Tag:Jeff Gordon
Posted on: April 17, 2011 8:00 pm
Edited on: April 17, 2011 8:00 pm

Bowyer, Gordon post Talladega comments

Posted by Pete Pistone

Clint Bowyer, you won last fall here, you were all of strong here again today.  Talk about this race here this afternoon.

CLINT BOWYER:  Yeah, it was a lot of fun.  You know, the whole race was fun.  BB&T Chevrolet was fast all weekend, the same hot rod that we won with in the fall, and just proud of the guys and everybody at ECR Engines.  You can't say enough about their efforts and the job they have done.  We didn't sit on the front two rows, but we were up front -- all six engines were up front pretty much all day long.  So, proud of their guys.  Proud of their efforts and just come up short.         

Man, what a bummer.  Man, I saw them coming, and the 24 and I were, you know, trying to suck off each other and break each other's momentum and drag racing each other so much, I was like, oh, no, block 'em, block 'em, block 'em.  I knew if he dipped down to block them, that we had the race won.  But we just come up short.  It's frustrating.  I know the importance of getting a race win right now is big.         

You know that win -- if I would have won right there, it could have put me in the Chase.  I was thinking about that.  That's going to be important throughout the year, and you know, that was a good shot at it.  It just slipped through our finger           

Q.  Could you speak about how much you were able to work with Kevin today, how much you were compelled to work with him and how different it is finding partners and staying with partners in this type of racing than it was in the big pack racing?      

CLINT BOWYER:  Well, start to with that, it's very difficult to stay with a partner all day long.  My partner is Jeff Burton.  I hated that we got separated there.  It happened -- you know, when the caution that didn't happen; when Ryan Newman spun, everybody lifted.  Everybody thought the caution was coming out, and looked out the side mirror and he gathered it up and I looked up and it was still green.

So, I was like, oh, man.  Jeff and I were way separated and luckily Kevin had got separated from his guy and still had the momentum I did.  We hooked up and were able to go on.  I hated that for Jeff; that very spot right there put him back in the field, and I don't know where he finished, but it separated us.

So it was very difficult to keep together.  But like I said, when Kevin and I got hooked up, we were able to work well together.  We were talking amongst each other.  We were down and out -- you know that was the biggest thing about Kevin and I.  I was pushing him and his car wouldn't lead at all.  We were bad.  We went all the way back to 17th there I think with four to go and I was like, we've got to switch, we've got to do something.  Everybody was blowing by us and we switched there on the front straightaway and drove all the way back up through them and had ourselves in position.  So, we tried.

Q.  Throw out the weekend and I guess since Daytona too, there's been mixed reactions about the two-car draft.  Junior said all weekend he hates it and drivers that got spun out today said they didn't like it.  After that finish, I mean what do you think's going to be the general reaction in the garage?

CLINT BOWYER:  Here is the thing.  It doesn't matter what happened throughout that race or what your thought was.  If you didn't like that finish and it didn't make you forget about the race, you're crazy.

Something about that, it just makes you forget about it and makes it -- if it was a problem, it ain't a problem anymore.  You know, it always seems to fix itself at the end of these restrictor plate races.  It doesn't matter who is up there.

You know, whether it's ten cars or 43 cars left, it's always a hell of a finish at these plate races, and always comes right down to the wire for whatever reason.  You know, that wasn't a green-and-white checkered; you thought it was going to be.  I thought it was going to be, and it never presented it receive.  But it was still, you know, an unbelievable finish.

Q.  Any satisfaction to know that your name is NASCAR history is losing by --

CLINT BOWYER:  Hell, no, that sucks (laughter).  It's never very good to know you made NASCAR history by losing.  Sooner or later I need to start making history by winning.  That guy's won enough (chuckling).

The only thing that bums me out about that is those guys lagged back all day long.  That's what makes it tough, losing by somebody that did that.  We were up front for our sponsors and our team and digging all day long.  When you get it taken from you at the end by somebody who lagged back all day, it's hard to take.

