JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT/ NATIONAL GUARD GED PLUS ONE IMPALA SS, RACE WINNER: YOU'VE HAD CLOSE CALL HERE, YOU'VE HAD HARD KNOCKS HERE, WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE TO PULL INTO VICTORY LANE ON YOUR 17TH ATTEMPT AT TEXAS? "Well first I want to say hi...
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT/ NATIONAL GUARD GED PLUS ONE IMPALA SS, RACE WINNER:
YOU'VE HAD CLOSE CALL HERE, YOU'VE HAD HARD KNOCKS HERE, WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE TO PULL INTO VICTORY LANE ON YOUR 17TH ATTEMPT AT TEXAS? "Well first I want to say hi to Ingrid and Ella at home and I know she was saying go pappa go all day long. I hate that they couldn't come with me this weekend. How ironic is this that we go on this streak and then we end it here in Texas a place that had just eluded us for so long. This was an incredible team effort. This whole year has been amazing. What a great car. We've never had a car like this at Texas and we finally had one and put it into position. I've got to thank DuPont. I've got to thank National Guard GED Plus, a great program that they have on board this weekend and of course Pepsi, Quaker State and I don't want to miss anybody else. Semens, Freightliner, Bosch, Purolator. I've got to say hi to Rick (Hendrick). I don't think Rick's here and I got you those six shooters buddy."
YOU TALKED ABOUT A GREAT RACE CAR, WHAT WAS THE KEY TO WINNING THIS RACE? "Well we had to tune on it. We took off real fast at the beginning and got the lead and got some bonus points but it was really loose and we started fading. We made an adjustment and went too far. I mean Steve Letarte (crew chief), I love this guy and he's a great crew chief. He listens to me and I was probably complaining too much so he over adjusted it because of how I was talking and we got tight. Man did he tune that thing back up and the pit stops were amazing. This whole DuPont Chevrolet crew, National Guard everybody this has just been an incredible year that we're having. How about my teammate (Jimmie Johnson)? This guy just won't go away. I was like where did he come from. It was unbelievable. It's so special to win here. I'm just thrilled and I can't wait to get home to Ingrid and Ella. Man what an amazing day it's been and I'm really thankful."
WHAT ARE YOUR EMOTIONS ON THE WIN? "Eddie Gossage (TMS president) won't let me put the cowboy hat on yet. I said, 'Let me put it on'. They only will let me put it on to fit it and we're going to do that later. But I am so thrilled to finally win here at Texas. We have the most incredible fans that come out here and support us. We are so thankful. And you know what? This DuPont / National Guard GED Plus car was just amazing all day. We kept in the top five and (crew chief) Steve Letarte and this team just did an amazing job of making adjustments and got this car to life there towards the end. Plus, they had a great pit stop that put us out in front. We were flying. And then I look up and there's my teammate (Jimmie Johnson) coming and I was like, where has he been all day? And here he comes. And honestly, I thought he was going to get me and probably in another five laps he would have. We really turned it up for that short run and I got out there and ran. But I started to fade."
ON JIMMIE WAS CATCHING UP: "On the run before that, we didn't get any clean air there and I was really loose. So I thought if we tightened it up that maybe we could get out there and run away from them. And so Steve Letarte and his team just did an amazing job on the pit stop getting us out first and making those adjustments and the car took off. It was amazing those first 10 laps. But boy did it start fading those last 10 (laps). Jimmie was coming. He was working every groove and line that he could. It was a great one-two finish for Hendrick Motorsports. This is just a really special day for me. I've been hearing for a very long time, when are you going to win at Texas? When are you going to win at Texas? And we finally did it. That's amazing." ***
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OLD SPICE/OFFICE DEPOT IMPALA SS, FINISHED 4TH: "Just pretty proud of these guys on this Old Spice/Office Depot team. We were really good in long runs. We weren't very good at taking off, but, after about 25-laps we were the fastest car on the race track all day. We just couldn't take off on the short runs.
"I am proud of these guys. We were good all day we just weren't quite good enough. We needed long runs. Our strength was the long hauls. We'll figure out how to make it quicker for the short runs when we come back in the fall, but really proud of this team and this organization.
"Our guys had a couple rough spots on pit road in the beginning, so I just calmed them down, told them to take a deep breath and just slow down a little bit and they had great stops the rest of the day. I am proud of those guys, they rebounded really well."
"I was having fun, it was fun earlier in the day, in the warmest part of the day, it never got really hot here, when we were getting a lot of laps on the tires and it was getting slippery.
"On cold tires, we were really fast when the track was at its warmest when everybody else was sliding around, that is when we were at our best. We just couldn't take off on the short runs. Just really proud of this Old Spice/Office Depot Chevy team, they did a great job today and keep diggin'.
"We were good early in the day, we were good all day, we just needed long runs. That is when we were the fastest. We weren't a short run car by any means but we'd get about 30-35 laps on our tires and we were the fastest car on the track, we just could never get it to take off and be really quick like the No. 24, No. 48 and the No. 16 at the end.
