Martinsville II: Jeff Gordon qualifying press conference

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVY MONTE CARLO (second) ANOTHER GOOD RUN, JUST MISSED THE POLE: "I love Martinsville. I'm really thrilled that we had a good strong finish today. I guess going out early and setting the mark, you get your hopes up.

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVY MONTE CARLO (second)

ANOTHER GOOD RUN, JUST MISSED THE POLE:

"I love Martinsville. I'm really thrilled that we had a good strong finish today. I guess going out early and setting the mark, you get your hopes up. A heck of a lap that Ryan put out there. I watched him, he was smooth and laid the power down nice and made a good lap. I knew we were in trouble when I saw his first lap. We're real happy. I didn't know what to expect when we first rolled out there this morning with the changing conditions of the turns. It was definitely different. This place has been so good to me and we've always had a great setup for this place and I didn't really want to see them make any changes. The last time we were here I felt like we had the car to beat, so I was a little concerned with that. But we were able to get the car working real well today and come home with a second-place finish and we'll get to work on it for Sunday."

YOU COULD MAKE IT TWO-THIRDS OF ALL SHORT-TRACK WINS ON SUNDAY:

"Well, like I said, this is one of my favorite tracks. We've run well here. This is an opportunity for us to put a good strong finish together and try to capitalize on something we weren't able to earlier in the year when we were here the first time. We were really strong and got caught up in something there off turn 4 and we put a heck of an effort out that day because a loss of power steering pump belt had some damage and still I think we came home like 23rd or something like that. That, to me, for what we had to go through was a great, great finish for us. But I'm hoping this time we can keep that car up front and make a real challenge for the win and just keep getting these strong finishes like we did last weekend and put that same type of effort and hopefully finish again out there this weekend."

POINT RACE, FEWEST POINTS SEPARATING TOP FIVE. YOU'RE JUST OUTSIDE THAT NUMBER:

"We do (have a shot at the championship). Mathematically we do. I think that some guys are going to really have trouble. We can go out there and just like last weekend. We finished fourth, put a great finish out there, but look at where all the points guys were. Third and sixth and eighth. They were all right there. Unless somebody makes a mistake or bobbles and we got to pretty much put great races together for the rest of the season. I'm not saying that's not possible; it certainly is. And we're a team that's capable of doing that. We're going to take advantage of the places that are good to us; places that we're capable of winning and getting a lot of points and certainly this is one of them."

DO YOU LIKE WHAT'S HAPPENED TO MARTINSVILLE?

"I'm not disliking it right now because I qualified second today. It's not that I don't like what they've done I just don't understand it. I'm confused. I think that their intention was to get some of the bumps out of the track. I think they definitely accomplished that. But I don't know. I just don't understand it. I never heard anybody mention it or talk about and all of a sudden I heard cars were testing here two weeks ago and that they've ground the track. It's definitely lost some grip getting in and grip getting off the corners when you feed the power down to it. I don't really think there's anything wrong with it. Car's ran well around here. We were close to what we ran the last time we were here. And as we run throughout the weekend I'm interested to see what it's going to be like. I would have thought that they would have done it two grooves all the way around. Because it definitely adds a little bit of grip in the middle of the corner, so I would have liked to have that outside groove, especially now that I'm starting on the outside of the front row. I would have liked for them to have done it in the second groove also, in the middle of the corners. I don't know. I don't understand also when they concreted this place in the corners why they ended it where they ended it. If they could have ended it in the worst possible place they did, but that's a challenge that's always been there for us. It's something that we've been able to get around. It's something that was always just Martinsville and so were the bumps. As good as we've run here any change is something that we're really wanting to hear or see, but since I've gotten here I don't mind it too much. I think we're going to be all right with it."

CONCERNING NASCAR'S INVOLVEMENT IN TRACK SURFACES:

"I do think we're at the level now where we don't need to just go in there and make a patch. I think if you're going to do it, do it right. I know that every effort is put out there to do it right. I'm no paving expert, so I don't know if I really have the proper credentials to answer that. I know that that's not anything that I would have done. But what does my opinion matter when I don't know much about concrete and laying it down on the race track."

FORMULA 1 HAS PAVING EXPERTS, SAYING GET IT SMOOTH OR WE'RE NOT RUNNING HERE:

"I would like to see it like that, sure."

"There's no safety concerns with it. I don't see an issue with safety. It's really just more of a consistency of grip. The only other concern I have is tire wear. I heard that it really ground the tires down. I won't know about that until tomorrow 'til we start running a lot more laps."

COMMENT ON TAKING IT EASY IN EARLY GOING AS FAR AS POINTS ARE CONCERNED, PACING YOURSELF EARLY?

"I think anywhere these days you start deep in the field you've got to be careful. Track position is so important you're going to work hard to get that track position. Sometimes you have to do different strategies in the pits to get it. The biggest thing I think you run into here is pit location. When you're that far back you're not going to get a very good pit. Getting damaged in the pits is almost easier than getting it on the race track. That's something they're going to have to be concerned with. I believe especially as tight as the points are right now you can't really go out there trying to protect them, trying to be careful, 'cause I know especially on short tracks I've gotten in more trouble trying to be careful than I did just trying to run my race. And trying to get the positions, race just like I had a 100 point deficit to make up. I think you've got to be smart, you've got to go about it as to how you would want to just go out there and win the race. Certainly they're going to have their work cut out for them, but so is everybody out there in Martinsville. It doesn't matter if you're starting on the front row or the last row, it's a place that can reach out and bite you and keep the fenders on the car is at a premium at this place."

-team monte carlo-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon