ROBBY GORDON, NO. 31 CINGULAR CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: PRESS CONFERENCE: NOTE: Sunday's victory in the Dodge/Save Mart 350 was Robby Gordon's second career NASCAR Winston Cup victory and it came in his 114th career start. His first victory came at...
ROBBY GORDON, NO. 31 CINGULAR CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: PRESS CONFERENCE:
NOTE: Sunday's victory in the Dodge/Save Mart 350 was Robby Gordon's second career NASCAR Winston Cup victory and it came in his 114th career start. His first victory came at New Hampshire International Speedway in November 2001, 52 races ago. He is the 13th different race winner in 16 races this season, and his victory is Chevrolet's eighth of the season. He led 81 of the 110 laps and vaulted from 16th to 13th in series points.
YOU'VE SAID YOU LET ONE SLIP AWAY HERE IN 2001, BUT YOU DIDN'T LET THIS ONE SLIP AWAY.
"I'm going to date it all the way back to 2000. We've been the quickest car since about then, and we haven't pulled the car into Victory Lane. In 2001, we came real close, and then last year, I was running second to Tony [Stewart] and we stuck with Tony's strategy and we knew at that point that we made a mistake we were never going to be able to recover from and we finished 11th. Track position is key here, and we had to use every obstacle we could to gain as much track position as we could and our fuel mileage to make it run full distance."
YOU SAID YOU HAD A PLAN YOU WERE GOING TO EXECUTE. HOW DID THAT GO?
"Our plan was to come in between laps 26 and 36, to make our first stop. We dictated our stops under green strategy and we didn't come in under any yellows. We knew that would take us to lap 68, and if we could get to lap 68 and be the first car on the road we could run from there home. We lived by that strategy and that paid off for us. We just had a really good car all day long."
JEFF GORDON SAID THAT YOU WON THIS ONE BY PASSING KEVIN HARVICK UNDER YELLOW.
"I sat and asked [NASCAR], and it was very obvious in the driver's meeting today, I asked 'are you sure we can pass under the yellow?' They said, 'yeah, you can race back to the line, just like every weekend.' Kevin Harvick may be mad at me, but it is what it is. To be honest with you, when he got by me, he wasn't going to make the corner if I didn't move out of the way. He would have wrecked me. Ron Fellows got under both of us there. He took a shot at risking it, and I paid him back under a caution."
YOU HIT THE TIRE BARRIER UP THERE. WHAT HAPPENED?
"I was just using the whole race track. I knew that was foam and I knew it wasn't going to hurt me. The biggest thing here is we had to save our tires and pace ourselves. I actually paced myself off Jeff Gordon. There was no damage, other than a little wrinkle on the left front. On a road course, we don't go fast enough to make much downforce difference. Every lap I tried to miss it [the barrier] by an inch, and I was an inch off one time."
JEFF GORDON CALLED YOUR MOVE RIDICULOUS.
"You really think I care what Jeff Gordon says, honestly? The guy has won enough races. I don't know why he's so sore about it. I guess he doesn't like it when someone comes in and rans on his parade a little bit."
DID YOU ALMOST FEEL THAT THIS WAS YOUR RACE TO LOSE?
"Not only here, we've been strong many times this year. The team has been good and we were in the top 10 a couple weeks ago. We knew if we put back the last couple of weeks, we could probably jump ourselves back up toward the front again. We knew we needed to come here--I think I said it three weeks ago in Charlotte--we were going to come here and score maximum points. That was our game plan. We just missed it by one spot in qualifying back to the flag."
TALK A LITTLE MORE ABOUT RACING BACK TO THE YELLOW FLAG.
"Jeff Gordon sat in the same driver's meeting I did. I asked the question three times and disrupted the driver's meeting because I wanted to make sure I understood exactly what they were saying. They said, 'under waving yellow, you can race back to the line until you take the yellow. After you take the yellow at the start/finish line, that's what it is.' I can't help that I understood exactly what the rules were and took advantage of it. Racing here at Sonoma, it's very hard to pass. You hear about on all the ovals the aero push, and you get it here too. I knew if I could get track position, we were definitely going to be the car to beat. If Jeff was so mad at me, why didn't he spin me out?"
