NHIS - Tony Stewart leads Chevy to top three qualifying spots Jeff Gordon Press Conference Transcript JEFF GORDON , NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO (Qualified 2nd) "We've had a lot going on this week. It's certainly been a tough...
NHIS - Tony Stewart leads Chevy to top three qualifying spots
Jeff Gordon Press Conference Transcript
, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO
"We've had a lot going on this week. It's certainly been a tough season for us. But this track was good for us the last couple of times we've been here and especially the last time we were here, we were running really good until we had that brake problem late in the race. We didn't qualify great the last time we were here. What was really good about this week is that we were able to come here with a car and a set-up that was pretty much a baseline from where we ended the last time we were here and just work on that. I thought Steve (Letarte) did a great job just by asking a lot of questions about what the car was doing. The communication was good. He made some great calls. We were really good in the race runs yesterday. But we were off a little bit with our qualifying run. The car was great today. I hate that we missed it by just that slight amount, but still second to us and being on the front row right now is almost as good as being on the front row."
ON THE TRACK CONDITIONS
"A lot of it has to do with the type of rubber that's put down on the track prior to us being here. It's a big plus for us to have the Trucks here. We had them out there qualifying earlier today and prior to us practicing yesterday. And so, just getting that extra rubber on the track and the cloud cover that we've had has been consistent as well. That's made conditions good for us to make adjustments. The track was pretty consistent for us from yesterday to today."
YOU'VE QUALIFIED WELL FOR 6 RACES IN A ROW AND THEN NOT RUN TOO WELL IN THE RACE. WHAT'S THE NEXT STEP?
"If you go back earlier in the season on the impound tracks, we didn't qualify good. We were better in the race than we were in qualifying. We started working on getting the car qualified good. We've figured out how to qualify better but not how to race better. It's hard to figure out how to do more than we're doing. A track like this is more like a short track. You don't have as crazy of set-ups or they don't seem to affect the car as much as on l.5-mile race tracks where aero means so much. I'm really happy that with all the changes we've made we've been able to come here with a good baseline. We made 10 to 12-lap runs. But tomorrow we've got to make much longer runs than that. It's hard to predict how you're going to be. You feel like you're going to have a strong car. I felt like that in California and we just didn't. We've got to figure out what we need to improve on that. We just need to get out there and do our best."
HOW MANY RACES WILL IT TAKE TO GET USED TO A NEW CREW CHIEF?
"I'm hoping about 10. I'd like to get started off right next season. Steve (Letarte) is not new to me. I've known him for many years. When Robbie (Loomis) was in the window, Steve was in the window right next to him. Robbie was asking the questions about what the car was doing and Steve was the guy who made it happen -- physically organized and changed the springs and sway bars and all that stuff. It was strange yesterday when Steve was in the window asking me the questions. That's going to take some time to get used to that. But we already do know one another and have a relationship and good communication. I believe 100 percent in him. Some people think this will be an interim thing. But that's not the way I'm looking at it. I've thought this for the last three or four years that Steve has the potential to be one of the best crew chiefs in the garage area. We're fortunate he's grown up with us and been able to learn at our organization. I know I'm late in my career, being 34 years old, I don't know how many years I have left to win championship. A lot of people might question a young guy with no experience. I am very comfortable with who I am and where I am today and I believe in our organization and in Steve."
WHAT IS STEVE LETARTE'S LEARNING CURVE?
"I think he's going to do great with working with me and the team. He knows these guys better than anybody. The tough part that comes on a crew chief is trying to deal with all these different personalities when you've got to make decisions on whether a guy is doing his job or whether you need to make a change. Those are big decisions. As a crew chief, you don't want to have to be involved with that. You want to focus on the car and how to make it faster and the driver more comfortable and winning races. It's all the people skills and the stuff that goes on at the race shop is going to be the biggest learning curve for him. So far, every step of the way, he's done so and then some. Every time we add more responsibility to him, he exceeds our expectations. I see no reason why he can't do it. We are surrounding him with experienced people so he can tap into those resources."