Jeff Gordon Takes Pole Position for Chevrolet at Phoenix International Raceway Jeff Gordon -- ...
Jeff Gordon Takes Pole Position for Chevrolet at Phoenix International Raceway
Jeff Gordon -- #24 DuPont Chevrolet
ARE YOU CONFIDENT YOU CAN END YOUR WINLESS STREAK HERE AT PHOENIX?
I'm a whole lot more confident today than I was yesterday. We struggled. I honestly.going into today, I was thinking that no matter where we qualify-because I didn't think it was going to be good-we have a good race car. So, I was confident already in the car for the race, just not in qualifying. So now we're sitting on the pole. I hope our car is as good for the race as I think it is. And I really do, I'm pretty excited about how the car was for the race. I think this is probably, if not one of the best, the best car that we've had here. Not just because we're on the pole but because of the way we ran yesterday for the race. We've had cars capable of winning here before, we just haven't put it all together. So, it certainly doesn't guarantee anything. We're going to out there and give it everything we've got. Going from day to night is a change, an impound race is a change, so there's a lot of unknowns for us. I've never won a pole here either and I've never won a race here. Anything's possible for us right now, here this weekend. Statistics are something that a lot of people live by, but that's not something that I live by or this team. We'd love to break that.
SHOULDN'T A GOOD QUALIFIER DO WELL IN THE RACE? THAT'S NOT ALWAYS THE CASE
Yeah, but if you think about it, it's the exact opposite. If you qualify good, then you should race good. Because, even though you're in your race setup, you're modifying your race setup for qualifying. You know, it depends at where you're at. At a short track I don't think it matters as much. At a bigger place, the better you are in qualifying, the tougher it's going to be in the race. Because, the things that make your car really go fast for qualifying are usually not the same things that make it good for the race. IF you put your car into a race setup, there are certain things you can do for qualifying that might hurt your race setup. And, so that's what makes this so interesting. It's a compromise. There are cars out there right now that didn't qualify well that are going to march to the front and be strong. Because they totally focus on their race and not at all on qualifying. Maybe a team that qualified up front focused more on qualifying than they did on the race. They put their car in a race setup and put their car in a qualifying run. We still make qualifying runs. It's not like we just sit there and make race runs and just put tape on it and go qualify. We do things to the air pressures, we do things to the track bar, the way we tape the car, nose weight; there are a lot of things we can still do that might be a compromise that we think we can get out of it for the race. So, if you think about it, cars that qualify good shouldn't race good.
SO THE IMPOUND MAKES LESS DIFFERENCE THAN WHAT IS COMMONLY THOUGHT?
No, it really just depends on the team. It depends on what the team focuses. If the team focuses solely on the race and throws away qualifying, some guys are still gong to be able to.it's really trying to figure out taking a good race setup-if you've got a good race setup-and how you can make it qualify well. Most of it's through air pressure in the tires. And so, how well you do that is whether or not you'll have a good qualifying car and a good race car. But, if you focus solely on the race and throw tape on it, you're probably not going to qualify well but you might be awesome in the race.
DO YOU AGREE WITH THE SPOILER CHANGES AND THE VIEW FROM MOST DRIVERS THAT THERE SHOULD BE MORE SPOILER ADDED?
If you give us enough time with anything, we're going to adapt to it and make the cars go faster and faster and get more comfortable with it. That's why they should change things, and keep us guessing. You get teams out there that just keep digging. If I want anything I want less spoiler. These guys that are saying they want more, those are guys that haven't been around the sport maybe for a long time and driven the cars when you had the big springs in the front and the small ones in the back. And the cars' balance is so different from when you started the race to where you finished the race. You know, I'm a car owner and a co-co car owner and I see a little bit more of the bigger picture and I've been around the sport long enough to know when there's good racing and when there's not good racing. As a driver, it's tough for you to balance things out. As a driver, you want the best driving car you can, the fastest car, the car that gets out front and takes off and leads the field. But, in reality, we're in a sport that what has made it what it is, is good racing. And lead changes and side by side racing. The more downforce you put into these cars and the faster you make the cars, the more that's going to go away. You're just going to see nose-to-tail, follow-the-leader, Formula 1 type racing on an oval. I think that the tougher you make the cars to drive, the more downforce you take away, the more the tires give up over longer runs, I think the better racing you're going to see. But it is going to make for a handful. To be honest last week, I had my hands full at Texas. I couldn't get the balance, wasn't happy with it and certainly would have loved it had I had more spoiler at Texas. I think that overall I'm pretty happy with the changes and I think they should keep it like this for a while, but if they decide to go any direction, I hope they go in the direction of less and continue to take downforce out of the cars.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE CONSISTENCY FROM WEEK TO WEEK IN THE SCHEDULE?
Yes I would. You know, it's extremely confusing for all of us. It's so nice when you can get into a rhythm. I also think when you have a race on Saturday night, it should be a two-day event. When you have a night race, you have lights and you have a whole day to get in everything. I think they should be two day events for Saturday night race or any night race. I think that it would be really nice. I kind of understand and I've talked to NASCAR a little bit about it. When they decided to do the impound thing, there were certain tracks that had already advertised and done some things as to when they were going to have practice and qualifying, so my expectations are that as the years goes on or going into next year, stick with it. If we're going to impound, let's impound. If we're not going to impound, don't impound. Let's not do it one way one week and the next another way.