Q.  How much deliberations was put into swapping?

CLINT BOWYER:  It really just depended on your temperatures.  You know, how you were able to manage that, and once you got together, if you were three-wide, you couldn't manage it anymore.  You couldn't duck out.  You couldn't get air.  As long as you were two-wide and out front, you know, Jeff and I were able to manage it and pretty well push each other the whole time.   No different than Michael and I did at the beginning of the race.  He never did, you know, switch.

So if you were able it to manage it and your car would do it, if it was capable of it -- the guys have worked hard on making sure that it does that.  And some instances, it wasn't even necessary.

Q.  I know, but that last swap that you talked about.  Did y'all talk --

CLINT BOWYER:  It was necessary.  No, we got passed -- we found ourselves 17th from the lead.  And when that happens, something's wrong.  We've got to switch something up. 

Q.  Do you think you would have been any better at the end of the race with Jeff?

CLINT BOWYER:  I don't know.  Like I said, it was a shame that we got separated.  We worked well all day together.  Jeff is a great teammate.  Like him a lot.  I appreciate everything he's done for me and that's just one of those situations where it sucks.  You know, you wish that the guy that helped you get there was a guy that, you know, got the reward and unfortunately he did.

I don't know where he even finished.  I don't know, but it is -- that's the frustrating part about it.

KERRY THARP:  Clint thank you very much.  Great show out there.  See you at Richmond.

Jeff Gordon drives the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger AARP Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports.  Jeff, certainly a competitive race out there.  A lot of cars had an opportunity to win there at the end.  Your thoughts?

JEFF GORDON:  Obviously very happy with the results.  You know, to come back -- to come away with a third place finish, I mean, any time you come to a restrictor plate track, you know, you're on the fence of survival, keeping the car in one piece and try to win.

I feel like we had a great strategy coming in.  We played it very conservative obviously and I think it paid off for us for sure.  I really did expect there to be some more cautions there at the end, but you know, I feel like Mark and I did a great job working together.  We just communicated well.  Our spotter did a great job; the whole team.

All weekend you know we put ourselves in position to win.  We were leading coming off of four.  I'm sure when I watch the video, there's definitely plenty of things I would have liked to have done a little bit different, but I feel like we did a really nice job.           

Q.  Could you speak to your day-long commitment to running with Mark, and what lengths you went to to maintain that relationship close to each other on the racetrack and how it's different from how you found partners in the big-pack racing.

JEFF GORDON:  Yeah, we pretty much just had the philosophy coming in this weekend, you know, don't leave your wing man.  And I think we learned a lot in Daytona.  In Daytona, we kind of said, oh, let's just kind of ride out and see how it goes.  We didn't expect everybody to get right into twos as soon as they dropped the green flag.

Based on that, we realized that you have to have somebody that you can count on, somebody that you trust, somebody that you can get on the radio and work; and who better to do that with than your teammates?  And in our case, this weekend, was Mark Martin, which I thought -- and this is the first time we've done it.  Now going through the experience, we'll be even better the next time.  But I thought we did a really good job, and like I said, we put ourselves in position to win.

But I didn't work with anybody else all day long.  Mark was the only one.  Sometimes I was pushing him.  Sometimes he was pushing me.  And we were just trying to maintain that gap to the leaders.  We got behind one time.  You know, they kind of strung out and got more spread out and so the pack picked up pace.  And they were not racing as hard so that got us behind one time and made us a little nervous.

But from that point on, we pretty much maintained about a five- to seven-second gap that worked out really well for us.

Q.  You and Jeff and Mark were working together there and he was doing the majority of the pushing.  Is this something you talked about before the race and did he feel uncomfortable leading with you pushing him.

JEFF GORDON:  Well, we had talked, you know, and you can't always control who comes off pit road first and who is going to be pushing or if you're going to be pushing.

So it's just -- it was one of those things where actually, I think he got off pit road on the last pit stop before us.  I was in behind him pushing him, and they basically wrecked without throwing a caution down there in three and four, and when they did that, everybody checked up, and I was able to keep the momentum pretty good.  And I got in front of Mark, and at that point, he got in behind me.  And we had already talked -- he kind of said, you know, hey, I would like to push you instead of you push me.

