Richmond: Pole winner interview

Press Conference with Pole Winner Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Impala SS ON HIS QUALIFYING RUN: "I knew that was a really good lap but I just felt like the track had picked up and we were going to get shuffled back like what happens typically as...

Press Conference with Pole Winner Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Impala SS

ON HIS QUALIFYING RUN:

"I knew that was a really good lap but I just felt like the track had picked up and we were going to get shuffled back like what happens typically as the track cools down. We drew an early number and I really thought some good cars going out late were going to knock off us that pole and I wasn't sure how far we might get knocked back. Obviously it was a better lap than I even though it was. I'm just kind of blown away right now, the kind of role that we're on and the things that are going on. In practice we made a couple of qualifying runs and they weren't very pretty. We made some when we were here testing. I wasn't too happy with them. I told Steve what I thought we needed. He made some great adjustments and the car did everything that I wanted it to do so obviously a great effort by the whole team and here we are sitting on another pole."

WILL IT MAKE IT EASIER TO WIN TOMORROW UNDER THE LIGHTS STARTING FROM THE POLE?

"It's never easy to win, having number one pit stall always is a help especially on a short track with track position being important, trying to stay out trouble in the pits because the pits can get tight and narrow and you can get into one another. That's certainly an advantage we're going to try to capitalize on that. You know we've qualified good here even when we've been running bad here the last four times that we've been here or however many times that we've run bad. We've still qualified good and still didn't perform in the race so none of these things guarantee anything but I will say that I feel like we've got a lot of issued resolved that we struggle with to put us further in the back when we didn't run good and I hope we're able to show that tomorrow night. We'll see."

CAN YOU ATTRIBUTE ANY OF YOUR RECENT SUCCESS TO YOUR NEW ENERGY DRINK?

"That's what I'm talking about Mike. Thanks for working with me. I don't know what it is all I know is everything I'm doing I'm not going to stop doing it and I have been drinking the energy drink. We've been on some good rolls over the years. It's been a long time obviously and as competitive as the series is today, it just does surprise me when anybody gets on this type of a roll and I don't know how to describe it or explain it. When things are working with you and going your way and you're putting quality race cars and race teams out there, it's possible and we're proving that right now to ourselves even."

ARE YOU SURPRISED THAT YOU'VE BEEN ABLE TO GO FROM MONTE CARLO SS TO IMPALA SS AND CONTINUE YOUR SUCCESS?

"I felt like from the first time I drove the Impala I felt like we had one of the best ones out there. I felt like the development we put into.We almost had a totally separate race team of people working on this car while it was being built and developed and I feel like a lot of credit goes to those guys and the laps that they ran, the tracks and the work they've put into it and trying to find out what it was going to take for this car to be competitive and then that gave us a great starting point for us to take it to the next level. While that was going on, we were working from the last 10 races of last year over the off-season on the Monte Carlo to make it better and we did. It made it better in all the different areas. I think the Car of Tomorrow fits my driving style a little bit more than even the current car but we've done our homework as well. That's certainly paying off. I'm not saying nobody else is doing their homework but sometimes you go in a direction and if that direction pans out then you're going to have success and that's what I'm seeing right is the direction we've been working towards is really working for us and it was the right direction."

ON BEING ONE OF FEW PEOPLE TO WIN FOUR IN A ROW AND POSSIBLY BEING THE ONLY ONE TO DO IT TWICE IF HE WINS TWO MORE:

"It seems unrealistic to me to be a part of it. Maybe it might look easy from the outside or it might look like Gordon's on the pole again, no big surprise. It is a surprise to me and this race team. We're out there working.When you watch us in practice and the lap times, we're getting everything out of it that we possibly can and we're getting everything out of it that we possibly can when it comes time to put the lap down on the clock as well.

"We've got to get through a whole lot more than that before we can talk about that. Let's get through three. I'd like to be sitting here Saturday night talking to you guys about that, what it'd be like try to go for four. Even then I probably wouldn't talk about it. You've got to get to three before you can get to four. I know what you're saying. When we're on a roll.and I think that it's the combination that we have. We are capable when the right ingredients are there. You look at Hendrick Motorsports and their resources and when this team gets the chemistry together and I feel like I'm at my best right, we're very capable of putting some streaks together and we've shown that in the past and we're showing it right now. I don't like to talk about what could of our should of or might happen, but certainly what we're doing right now is impressive.

ON GOING TO DARLINGTON:

"I love Darlington. I'm going to love it no matter what car we take there but I will say it's going to have some real challenges. Sitting on the pole is going to be pretty important there. I think that it's going to be tough to pass there. I don't think you're going to want to run behind cars because it's hard enough to stay out of the wall by yourself there let alone when there's aerodynamics being taken away from you. I'm really curious to see how that goes."

