JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO (finished 3rd) "My pride is crushed for not winning today. Unfortunately we came up a little bit short. Those two tires were the way to go. We got caught back there in traffic and lapped cars and...
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO (finished 3rd)
"My pride is crushed for not winning today. Unfortunately we came up a little bit short. Those two tires were the way to go. We got caught back there in traffic and lapped cars and we just couldn't get through there. I think I just wore all my stuff out trying to catch the No. 97 (Kurt Busch) and the No. 2 (Rusty Wallace). It was a great effort for us. I'm real happy with everything that went on this week - we qualified fourth and came home third. I'm real happy with that effort for the DuPont Chevrolet team.
"All in all, it was a great day for us to come home third. That is our best finish here. It was by far our best effort. As strong as we were, I'm happy about that. We just made a mistake there at the end. We took four (tires) and should have taken two. It wasn't anybody's fault. Robbie (Loomis) wanted four and I wanted four. We went with it and came out fourth. I was hoping we could beat the No. 97 (Kurt Busch). I we could have beaten the No. 97, maybe we could have gotten by Rusty (Wallace) quick and then maybe made a run on Matt (Kenseth). But when you come out fourth, you're actually coming out eighth. You get a couple of lapped cars that battle with you, and you're done. Matt was a straight-away ahead before we ever got clear of the lapped cars."
ON BEING SIXTH PLACE IN THE POINTS, BUT 9 POINTS OUT OF THIRD:
"That's cool. That's what we want to do. We want to wind the season down by having great strong runs and going places that we haven't been real strong at or haven't had a chance to win at and be a threat. We certainly were a threat today. I'm happy about that. We're going to take this car to Homestead next weekend and hopefully have some great things there too and maybe get up to third."
WHAT DO YOU SEE IN THE ROUSH CAMP THAT HAS MADE THEM SO SUCCESSFUL LATELY?
"Today was just a great a call by Matt (Kenseth) and Robby (Riser, crew chief). Taking those two tires and having a good pit stop was a good two-tire stop. That's what won the race for them. I was better than Matt all day long. Why is the No. 97 (Kurt Busch) been as strong as they have and why has Matt been as strong as they have all year long? I don't know. They've got a good package and obviously do good things with their bodies. By making smart good calls like they did today is going to win you some races."
WAS AERO-PUSH A BIG FACTOR IN THE RACE TODAY?
"I didn't fight aero-push as much as I did track position. It's not an easy place to pass. It's never been an easy place to pass. I could get up beside guys and outside them or inside them - there was more than one groove and I liked that. But I just couldn't make the pass stick or get by them. I'd battle for like five or six laps with a guy. When you run side-by-side here and those guys just check you out. That's what happened. Every time I'd go to pass somebody, they'd race me hard - which they should - and Kenseth was just out there in clean air just driving away. I definitely think there's still a lot to be said about clean air. But I didn't feel the aero-push quite so much today."
WITH THE WINSTON CUP CHAMPIONSHIP GOING DOWN TO THE LAST RACE FOR THE FIRST TIME IN SEVERAL YEARS, WHAT'S THE WEEK GOING TO BE LIKE FOR MARK MARTIN AND TONY STEWART - 89 POINTS SEPARATE THEM
"That's pretty tight. Tony (Stewart) did he what he needed to do. Mark (Martin) did all he could do other than win. As long as Tony does that, he's in the right seat. I guess what's going to make you nervous all day in that race (Homestead) is if you hear a little vibration or feel a little vibration or you hear a different pitch in the motor, you're going to be wondering. It just comes down to whether or not Tony (Stewart) has a problem or a failure. I don't think at Homestead you're going to outrun him good enough to close that gap. He runs too good here (Phoenix) and there (Homestead). I think that by just beating him on the track is not going to do it. I think the only way Mark (Martin) is going to win - and I think Mark knows that - is if Tony has some kind of major problem."
IS TODAY'S CLEAN RACE A PREDICTOR FOR A CLEAN RACE OR A TOUGH RACE AT HOMESTEAD NEXT WEEK?
"It's a little harder to pass at Homestead than it is here (Phoenix). This is a tough place to pass, but at least you have an outside groove here. At Homestead, you pretty much have the apron and that's about it. Any place we go to where it's tough to pass, you typically see more cautions because guys get more frustrated and they start using their bumpers."
EVEN THOUGH MARK MARTIN AND TONY STEWART GUARANTEED A SPOT IN THE FIELD AT HOMESTEAD, IS FRIDAY'S QUALIFYING SESSION GOING TO BE PRETTY TENSE FOR THEM?
"They're both the two fiercest competitors that I know of out there. And those guys - every time they're on the track whether it's qualifying or practice or the race - they're putting everything they can into it and it's intense every weekend. So, I don't really see that as being the crucial day. This week, if I were Tony, I wouldn't open up a newspaper. I wouldn't watch TV. I'd go away and maybe spend some time with my team and pump them up. And I'd just go to Homestead and run my race. That's what I would do if I were him.
"Mark has been there so many times he knows what to do. He knows he's going to do all he can and the results will be what they will."
WITH A LOT ON THE LINE NEXT WEEK FOR EVERYBODY, IS THERE AN UNWRITTEN RULE TO HANDLE TONY STEWART AND MARK MARTIN WITH KID GLOVES?
"Absolutely. Those guys have worked hard all year long to get into that position. I don't have a shot at either one of them in the points from where I'm sitting. I have the utmost respect for those guys. I'm going to race for a win. If they want to battle me hard and race for a win, they're putting themselves in a little bit of jeopardy. So I think they need to think a little bit about it at the same time. But I'm going to do everything I can to race them clean. If they're racing one another, I'll give them the respect that they deserve to race for a championship. You'd hate to see a championship taken away from a guy because somebody just gets into them and turns them around and knocks them out of the race. I don't want to see that person. I don't think anybody does."