So you know, it kind of worked out in our favor the way we wanted anyway.  Seemed like we did a bit better job communicating in our pace and everything; not speed-wise, but just being able to judge the pace and stay connected with me leading and him running behind me.

But at the end, I was just as happy to be pushing him and would have done everything I could to push him to the front just like he did for me.

Q.  It wasn't too long ago that bump drafting was considered taboo and reckless and dangerous in the turns, and now things have changed and people bump all the way around.  But almost every crash was caused by cars bump-drafting in the turn or the entrance; is there a certain way to do it; do you not push as hard in the turns or not rest -- or just push and not bump?  What is the way to do that?

JEFF GORDON:  First let's backup, the reason why it was silly to bump draft in the corners before is the bumpers didn't lineup.  So you would get somebody that would get aggressive with it, and they would basically wreck a guy in front of them.

But what we learned was the closer you could get to the bumper of the guy in front of you, the faster you wasn't went.  If you had the bumpers lined up back then you might have been able to push all the way around.  Now we have a car that has a tremendous amount of downforce.  There's very little we can do to this car for here versus other tracks like we used to do.  We used to come here and not that we don't put that effort into this car; we do, but the cars, amount of down far as difference between our Daytona and Talladega cars versus our short track and intermediate track cars was huge, you know, ten years ago, or eight years ago.  Now, it's not near as much as you would think.

So that's kind of the evolution, and you know, I don't know, to me, at Daytona is a little trickier pushing, where you had to be a little careful if you got to the left-rear corner of somebody.

I didn't see any of the wrecks today, what caused them, so I can't really comment, but Mark and I pushed and checked up in front of one another, switched lanes.  We did all kinds of things, and it all worked out pretty well for us.  I thought the cars were very comfortable here.  Usually what happens is somebody breaks the momentum and checks up and you swerve and that guy behind you, because he's basically blind, he tries to follow you and sometimes they hook you.

But I couldn't comment any more on it than that it, because I didn't see it.     

Q.  After that finish, is there any question that this is the style of racing to go?  There are some people that don't like it, but I don't see how you can argue with that kind of finish.

JEFF GORDON:  Well, you know, it comes down to a strategy race to try to get yourself in position with 20, 25 to go.  And there's more to it than you think.  I mean, you know, when you see me and Mark out there riding around, six, eight seconds back to the lead, it's not as easy as you think it is to manage that and to figure it out.

You still are having to watch your temperatures and different things.  But let's be honest:  In my opinion, Talladega has always been about a 15-, 25-lap race, and the rest is just trying to get to the end.  And that's basically what we have now.

If you want to survive and you want to make it to the finish, you know, you have to either choose to try to push to stay up front, or ride in the back.  But being in the middle, to me, is not worth it.  And we have just had such terrible luck here at the restrictor plate track in recent years that we didn't feel like there was any choice but to go to the back, once we got shuffled back from the lead.  And we kind of planned that coming into the weekend and it worked out for us.  Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't, but that certainly worked out for us.  But this two-car draft is here to stay.  Unless they drastically change the cars, something is going to take that.  The restrictor plate is not going to change that.  It would take a whole new revamping of the car to change that.  But you know, I kind of laugh at that because that's kind of what was designed, you know, with this car, was to create that.

And not necessarily two-car draft, but you know, to be able to get to the bumper and not spin one another out; have a car that's much boxier to blow a bigger hole in the air.  You know, that's what we have to deal with now and that's what's created the kind of racing that we have.

I personally don't have a problem with it actually.  I think -- I thought that was pretty fun there at the end, whether I was pushing or being pushed.  Those last ten, 15 laps are fun from a driver standpoint.

Q.  Having said what you just about did the kind of race to go stay, when we saw the wrecks today, in the past it had been 12, 15, 18 cars at a clip that had gone out.  Barring a last-lap kind of thing where there's all kinds of craziness, today there were four or five cars, just a little bit, as opposed to what had been.  I hate to put -- is the big one gone in this type of racing with the two-car draft and their separation?  Give me your take on that.

