Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Dupont Chevrolet Monte Carlo -- 1st in Happy Hour session ...
Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Dupont Chevrolet Monte Carlo -- 1st in Happy Hour session #1:
On the fact that there were only two Chevrolets in the top 19:
"The track is certainly changing conditions right now and if you didn't get a good clean lap early on, then you weren't going to put any good laps up there. Our car feels pretty good. I definitely see a difference in the Dodges. They're much more competitive, so that's playing a role. But then I don't know if everybody is showing what they've got so far today compared to what they're going to have tomorrow."
With the new schedule of running a second Happy Hour session after the Busch race, do you expect the track to be much different?
"Usually the track does change a little bit. I'm not sure what direction it will go. I'm hoping that the conditions are more like they are going to be tomorrow because if not, I'm going to be pretty upset that we waited until after the Busch race to have another practice. I'm not a big fan of that."
Is MIS a track that we can expect to see the Dodges improve as a result of the rule change?
"What happens when you change your body like that and you push the nose out, it takes time to find the balance of what it really needs. If they find it tomorrow, this, to me, is a place where they really can win. Again, it takes the whole package (to win) and I think that's why we've been able to do so much with our Chevrolet this year - maybe more so than some other Chevrolets - is because we've got such a good package with our pit crew, our communication between Robbie (Loomis) and our whole entire team and our preparation going into the races. If you don't have all those things, you're not going to win - no matter how much front downforce you've got. But it they find the balance and if they put the package together, this is the place where I think they'll really shine.
"The Fords do run real well here and the ones that run well make a lot of horsepower and really get down the straightaway. But I think our motor program is as strong as it's ever been and I think that's really helping us out at a place like this. But, we've always run well here. I like this track, I'm comfortable with it, and always feel good that when they drop the green we're going to be a factor. But we've got two races going on right now. We're trying to win this race and we're trying to win that championship. We're going to try as hard as we can to put that car up front, but we're also going to be looking at the big picture."
No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo - was 4th fast in Happy
Hour session #1:
"We're decent; we're just tight. I think everybody's fighting (being) tight. We're just continuing to work on what we need to get this Chevrolet to turn real good. We've made some gains on it. Yesterday, we started off in one direction, but with about a half-hour left of practice, we decided that wasn't going to work and had to shift gears and go into something we'd run here before. So, it didn't surprise me that qualifying didn't go that well (starts 27th). But we've got a good racecar."
Will the additional Happy Hour session after the Busch race help you?
"We've always had this much practice, it just used to be on top of each other. So now they're going to have it after the Busch race. I'm in agreement that we need time in between one practice and another because we can all think about what we need to do to get ready for the final practice. Guys switch motors out and stuff. But after the Busch race? That just keeps us here all day again. So I have mixed reviews on that. But after the Busch race, I think the track will be closer to what it's going to be on Sunday."
Do you see a difference in the Dodges so far this weekend?
"I think the rule change at Indy didn't show up as helpful for them because it got sprung on them at the last minute and they didn't have a change to go to the wind tunnel and test. Just adding two inches, kicking it out two inches after they got done testing, might have thrown them a little bit of a curve ball. Now they've all had time to be in the wind tunnel and see what that will actually do to their cars and then help balance the rest of it out. But without a doubt, Michigan is a place where a two-inch kickout is going to be an advantage. Typically this has been a Ford track and now the Dodges are just Fords with a two-inch kickout. So now they're even better than the Fords. I hate to think that it's putting us at a disadvantage. But by giving them an aero advantage like that is definitely going to make us work harder to try to win the race. They've got to have a whole package -- you need to have a good race team behind you. It's not going to be easy for them, but every bit definitely helps. If they're close to the front toward the end of the race, they're going to be hard to beat."
What will you concentrate on the most to get a win on Sunday?
"Just getting out in front. At Indy, I really thought we had a car capable of winning the race. But we kind of stubbed our toe there at the end and got too far back to make a run for the win. We don't want to do the same thing here. We want to get through that last pit stop and be somewhere in the top five so we can go on and win this thing."