ROBBY GORDON, NO. 31 CINGULAR WIRELESS CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO "Good day for us. We didn't qualify well. I tried to get the pole too hard and the car really stepped out on me on the carousel. So we started 14th, and I think at the end of Lap 1...
ROBBY GORDON, NO. 31 CINGULAR WIRELESS CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO
"Good day for us. We didn't qualify well. I tried to get the pole too hard and the car really stepped out on me on the carousel. So we started 14th, and I think at the end of Lap 1 we weree seventh, so we just continued to climb up from there. A couple of guys pulled some strategy on us and pitted early and we fell back to like 14th, but I think we were still able to climb back up to seventh or eighth. A couple of guys ran really good on the road courses. Casey Mears was very difficult to pass, Ryan Newman was very difficult to pass because they were good and they did a good job, and I wanted to race them clean. It was a good run for us. And we finally got to pull this Cingular Chevy into the victory lane at Watkins Glen and it feel good. We came up here and tested, and we didn't go very far off of where we tested. We weren't the quickest car on the track, but we knew we could do those laps every lap. That's kind of what the key is."
DOES THIS MAKE UP FOR THE YEARS WHERE YOU WERE REALLY GOOD HERE AND SOMETHING WENT WRONG?
"I don't know. Racetracks don't owe you anything. You've got to earn them every time. But I didn't win this race by myself. We had strategy. We had "55" on our dashboard, and if it went green, we could stop on Lap 55 and go to the end. At Lap 52 Rusty started spinning and I got on the radio, called them and asked if he was going to make it or was he going to stop. They said he was stopped so we came down pit lane, and that was the call we made prior to the race, understanding if a caution was to come out here, we would need 3 laps of yellow flag, and we got our three lap of yellow. At the end of the race, we just cruised. I backed off 20 car lengths early for every corner, I shut the butterflies off on the carburetor and just kind of momentumed through the chicane as best I could. I didn't use the brakes, I didn't use tires in case Jeff Gordon or one of those guys got to me late in the race and I had to use some stuff, I had plenty in reserve. I think the key is just running hard every weekend. Winston Cup Racing is so competitive and you can't make any mistakes. You've got to be on your game all day long. I rode a great race car, we made some good pit calls, and everybody at RCR won this race, not just myself. The biigest mistake I made all day long was getting into the back of Boris (Said). I saw him spinning behind me and felt terrible. He had a good run and had just put a good pass on me, and I thought maybe I could give him a little shove going up the straightaway and maybe both of us could draft on by, but I think I must've shifted to fourth gear before he did, and just that little bit of a nudge was all he needed.
WHAT DO YOU DO AS A TEAM TO KEEP THE MOMENTUM GOING?
"Well, we've already been working on that. We're bringing cars that are very similar to what we had at Indy last weekend. That's the stuff that's going to keep us performoing. We go to the wind tunnel every week and we continue to develop our racing program to be more competitive. We're going to do the same thing this week. We'll have a round table tomorrow and see where we can get better and hopefully pull another RCR car into victory lane at Michigan as well."
IF RUSTY HADN'T SLIPPED UP ON LAP 52 LIKE YOU SAID, DO YOU THINK THE RESULT WOULD'VE BEEN THE SAME WITH A GREEN-FLAG STOP?
" I do because at that point I started off that green run in 14th, I believe, and Rusty was sixth, so I had just moved myself into sixth. I think we would've been okay anyway. The biggest thing in road racing is you just can't make any mistakes. You can't drive it off the road and you can't burn up your stuff. The first half of the race, our plan was just to survive, and that's exactly what we did. If Rusty wouldn't have gotten stuck in there, we probably still would've been okay because we would've been the first car on new tires, and we would've run a couple of laps quicker than the other guys, and that would've given us track position as well."
DOES IT MAKE A DIFFERENCE BEING WITH A BETTER TEAM AFTER HAVING SOME SUCCESS ON ROAD COURSES WITH SOME LESSER TEAMS?
"This is probably going to surprise you, but this chassis is the chassis I ran in 200 with my team. We finished fourth with this car here, and handed our cars over to RCR at the beginning of the season because we felt it was a good design for road racing. Doug Ralph designed it for me. He was the guy that help designed the Chevrolet Corvettes that Dale Earnhardt and Junior drove at Daytona. I hired him to design the chassis for us. It's now been to victory lane twice, it should've been more. We probably should've won here when we finished fourth, and probably should have won Sears Point as well, but we made a bad pit call. We started learning from there that you have to pit early. And it's the same car that we ran as the 7 car with Jimmy Smith."
WAS THERE EVER A TIME WHEN YOU WERE PULLING AWAY THAT YOU THOUGHT SOMETHING STUPID MIGHT HAPPEN? "Not really. The guys at RCR build really good race cars, and they go through every piece of the car with a fine-tooth comb. The biggest thing is not to make any mistakes on the racetrack. On the restart, first on the first lap I ran hard, I think I pulled him 20 car lengths. That's about the only laps I ran hard ever, those two restart laps. I just kind of conserved fuel and saved the brakes. I'd say going into Turn 1 I was off the brakes 30 car lengths earlier than I needed to be. We were kind of in cruise mode."
CAN YOU COMPARE THE RACE HERE WITH THE RACE AT SONOMA?
"The two races are different. The car was the same car, just a different paint job. We had Charlie's Angel on the car at Sears Point, and we changed it to FDNY/Special Olympics car for today, but it was the same chassis, but the setup wasn't the same. We weren't able to get away with the same stuff that we ran there, probably because Sears Point has slower corners and you've got to use first gear. We might have made a mistake today with our first gear. Springs and shocks are very different between both racetracks. I think the beigest thing is at Sears Point you don't have as many concrete corners as you do here. It seems like every corner because of the weather they go through at Watkins Glen in the wintertime, all the corners are based on concrete, so you've got to get a hold of the concrete really good with your outside tires.