JEFF GORDON:  You know, just depends on how the cautions fall in my opinion.  I thought that everybody did a really awesome job there in the closing laps.  I'm surprised there were not more incidents than there was in the caution, you know, with four or five to go, because I was expecting it.  Even though we are in these two-car groups, at the end of the race, we are actually in packs of them.  You know, and they might stretch out a little bit on the restart, but then it seems like they come right back together.

So it's just as easy to me to have a big one now as it ever has been in the closing laps.  I think that -- and I've always felt this, that even with the old car and the way we were all bunched together, I thought it was absolutely ridiculous that we were out there pushing and shoving and running three- and four-wide, at lap, you know, 40.  Didn't seem to me to be very smart.  And I think that with this two-car draft, it forces you to think a little bit more about, you know, how aggressive you're going to get with it.

And there's still some guys that want to be aggressive with it and I think it caught them today.  But there's other guys that want to be real patient with it.      

Q.  How sure advised were you to see Dave Blaney running at the front today and sounds like you're fighting a cold, was it a physical struggle?

JEFF GORDON:  I am sick as can be and have been the last couple of days and not having a lot of fun with that.  That's the beauty of driving a race car, especially at Talladega, is here, it's not so physical as it is mental.  And you know, once they drop the green flag, it was mind over matter and I was so focused I didn't even think about being ill.

As far as Blaney, or anybody in this field, when you're pushing like that, if you've got a decent car pushing you or you're pushing a decent car, there's anybody that can win this race that can go to the front, which is not that much different than the way Talladega has always been.  And I thought that was pretty cool to see Dave up there in the closing laps.  It just seems to me like you always see that 22 car up there at the front in the closing laps.  Doesn't matter who he's pushing or whose pushing him.  He seems to know his way up there, and Dave is a great race car driver.  Certainly happy for Tommy Baldwin and those guys to run good like that.


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Posted on: April 16, 2011 2:21 pm
Edited on: April 17, 2011 6:43 pm

Gordon leads Hendrick qualifying sweep

By Pete Pistone

Aaron's 499 Starting Line-up

Jeff Gordon led a Hendrick Motorsports sweep of the first four positions in Saturday's qualifying session for the Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Gordon and teammate Jimmie Johnson will start Sunday's second restrictor plate race of the season from the front row while their stablemates Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt Jr. took the third and fourth qualifying spots.

It was the third time in Sprint Cup Series history that one organization swept the first four positions in qualifying. Roush Fenway Racing last completed the feat at Auto Club Speedway in 2005.

Three drivers did not make Sunday's race: Mike Skinner, Tony Raines and Michael McDowell .

Talladega Qualifying Notes

Jeff Gordon won the Coors Light Pole Award for the 42nd Annual Aaron's 499 with a lap of 53.723 seconds, 178.248 mph.

This is his 70th pole in 625 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. Gordon surpasses Cale Yarborough for third-place on the all-time pole winners list.

This is his first pole and third top-10 start in 2011.

This is his second pole in 37 races at Talladega Superspeedway.

Jimmie Johnson (second) posted his third top 10 start of 2011 and his 13th in 19 races at Talladega Superspeedway.

Mark Martin (third) posted his 22nd top 10 start at Talladega Superspeedway. It is his fourth in eight races this season.

Andy Lally (37th) was the fastest qualifying rookie.

Hendrick Motorsports becomes the third team in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series history to qualify four cars in the first four starting positions (Pete DePaolo 1956 -Charlotte; Jack Roush 2005 - Auto Club).