"Track position is key here. I mean the speeds you are running here, anytime you are running that fast, track position is going to be big. As windy as it was today, that made it that much more difficult. I don't think if it was this windy out, I don't think it would have been quite as bad on track position.
"The car owner is happy, the driver is ticked off. I wanted to win this thing. I felt like we had a shot at it and we did. We were good all day, we were respectable all day and we were good all weekend here. Just got to figure out some little things to make it quicker earlier in the day and earlier in the run and not so fast at the end of a run.
"The driver always wants to win and the owner always wants to win but still, we had a good car today. We were really fast from the 30 or so lap mark to the end of the run. We'd run those guys down right at the end when it was time to come in and pit. We just couldn't take off like we wanted to. We just couldn't get it to take off and be good like we wanted at the beginning of a run, but at the end we were fast."
"It makes you feel good when the two guys ahead of you are semi-teammates of yours. It makes you feel really good. We are logging data for the first time at a lot of these places, to be as good as we were all day, I was pretty proud of Darian Grubb (crew chief) and the guys.
"We just struggled on the short runs all day. We were never really good the first 20-30 laps of a run, especially the first five laps. It seemed like the longer we were on a set of tires, the better we were versus the rest of the guys. We can sacrifice a little on the end if we can gain some on the front."
MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 CHEEZ-IT/CARQUEST IMPALA SS, FINISHED 6TH:
"First let me say just how darn happy I am for Jeff (Gordon), Stevie (Letarte) and that whole 24 team. I couldn't wait to get to victory lane and congratulate those guys.
"The Cheez-It/CARQUEST Chevrolet was really good today. I was worried after yesterday's practice that we may have a 20th-place car.
"But the guys, like every other Sunday, gave me a great race car. They worked really hard and Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) made all the right changes to get us in the top 10 today. That last run, we were the loosest we'd been all day, I'm not sure if it was the tires or what. I really wanted that top-five, but just couldn't get there. I'm looking forward to spending my off-weekend with my fans in Batesville and then heading to Phoenix with these guys."
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 U.S. ARMY IMPALA SS, FINISHED 15TH:
"We salvaged that's for sure and we did it through perseverance," said Newman. "The guys did a good job in the pits and had good strategy. We were just good enough to get the lap back and that was about it. We have some work to do on these mile-in-a-half tracks. I am not happy with 15th, I am happy that the guys did a good job."
CASEY MEARS, NO. 07 JACK DANIELS IMPALA SS, FINISHED 21ST:
"The Jack Daniel's Chevy started out really tight. The first adjustment didn't do a whole lot but Gil (Martin, crew chief) made a good call during the first caution stop and got us headed in the right direction. We were in position for the Lucky Dog for about 30 laps in the middle of the race but never could get a caution. We're learned some things today with the air pressures that should help moving forward. We were good most of the day and just need to qualify better. Everybody on the Jack Daniel's team did a great job today."
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR IMPALA SS, FINISHED 9TH:
"The No. 31 Caterpillar Chvy was a bit tight there at the end og the race and I just couldn't turn it through the corners. We came here with a brand new car and package so we definitely have something we can build on."
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 KOBALT TOOLS IMPALA SS -- Finished 2nd
KNOWING JEFF GORDON IS YOUR FRIEND, AND YOUR BOSS, DID YOU DECIDD TO BACK OFF THOSE LAST COUPLE OF LAPS? "No (laughter), I was coming. Five more (laps) and we would have had a shot at him. But we were both driving as hard as we could. It was nice to get our car up to the front and get some clean air on it. We had to work really hard all day long to get the car right. So, I'm very proud of the team. We have our old style back where we just keep plugging away and we'll get is right come the end of the race. In another five laps we would have been racing with him. I'm not sure what would have happened, but it was a great race all together and I'm very happy for Jeff and now he's got a victory (in Texas). He's going to be tough this year, awfully tough."
HOW SATISFYING IS IT WHEN YOU WORKED AS HARD AS YOU DID TODAY SINCE YOU GUYS WERE OUT TO LUNCH EARLY? "Yeah, it feels nice to come back. And when you get that close to the leader, you just wish you had a few more (laps) and you get greedy in that respect.
"But if we look at what took place during the course of the day and how we made the car better and got to the front, we're very proud of that."
WHAT DID YOU HAVE FOR JEFF GORDON? "I was just a couple tenths quicker a lap. I had an outside line that was working where I think I could have been able to get to him. Fortunately I didn't have to run the same line as he did because I would have only gotten so close and stalled out. I feel like we had a shot at it. Hey, you know, it would have been five laps at least to get up alongside of him. I was clipping off just a little bit each lap, but it was cool. He had that thing dead sideways and I thought oh, here's my chance and I'd jump on the gas a little too hard and get sideways. It was just flat-out driving (laughs) at the end."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT IT BEING A HUGE DEAL FOR JEFF GORDON TO WIN "Well if we can't win, we want it in the family. And especially inside that 24/48 shop, I know how hard all the members in that race shop work. It's been tough for Jeff and (crew chief) Stevie (Letarte) to go through this dry spell, but they've worked hard and got their victory at a track that they said they would never win at. So it was a good day for them."
