Martinsville II: Jeff Gordon qualifying interview

Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Monte Carlo SS - Qualified Second ON HIS QUALIFYING LAP: "Well I was real happy with it. I knew Kurt (Busch), Denny (Hamlin), Ryan (Newman) and Jimmie Johnson were all going to be threats for the pole. I was a little...

Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Monte Carlo SS - Qualified Second

ON HIS QUALIFYING LAP: "Well I was real happy with it. I knew Kurt (Busch), Denny (Hamlin), Ryan (Newman) and Jimmie Johnson were all going to be threats for the pole. I was a little bit surprised how quick the car came to me. I was expecting it to happen on our second time lap. It came to us earlier so the second lap I tried to get a little bit more of it and got a little too much out of it. But all in all a great lap. We ran about what we ran in practice, a little bit faster maybe. I'm real happy with it. I wanted that number one pit stall. Everybody knows how important that is so we'll get the next best one but be on the front row. Ever since they did the new concrete here, we just have not qualified good at all. We were on a roll there - I think pole, pole, pole. Then they did the new concrete and it really changed how you qualify around this track. It just carries more momentum. It's taken us a while to get the hang of it and I feel like today we really started finally hitting on some things."

HISTORY SHOWS THAT UNLESS YOU START IN THE TOP FOUR HERE, YOU DON'T REALLY HAVE A LOT OF CHANCES OF WINNING THE RACE. IS THERE ANY HOPE FOR THE GUY THAT'S STARTING 21st or 22nd HERE? "We haven't qualified very good here the last three races but we still (have) run pretty good in the races and I think we have one win in there. I definitely think qualifying up front even at a short track is very important. Pit road is so important here. It's so tight that I think that a good pit stall can really play to your favor. Track position is tough to get here so if you have a good car and can put four tires on all day and maintain your track position; it's hard to beat that. It's paid off for us when we had it and we've had to work extremely hard when we didn't have it to get up there and battle for it. I'm certainly glad we're starting up front."

IS THIS THE PLACE WHERE IF YOU ARE GOING TO MAKE ANY HEADWAY ON JEFF BURTON, IT'S GOT TO BE HERE? IF BURTON DOES WELL ON SUNDAY, WILL IT BE HARDER TO DEAL WITH HIM AFTER THAT? "I think it just depends on who it is you're talking about. There are certain guys that just run good here no matter where they are at in the Chase. Then there's certain guys that don't. For Burton all eyes are on him and it's about not making mistakes now instead of going out and attacking. That's tough because you don't want to get off your normal game plan. You come in to a short track like Martinsville and it's tight and narrow and a lot of instances happen on pit road and on the track. He's probably thinking 'I just want to survive this weekend.' Sometimes that can go against you but I've seen him run good here at times. I think as good as they've been lately and things have been going their way as well, if that continues it will probably continue here as well."

ON WARD BURTON RACING THIS WEEKEND: "I thought it was cool. It was great to see him make the race. Being here is the perfect place for him to come back at as well. I think it's kind of a mystery when people look back on the whole scenario of him being in this sport and the things he's done in this sport, especially winning the Daytona 500 and different things, of how it kind of went away. It just shows you how fragile things can be even if you won races in the past. (It shows) how the sport can take somebody of his caliber and all the sudden they are no longer in the garage area so this is a great opportunity for him to come back out if it goes well for him. It's been exciting for everybody not just the competitors but the fans as well."

SEEING THE NO. 2 CAR DO WELL HERE TODAY, IS IT LIKE A FLASHBACK? "Yeah, I was saying that when I was looking up on the board there walking over here. The 2 and the 24 - that's pretty cool. Kurt is a good qualifier and I knew he'd be strong today and it's no surprise to me that he's on the pole. When you look at the history of that car with Rusty (Wallace) in it and they've always run well here. It gives them a good baseline to start with but I think the setups have changed and driving styles have changed and maybe even Kurt's driving style versus Rusty's. I give him and that team a lot of credit especially after everything they went through this week. To be able to come back and get on the pole, that's pretty impressive."

Tony Stewart, No. 20 The Home Depot Monte Carlo SS - Qualified Fifth HOW WAS YOUR LAP? "We picked up a lot (from practice), which is good. We tried some stuff in practice that didn't work well. But you've got to do those things. If you don't try things and don't do things to try and make yourself better, you don't get any better. We put back on what we knew would work, and I'd like to go re-run (the lap) again and make one little adjustment because we'd definitely go faster and have a shot at the pole. But I'm really happy. Zippy (crew chief Greg Zipadelli) and the guys did a good job getting it back together and we're really good in race trim."

WOULD YOU HAVE MADE ALL THOSE CHANGES IF YOU WERE IN THE CHASE? "Yeah, even if we were in the Chase we'd of done the same thing. Technology changes so fast that what you ran here and won with in the spring isn't necessarily what will win you the race in the fall. So, you've got to try things. The guys did a good job of getting it all squared away and we ended up with a good time."

HOW DO YOU LIKE RACING AT MARTINSVILLE? "I love this place. We run really well here. Hopefully, this will keep us in the top-five or six spots, hopefully, and we'll have a good starting spot for the race."

IF YOU WIN ANOTHER CLOCK, WHERE WILL YOU PUT IT? "Don't worry. Flavor Flav's got more clocks than me. So, until I catch up with him, I'm not worried about it."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Jimmie Johnson