NO POLE WINNER HAS WON HERE. WHAT MAKES THIS TRACK DIFFERENT?
Well, I think there are other statistics that show going into the last pit stop, the leader didn't win the race either. Because it's the type of track where you can two tire. We got beat here one time in one of the best cars that I've ever had here and we were in a great position. We took four, somebody else took two and we lost the race. I don't know really why it would be like that with the pole sitter. This being an impound race, it's going to make things very interesting. Going from day to night. All the statistics you've had in the past you can throw out because just the night race itself and the impound will change things dramatically. All I know is that I had a good car for the race yesterday and I hope I have a good one for the race tomorrow. I'm sitting here shocked that we're on the pole.
PROBLEMS AT TEXAS WITH WATER SEEPING THROUGH THE GROUND?
I don't know about water seeping through the ground but there's a tunnel that goes in between one and two and anytime you have a tunnel, you're going to have a bump. I've seen very few tracks that have a tunnel and not have a bump. Actually, here is probably one of the few race tracks I've seen where they've put a tunnel in the corner that's smooth as glass. They did an excellent job with it here. So, that bump to me, I don't know if it had anything to do with drainage between the tunnel and the race track. But there is a huge bump down there in the middle of one and two, from the bottom all the way to the top. It certainly made it difficult to get any type of outside groove working. I mean, if they do something with that race track, I think it would be a perfect variable banking race track. I think they could go there and increase the banking of the race track from the bottom to the top. That place would be spectacular.
They've been spectacular and really, really strong. They've been good enough to win more races than just the two he's won. Roush themselves have what appears to be a great program with a lot of their cars, not all of them. There's really no surprise. I think that if you look at what Greg's been driving for the past several years, from the Busch Series to now, the setup he's running are the same from what he was running in the Busch Series. Really, really big rear springs. Getting the attitude of the car to make as much downforce in the cars and it's really paying off for them. They've been working on it for a long time and he's comfortable with it and it's working. There's really no magic to putting a fast race car out there. It's getting the combination that's best for the driver and the car and I think they have it right now.
AFTER A ROUGH DAY AT TEXAS, DO YOU FEEL YOU NOW HAVE INFORMATION YOU CAN USE FOR THE LATER RACE THERE IN THE SEASON?
Oh yeah. Even yesterday we got to the track and we were talking to different crew chiefs and our teammates and throughout the garage. Talking about what we're doing, what our car is doing. On that search to figure out when you're at a track, what you can do to do better when you go back there. Chances are we'll probably have a new race car built when we go back there. Whether or not we're going to test there will be an option. But, we weren't even a 15th place car and finished 15th, so we felt fortunate to finish there. We know we've got some work to do when we go back there. Texas is a tricky place and it's really an uncomfortable race track with the transitions, the speed you're carrying through the corner, the tightness of the exits and the transitions off the corner. I think we learned some things by watching the #16 car. The attitude of the car, me racing around him. Well, at least one time, I think I saw him for about five seconds. You take all you can from that information and see what you can do better when you come back next time.
YOU WERE SHOCKED TO WIN THE POLE, HOW DO YOU THINK YOU'LL RACE?
Well, the funny thing is that I went into qualifying thinking that we had a great race car. And, hoping that we could put a decent lap out there. I was honestly hoping to qualify about 20th and hoping to have a good race car. The conditions changed. We made adjustments and the car was really tight and we freed it up. It did the things that we wanted it to do. You go into every qualifying event to get the pole and put your best qualifying effort out there. And I do the same thing every weekend whether my car is the fastest in practice or the slowest in practice. You know, we don't stop trying to make it better until that car rolls off pit road. And when it rolls off pit road, I sit there and get ready to put the car on the pole. You drive in that first corner and wait for it to give you the feedback. And when it gives you the feedback, it's either good or bad. And you take what you can out of that and make something out of it. Today it just happened to give me the right feedback.
YOU HAVEN'T WON HERE BUT IN A WAY THIS IS SORT OF AN INAUGURAL EVENT AND YOU DO WELL IN THOSE
Yeah, I've never looked at inaugural events that we go in there and win because it's an inaugural event. We win races because we're prepared and we put good race cars out there. We work well as a team. Some weeks that works well, some weeks it doesn't. It's happened to be a good thing for us on inaugural events. I like night races in general, so I'm excited about the night race here. I just think that it's the first time we haven't tested before we've come here and we put a fairly good body on an older car and I'm liking it. It just feels good. So, we'd love to change statistics. Definitely we'd love to do that. Every time you go to a track you haven't won at, you hear that and it's all you talk about. And I'd love more than anything to change that.
WHAT WERE THE TRACK CONDITIONS LIKE TODAY?
I noticed a much bigger change in conditions. We started practicing at 3:00 and ended at almost 7:30. We were all expecting the track to get really fast as we went into the night. It didn't. It got really slick. It was really weird. It was throwing a lot of us off. It really made us scratch our heads. We put our car up on scales yesterday thinking something was wrong. Some adjustment we made had the car going the opposite way because the car felt so bad. And heard that out of a lot of guys as well. Today with the overcast, the track was really grippy and fast. I went almost a second faster today than I went yesterday, so that tells you something right there. Overcast is the best condition we could ask for. When the sun is out and we go into nighttime, that's the toughest conditions. I didn't really notice today other than it was...I don't think they changed much. I think it stayed pretty consistent throughout the day today but much different from yesterday.