ON THE RADIO DURING THE RACE, YOU SAID YOU THOUGHT YOU HAD A TIRE GOING DOWN. WHAT REALLY HAPPENED WITH THAT?
"I got a little nervous, because under the caution, we were conserving as much fuel as possible because we stuck to our lap-68 plan. I didn't scuff my tires because it takes energy to scuff tires. So I probably got some buildup on my tires and it just slid around for two or three laps on the tires. The key was, I didn't want to run out of fuel later, and I probably should have scuffed them a couple of turns before we went back to green. But I thought that saving fuel was more important at that point."
JEFF GORDON SAID YOU WERE ALL OVER THE PLACE ONCE YOU TOOK THE LEAD. WHAT IS YOUR THOUGHT?
"Like I said, I paced myself off Jeff's front bumper. It really bums me out that he's sore about it. He has no reason; it has nothing to do with him. He obviously didn't see what happened between Kevin and me earlier, so I don't know why he's sore about that one. What I did after that point was dictate how close I was going to let Jeff Gordon get to me. One time, he got an opportunity to get down to me in Turn 11, and from that point on I paced off his front bumper with my rear bumper. I didn't have to run any harder than we needed to to win the race."
HOW ABOUT DOWN HERE WHEN YOU WENT FROM FIRST TO THIRD?
"When Kevin outbraked me going into Turn 1, if I wouldn't have moved out of the way, we both would have wrecked. There was no way he was going to hit the apex of the corner. I don't know why he should be sore at me passing him back, because I thought that was a little bit of a cheap shot earlier, especially since we were teammates. To be honest, I was in ride mode. Richard [team owner Richard Childress] had just got off the radio and said, 'OK, Kevin is going to ride right behind you and race with you, race you clean. Protect the inside and be good to go.' I wasn't anticipating him taking a shot and diving down the inside. When he dove down the inside of me, Ron Fellows got by both of us. So I don't see why Jeff Gordon should be disappointed about this issue. It had nothing to do with Jeff Gordon."
IS THERE ANYTHING THAT NASCAR CAN DO TO MAKE THIS ISSUE LESS OF A GRAY AREA?
"I asked it three times in the meeting today. I laughed when they said this is the way the rules are. I said, 'OK, are you guys sure?' I knew I was going to use it to my advantage. He said it's always been that way and you can race back as much as you want."
JEFF WAS PRETTY MUCH ON YOUR BUMPER FOR THE LAST 15 LAPS. WAS HE MAKING YOU RUN A LITTLE FASTER THAN YOU WANTED TO?
"I actually backed my car up to his front bumper, because what I didn't know was, at the pace we were running, if he was saving his tires and was going to make a last-lap run at me. I paced off his front bumper. I knew if I kept about three or four car lengths between us going into the hairpin, there was no way he could actually get to my bumper and knock me loose going into Turn 11."
HOW NICE WAS IT TO GIVE KEVIN HAMLIN SUCH A WONDERFUL ANNIVERSARY GIFT?
"It was great. Kevin has been working real hard getting this program turned around. He's had some stressful times the last couple of years, and it's just great that I could put a car in Victory Lane for the second time this year with him and prove that he's still a good crew chief. What Kevin has been doing is, he's been allowing Chris Andrews, my engineer, and myself to get a little bit on the wild side as far as setups and his experience keeps us back inside the lines. The three of us have been working real well on getting involved in the car and he had a plan this weekend where he let me and Chris worry about the setup on the car and he would worry more about how the strategy was going to work out and help us in that fashion. I think it really worked out well. If we continue in this direction, we're all going to be in real good shape."
WHAT IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH JEFF GORDON AFTER THIS?
"I'm cool with Jeff. I have no idea why Jeff would even comment on the issue because it had nothing to do with him. If I had passed Jeff Gordon under the caution, I could see why he might be concerned. As far as I'm concerned, he should mind his own business."
WILL YOU HAVE A DISCUSSION WITH HIM?
"He's not big enough to have a discussion with me."