Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Dupont Chevrolet Monte Carlo (finished 28th): "I got into a guy on pit road and it bent the left front fender up a little bit. It's just like Charlotte earlier in May, it just ruined our day. It put us back in the back. We...
Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Dupont Chevrolet Monte Carlo (finished 28th):
"I got into a guy on pit road and it bent the left front fender up a little bit. It's just like Charlotte earlier in May, it just ruined our day. It put us back in the back. We fixed the fender but the car was just never the same. It's a shame because we really had something for them - especially on the long runs. This race turned out pretty crazy. (Tony) Stewart was dominating that one part of the race and I really thought it was his to lose. And then the Dodges got their act back together. You know, they stayed up front all day. They had good track position. I really want to congratulate Ray Evernham and Bill Elliott and that whole team. I think the world of Ray and it's great to see him in Victory Lane.
"The way the guys drive back there is a lot different. They're just battling real hard for every spot and you just get bumped and banged around a lot. You just can't make your way to the front. And then we just got so loose I don't know if it was the track or whether it was that fender."
On not clinching the championship at Homestead: "Clinching it early is not my goal. My goal is to win the championship and win races. I'm just disappointed that we had such a good car and such a good run going and we lost that valuable track position. It's really my fault. We had trouble with the No. 31 (Jeff Green) car all day long with the way they were pitting. I just couldn't get out and get around him and it was stalling me up when I took off and that one stalled me a little bit more and I got in the outside of him and he came up and we just got together."
Was there a lot of bumping going on out there? "Yeah, and I'm trying to stay away from some of that stuff but it's impossible. No disrespect to this speedway, but it's not what we want to be at racing. It's no fun for the drivers. I doubt whether the fans think it's a lot of fun. It's a great win for Ray Evernham and Bill Elliott, and they were due. But that type of race track doesn't make for much fun out there."
On the crew members that were injured in a pit road incident: "I saw it right before I cam out and if I had to comment at all, I'd just wish those guys were wearing helmets. I wish all of our guys were wearing helmets. Accidents are going to happen. You can't control when a guy gets knocked into somebody accidentally. But you can prevent head some injuries with helmets. I'm going to talk to my guys about it. You know, we get back into this 'mandatory' thing, which is a whole new thing there. But what happens is that one team has an advantage another team if one doesn't feel comfortable with it. So I want to get the guys comfortable. I'd love to see them have it because I don't want to see that happen to anybody out there."
Did your car have an aerodynamic problem after the hit on pit road? "It did originally, but we cam in and fixed it and it was better. I was just so loose sitting back there in the back. And then we short-pitted and it was just another one of those days. You don't want to have those days back to back. But we were running so good at the beginning of the race. That was very promising to us here at Homestead. We were closing in on those guys. As unlucky as we were today, we were still pretty lucky because a couple of other guys didn't have good runs either."
Was this run easier to take than last week's run? "Yeah, because we were pretty good today. Last week, we were never good. We were just junk from the second they dropped the green."
Michael Waltrip, No. 15 NAPA Chevrolet Monte Carlo (finished 2nd):
"You can't beat downforce and handling and thanks to the guys at DEI (Dale Earnhardt Inc.) I have that.
"We did everything we could do to finish second. I was real disappointed when they said, 'Go' on that last restart and Casey (Atwood) and Bill (Elliott) and Jeff (Green) were able to get so far out ahead of me. We had to deal with a couple of lapped cars and they were very cordial, but still - it cost us. I knew I had the best car. But when I saw them get that far ahead I knew my chances of winning were pretty much done. And then when I saw Bill close in on Casey, I hoped maybe they would race (each other) hard enough that we could catch back up. But that didn't happen. Bill cleared him quickly and Casey was pretty much done because I was able to get him too."
You said you would trade a plate race win for a top five at a track like this. Can you comment on that? "This is the one that I've been the worst on. I think if you look at the finishing order last year, I beat one car that ran all the laps. I ran 261 laps and I beat one car. And I was six laps down. I know I know what I'm doing and I could never figure out why it turned out that way all the time. But I'm real thankful for this team. They do a real nice job with our bodies. And a track like this is all about aerodynamics and downforce. You don't have any banking to grip your car, so you need your body to help you all you can. And we have nice bodies. This is a big deal for me to run second."
Did the Busch race help you out at all? "The Busch race helped me a lot. Bobby Kennedy and my entire Busch team deserve a lot of credit. We put a set-up under our car that was just like the Cup car. We trade stuff back and forth. We proved yesterday that the Busch car was the way it needed to be and that gave us a lot of confidence going into today.
"They've really made my Fall with the Busch team a lot of fun. Everything is just going real good. Our best finish has been 18th at Charlotte, but so many things have happened that have screwed us up. That wasn't indicative of our times and our performances during the races. But you've got to get a finish every now and then to convince people you're on the right track. Today was a great day. We kept getting our brains beat in by two tires. We finally said we've got to get two tires to get up front. And when we did that, we had a good enough car to stay up front. We didn't use the two tires as a crutch just to run up front, we used it to get up front and to stay there."
What happened with the Busch car? "I wrecked my Busch car on the first stop. The rear end broke and it just turned me around immediately. I wasn't even up to speed yet. That was terrible. We unloaded our back-up car and it's the same back-up car we raced at Charlotte because wrecked in Happy Hour. I knew in final practice for this race, I knew it was good. It was handling the way it needed to be.
"With the Cup car was cool. We just kept making it better. We qualified eighth. We really did a nice job with both cars this weekend and I'm really proud of everybody."
Is this a big win for Bill Elliott? "I grew up watching Bill race. To run second to him is pretty cool. I was just hoping that he and Casey would have a bigger battle so I could get up there and run with them. Ray Evernham is obviously a smart man when it comes to racecars. But I question his decision-making when it comes to his drivers because this cat beside me (Casey Atwood) is going to be a superstar. Why he's having to go through this right now just flips me out."
Kenny Wallace, No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo:
"We got ourselves in trouble there by going a lap down with a bad pit stop. I think the jack slipped or something. And then we were able to get that lap back, which was big for us. We just kept working on the car. The car was tight all day long. But we finally got it running pretty good there at the end. Rusty (Wallace) just wouldn't let me by. I couldn't get by. But that's what you have to expect. So 14th was pretty good considering all we've been through today."
-Team Monte Carlo-