ROBBY GORDON, NO. 31 CINGULAR WIRELESS CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO (third; first top-five finish in 2002): Highlights of Robby Gordon's post-race interview as third-place finisher: IT WAS AN EXCITING RACE: "It was good for awhile; I sure liked the...
ROBBY GORDON, NO. 31 CINGULAR WIRELESS CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO (third; first top-five finish in 2002):
Highlights of Robby Gordon's post-race interview as third-place finisher:
IT WAS AN EXCITING RACE:
"It was good for awhile; I sure liked the start of it. We had a good car. The car was easy to drive all day long. Biggest problem was track position. We had that one bad pit stop, came back to 10th or something there at the end. It was just hard to get back by these guys clean. I wanted to race everybody clean. I know one time I got by Ricky Rudd; had to race him back to the yellow, just because that's what Richard told me to do. Every lap was important because there weren't a lot of them green there at the end. We got by him there and we probably missed it on our restart gear. That, and I didn't expect Tony to take off in turn 10 so I got caught sleeping big time there. And, by the time we got to the start-finish line I was probably 20, 30 car lengths behind on that last restart. So, I didn't have a shot at the end."
"I got by the 41 and the 14 at the same time. I think Ryan was on the outside, and we were four-wide going down into turn 1. Had a shot at getting all of them, but I checked up going into 1. I wanted to make sure I didn't wreck. P.J. smoked his inside tire, so I was able to dive back underneath him coming off of turn 1 and move into third place. Real tough to pass today; cars were just so competitive and these teams when you start getting into the top five and top 10 these teams are so good that all the cars are so equal, it makes for good racing but hard to pass."
DID YOU THINK THAT TONY JUMPED THE RESTART?
"All I know is I think I was at the bridge when he was at the start-finish line. I could have sworn that cone over there by the bridge is where we were supposed to take off, and he took off and stood on the gas before turn 10. I wasn't even close to expecting that. We had a tall first gear so that hurt us a little bit as well. I had to clutch the thing on the start and on the restart to basically spin the tires until the engine caught up with the tires to get going and I was just bogged down right there because I thought we were going to go at the cone."
YOU SAW IT BEFORE, WERE YOU READY FOR IT THIS TIME?
"I saw him get stacked up because I was back there too. What he does. It's a little dirt-track racing trick. You back off the gas and get everybody else to slow down and then you hammer the gas about the time they're on the brakes. He did that to us all day today. All the power to him. He did a good job; he won the race."
HOW ABOUT THOSE ANKLES?
"Man, I would've won this race easy if I didn't have hurt ankles. I'm just kidding. It didn't bother me at all. Like Indianapolis last week I don't think the injuries hurt me once I was inside the race car. A little difficult to walk down pit lane and get in the car or get out of the car. Right now, I'm just happy that we were able to be competitive. I thought two weeks ago if you had asked me if we were going to be competitive on the road course I thought I threw all our chances away, and we were very competitive today. We were able to lead the race pretty easy early on. Like I said, we just lost our track position."
WITHOUT THE MIXUP IN THE PIT STOP, YOU WOULD HAVE BEEN ABLE TO CHALLENGE TONY STEWART?
"Yeah, we had a good car today. The biggest thing is just the whole race team has been doing a good job. This is our fourth top 10 in the last five races. Ever since we swapped teams, Kevin Hamlin and those guys have given me a car to be real competitive. We had a shot at Bill Elliot last weekend at Indianapolis as well. It doesn't really matter whether it's a road course or an oval. We've been able to position ourselves to have a shot at it. There's a saying that if you put yourself in front of that door enough times one of these days it's going to open up. And I think it's going to open up again here pretty soon."
PLACE KIND OF OWED YOU SOMETHING BECAUSE OF LAST YEAR. DOES THIS VINDICATE YOU?
"Nobody ever owes you anything; this is racing. Nobody ever owes you anything; you have to earn it. Winston Cup racing is really competitive today. Every move you make has to be calculated or you'll get pushed out of line and fall back. We had a good run. It was a good run for Richard Childress Racing. We had our first top-five of the season now this year with this finish. We've been (in the) top 10 quite often recently and we're starting to move up in points. I'm just glad that the team's starting to gel. The engine shop has definitely picked up. We've got some work to do to catch Ryan on the straightaways, but we're getting closer every week."
EARLY ON STRONG CAR, TAKE US THROUGH THE REST:
"All weekend long the cars that we thought would be the strong ones was Tony, the 41 and Gordon and Ryan. Pretty much every practice we charted their laps and we knew those guys would be the ones to go. I was able to get by Tony on the start and once I cleared him and I got by Rudd it was pretty much clean sailing. The biggest thing is I got a lot of those guys on the restart, like on the very first start so I never was the ninth guy in line or the 10th guy in line. And when you're that far back on single-file restarts the aero going up through turn 2, 3 and 4, the car pushed so bad that I wasn't able to run wide open, and it made it hard to pass people. I think when you're that first, second or third car in line you have more grip, you have more downforce. The more boats or the more cars that drive through that air, it's like a boat wake, the dirtier it gets, the less grip you have."
DAMAGE ON THE RIGHT SIDE HAD ANYTHING TO DO WITH THAT?
"I think that was Tony pushing for a space that wasn't his."
EARLY IN THE RACE TONY WAS IN YOUR MIRROR, DID YOU THINK HIS CAR WAS REAL GOOD?
"I was backed off at that point and I think he was backed off as well because it was early in the race; you race nine-tenths in the beginning and I was still stepping away from him little by little. Key is track position and passing. I knew early he had a fast race car but I knew he was going to be hard to pass just like it was hard for him to pass us."
HOW OLD IS THE CAR YOU'RE DRIVING TODAY?
"I think it's about 20 years old (laughing). They ran this same spec in 1965. This is NASCAR, come on."
"Let me clarify that last comment just a little bit. The reason why I said that is the spec of NASCAR hasn't changed in a long time and I think it makes great racing. There's little you can advance on every year even if you build a new car and this was a new car for Sears Point. We learned with that car there, basically we came here with a very similar setup on it and rolled it out and it was quick here as well. The one good thing about it is this car will be good next year and the year after. But obviously Chevrolet is going to have a body change next year, so probably just build another new one again. Even though it will be the same spec from 1965."
1100 MILES INDIANAPOLIS TO CHARLOTTE IN THE HEAT; COMPARE IT TO A WORK OUT ON A ROAD COURSE:
"I think Indianapolis is different than here and Charlotte is different than here. It's a lot more mental. Here, it's very physical and you're sliding left and right and hustling the car all day long, and you just can't slide a car like that on an oval all day long or it will bite you. On a road course you can slide the car sideways and get away with it. I feel good after the race. I had power steering so I'm sure Ryan would feel a lot better if he did have the power steering the whole race. It was hot today. The team's been working real hard on keeping me cool inside and doing some stuff with some special materials to keep the heat out of the inside of the car because I've been complaining about the heat quite a bit. I wasn't too hot today."
"I just want to congratulate Richard Childress' grandson. His team, out of Southwest Forsyth, a Little League baseball team, is going to the world series. They won the other day and I want to congratulate those guys for going to the world series."