ON THE CHARLOTTE TEST AND USING A NEW 17-GALLON TANK AND THE TIRES ARE THE SAME THAT HE RAN THERE WITH LAST MAY:

"Hallelujah. I'm not a fan of small fuel cells. I'm not saying I'm crazy about the tire. I felt like the tire was too hard the last time we were there so I wouldn't be surprised if it's still probably way too hard. At least we had some consistency in what we were going to be taking to the race track. That's kind of nice. It just blows me away when we have a tire issue and we ask Goodyear to go build a tire that can withstand the heat and some of the stress that we put on the tire and then NASCAR goes and makes a smaller fuel on top of that. I think it's pick one. Do one thing or the other, don't do both. I'm glad we're going to have our regular fuel cell that we're running now and I'll only be able to tell you about the tires and the car once we get through that first day of testing."

AFTER TALLADEGA WAS THERE A SPECIAL CONGRATULATORY WISH THAT STOOD OUT?

"I probably had more after the 76 and tying Dale than I did last week. After Phoenix I even had other competitors congratulate me. This past week I didn't have many competitors congratulate me. Maybe they're just not happy about it that we won two in a row. I don't know. I think the big mark and the big number was getting to 76 and tying Dale. I can't think of one that really stuck out. To me just knowing we've done this at Hendrick Motorsports throughout my whole career, every win I've ever had is there with Rick and it's great to have him in victory lane there in Talladega for 77. That was very special. Once things calm down a little bit, talking to him about winning that many races and the accomplishments that we've had. It's pretty cool to reminisce a little bit with him. I spent a little bit of time in the office this week as well talking to my stepfather. We can go way, way back and he's got much better memory than I do so he can talk about some pretty cool things that happened way before I got into a stock car. So I would say those two probably stood out the most."

WHAT ELSE FROM THE TEST LAST MONTH DID YOU FIND BESIDES BRAKE ISSUES THAT HELPED TODAY?

"Well I talk about the resources that we have at Hendrick Motorsports and it's all about reading data. The biggest reasons why we want to come to a race track or go to as many tracks as we can is to get that data, take it back to the shop, dissect it and just start throwing everything we can at it to maximize performance, aerodynamics and also our mechanical grip and the chassis. We've got a seven post rig test machine now in our facility. Last year was about getting it put in and then trying to figure out how to utilize the information that we get from it. I think now it's really starting to pay off for us. If you look at Childress' success I would say that that contributes to one of the main reasons that they stepped up so much last year was because they were one of the first teams to have that seven post rig machine in their facility. Now we have one and we're running it quite a bit and learning a lot from it. Those resources, that and others, is what's putting us in the position that we're in now by just really understand that information that we get from those tests and the driver comments and going back trying to figure out how to fix, how to make it better and since we don't have a test track those things are the closest thing that we have to actually running the car on the track and we're learning from it and obviously making big gains from it."

ARE YOU A FAN OF THE CAR OF TOMORROW?

"My feelings are that we ran well with it from the beginning at some of the tests. I think a lot of people thought I was complaining about it because I wasn't going to run good in it and that wasn't the case at all. It was quite the opposite. We were running really strong with it right from the beginning. My concerns are mile-and-a-half race tracks and we'll only find out when we get to a mile-and-a-half race track. We might find a little bit out in Darlington but you're never going to sell me on the way it looks. It is what it is. The aerodynamic philosophy and package that it has, not bad. The high roll center this car has, not crazy about it. And the way it looks, not crazy about it. That might seem like a silly thing but when you driver a race car you want to look cool and I feel like there's got to be a way to get the same aerodynamics characteristics and still have it look sleek and more Car of the Tomorrow."

ON IT BEING TOUGH BEING TO WIN A POLE HERE WITH AN EARLY QUALIFYING DRAW AND IF THE CAR OF TOMORROW IS CHANGING THAT?

"Well I'll even tell you, one of the problems I was having in practice getting ready for qualifying, I just couldn't get any heat in the tires on the first lap. So I don't know if as the track got cooler that made it harder for some guys to get the heat in the tires and maybe it wasn't coming in as good. I do know that we caught a really good cloud just before I went out that may have equalized the conditions but I still did expect guys to go faster than what we did. Obviously we laid down a good lap and it was just up to those guys to knock off and I'm still sitting here shocked that nobody did."

ON WEARING THE VIRGINIA TECH HAT AND NASCAR RALLYING BEHIND VIRGINIA TECH:

"Well we've got some guys that work at Hendrick Motorsports that graduated from Virginia Tech, just knowing that and I think this whole racing community, the way that they rally behind tragedy and support folks out there that are dealing with tragedy or dealing with our own group with tragedy is pretty amazing. And then of course the guy that came to Talladega that stood up in the drivers meeting and talked about the support that we're giving and how much they appreciate it, I knew that this weekend was going to be big being here in Virginia to be able to show our support. I'm just proud to be able to do it and doing anything we can to support them and show them that we're behind them and hope that they can get back to some kind of normality soon."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon
Teams Hendrick Motorsports