It's like a do or die situation. After the last three weeks, I just felt if we had another week like that, we were done. Whether that's the case or not, it popped into my mind. So, I guess I'll start willing us into some more wins."
CAN YOU PUT YOUR FINGER ON THE CHANGE YOU'VE BEEN GOING THROUGH THIS SEASON?
"It's hard to really put your finger on why you win some races and why you don't win. I can't say that we're really doing anything different today. The communication's always been good. The effort's always been there. There are silly things that can knock you out of contention. At Bristol (first round), I had the car to win the race but spun out and crashed. The first Darlington, we had a car capable to winning and I got caught up in a wreck. Now we're back in Kansas. But this time, we brought more horsepower than we've had all season long. That's probably been the biggest gain. I hope we can keep bringing this stuff the rest of the season because that's going to get us some more wins and make us a serious threat for the championship."
HOW MUCH OF YOUR WIN TODAY WAS ENGINE AND HOW MUCH WAS THE NOSE KICKOUT?
"I just think it's clean air. Ryan (Newman) was one of the best cars and he's in a Ford. When he got out front, he drove away. I think that's really what means the most is getting the car out front. Horsepower is big for us. The No. 12 and the No. 2 have had it all year long. Maybe we're closing the gap in some areas and learning more about the kick and making more out of it. I think we're just on more equal ground. We haven't been a threat for the win on these types of tracks most of the year. I'm thankful that NASCAR gave us the kick, but I don't really feel like it's made the difference of whether you're competitive or not."
-team monte carlo-
Winning team press conference, part II