HOW EXCITED IS JEFF GORDON ABOUT WINNING AT TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY? "He's not going to know what to do with himself. I'm very proud of him and happy for him."
ON TRYING TO CATCH JEFF GORDON AT THE END "I was trying to run him down. I could get a tenth or two maybe on some laps and just chip away at him. Fortunately I had an outside line that was working where I could still catch him. I think in maybe another five laps I could have maybe gotten to him or close to him and made it exciting. But it was just a small little bit that I would gain each lap and just didn't have enough laps there at the end to catch him."
ON ADJUSTMENTS TO THE CAR "We just had to fight and fight and fight for this one. We tried to get the car right, plus track position helps a lot. We had good (pit) stops. We got the car where I could drive it and pass people and as soon as we got towards the front, the car took off."
ON STARTING THIS YEAR SO MUCH BETTER THAN LAST YEAR "Yeah, we're doing so much better this year than last year. We have the speed in the cars and it's just about us as a team, gelling and hitting our stride and doing the right things. We're really getting close to having perfect races."
DAVID GILLILAND. NO. 71 CAPITAL WINDOW/TRG MOTORSPORTS IMPALA SS, FINISHED 29TH:
"The car was really fast today. We struggled in the pits and you just can't do that at this level. I think we gave up like seven positions on our second pit stop. It is so tough on the track to get by cars, that when you lose positions in the pits it makes it that much harder. You cannot give up track position in the pits at this level, you have to work too hard on the track for the spots.
"It is too bad, we had a much better car than the finish showed today. We were able to match the times of the top five cars for over 70% of the race. To finish well in this series you have to have the total package. We are new as a team and it is still coming together. We did get unlucky with a few cautions when we just pitted, but we are putting fast cars on the track and the guys are really working hard. It was an unfortunate day for TRG Motorsports, but the car is in one piece so we can bring it to the next mile-and-a-half track."
CLINT BOWYER, NO. 33 CHEERIOS/HAMBURGER HELPER IMPALA SS, FINISHED 22ND: It was a long day for the Cheerios\Hamburger Helper team. Shane Wilson kept adjusting on it but we never could get it where we needed it to be. The guys never gave up and we chased it to the end, but we never could hit the right balance."
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET IMPALA SS, FINISHED 7TH:
NOTE -- Today was the third consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series top-15 finish for Montoya, a NASCAR career-first for him:
"Great run for the No. 42 team and Target. The guys worked hard all weekend, and we finished seventh, which makes it our third consecutive top-15 finish."
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD IMPALA SS, FINISHED 20TH:
DID YOU BREAK A TRACK BAR ON THAT CONTACT? "No, it was fine. Nothing was really wrong with the car after we hit the wall. It was frustrating at the time but, I was running real, real hard all day. Trying to hard and run well, and just got in to the wall down there in the middle of one and two. The car jumped sideways. Those cars built pretty tough. It didn't bend anything in the car. We just running real hard there, trying to get the best finish we could there. Just got us in there a little deep and got in the fence. My mistake."
COULD YOU NOT SEE WHEN YOU MISSED YOUR PITS? "That wasn't nothing. We were already last in line on the lead lap. We come down pit road and all the lapped cars were in their stalls and didn't want to get t-boned by one of them. I didn't get it in the stall so we just went around and came back in, that time pit road was empty.
WHAT ARE YOU DOING BEFORE THE NEXT RACE? "I'm going to raise a little hell and I'm going to go to Whiskey River and I'm going to go on vacation during Easter and take it easy, man."
DOES THIS TEAM NEED TO DO ANYTHING DURING THE OFF WEEK TO GET BETTER? "I don't know. You tell me. We were running pretty good all day. We were really fast. We just started way back there and you can't pass. You've got to start where you've got to finish, you know. You've got to start up front or you won't finish here."
DOES THAT MEAN YOU HAVE TO TAKE A HARDER LOOK AT HOW YOU QUALIFY NOW? "Yeah, we've actually been thinking about that too. We've been working toward showing up in qualifying trip. We used to show up in race trim and run a half-hour in that first Friday practice and now we're we're just going to show up in qualifying trim for a while and try to get better. Really, it's so challenging and so hard to pass, especially at a place like this, starting up front really helps and the cars drive a lot better when they're up in clean air.
"Our teammates always did it and I wondered why we never did. So we're doing what they're doing."
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL IMPALA SS, FINISHED 27TH:
"We fought the handling on the Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet Impala SS all day. Our No. 29 crew was stout in the pits and Todd (Berrier) made changes in order to get the car more balanced as the race went on, but we just missed the setup. We'll enjoy this off weekend coming up and be ready for Phoenix."
-credit: gm racing