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Posted on: March 26, 2011 11:30 am
Edited on: March 26, 2011 11:31 am

Video of the Day: Herbie rides at Fontana

Posted by Pete Pistone

Auto Club Speedway has been the site of many video, commercial, television and movie productions. "Herbie the Love Bug: Fully Loaded," the film that brought back Disney's iconic racing VW Bug with Lindsay Lohan no less as the movie's star, was shot at the Southern California track and included a drive by scene with Hendrick drivers Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson:

Posted on: March 4, 2011 12:16 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2011 12:17 pm

Video of the day: Johnson, Gordon 2010 Vegas

Posted By Pete Pistone

Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson didn't quite see eye-to-eye in the closing laps of last year's Sprint Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Gordon looked like he had the win sewn up until late race troubles which allowed Johnson to pull away for the win:

Posted on: March 3, 2011 9:42 am
Edited on: March 3, 2011 9:43 am

Jeff Gordon on the Tonight Show

Posted by Brian De Los Santos

Before making the trek over to Las Vegas for this weekend's race, Phoenix race winner Jeff Gordon made a stop at the Tonight Show with Jay Leno on Wednesday night.

Part 1

Part 2

Category: Auto Racing
Tags: Jeff Gordon
Posted on: March 1, 2011 1:10 pm
Posted on: February 27, 2011 10:17 pm
Edited on: February 27, 2011 10:18 pm

Gordon post Phoenix comments

Posted By Pete Pistone

An interview with Jeff Gordon

JEFF GORDON:  First of all, how cool is that to tie Yarborough.  That is the ultimate.  First guy I ever drove a Cup car for was Cale Yarborough.  A lot of people don't realize that. Of course, I spun that car that day, too.

Man, I don't know where to start.  First of all, they dropped the green flag and I knew that we had something special.  The car just, it was doing a lot of great things.  It was turning good.  It was getting off the corner really strong.  And you know, I just    and I mean, I know how good Kevin Harvick is around this place and we were just hanging right there with him and picking our way through some of the cars there.  I was like, man, we have got something really good here.

Sequence of events, really I guess it was just to mess with our emotions, because I'll be honest, I thought we were done.  When I hit the wall, I hit it hard over there, when Carl had his problems and just went in him outside of the three and he just drifted up, not his fault, I think he had a left front tire go down or something and put us in the wall and I thought we were done.  Came into pit road and Alan orchestrated those guys fixing it and he said, no, man, I think it looks all right.  They dropped the green and it felt okay.  We only made a half lap and they wrecked on the back straightaway and they all came to pit road and we were sitting there like fourth.  I was like, all right.  And then we drove up, took the lead or something not too far after that and I was like, wow, this is unbelievable sequence of events and turnaround.

And I knew at that time, we had a car that could win.  We had a great battle with Stewart, and he was really strong on the long runs.  Our car was real strong on the short runs and then we seemed to wear the right front tire out a little bit.  And Alan made some great calls, great pit stops, and you know, we were out front there.  When Kyle got us on that green flag exchange, I was a little concerned because I know how good he is, and good he is here.  I mean, nobody beat him at anything this weekend.  So I was looking forward to the battle and the challenge, because I knew how good our car was.

I had no idea Tony was out there on two tires, and then the caution came out.  He got that jump on the restart and I was like, man, that's going to be hard to catch.  We just started picking away at him and the car was so good, I could see his car going away a little bit on the exit, and that is where our car was so strong.

Today, the difference for me was that we have had cars    we have been in position to win races, like even here, and you know, with our spun the tires on the restart or whatever it may be, but I have not been in a position to put pressure on the leader to force him to make mistakes and be in control of the situation in a very long time.  And that's what I love so much about today is to be in that position was such a cool feeling, and at that moment, you don't care if it's Kyle Busch or who it is; you feel like you're in control of your destiny and it got a little hairy getting into one of them, I admit.

I was shocked I even got underneath him and I was like, all right, I'm going to check up early because I was afraid he was going to do the swap over on me.  He's pretty notorious about that.

I drove in easy to try to get a good run off of two and not let him do the swap over and I kind of felt him on my right side and my car got real loose and we banged a little bit and slipped the racetrack and my spotter said clear, and I drove off and I looked up and he was three or four car lengths behind me and I'm like, yes, let's go.  Then it was just putting some laps to go.


Q.  Jeff, last week obviously there was a lot of excitement about how the race finished and a new face in NASCAR.  Is there anything about this race or track that you think of being a veteran of experience helps succeed?

JEFF GORDON:  Well, not as much as having a fast race car.  This is an abrasive    you are comparing apples to oranges.  You have Daytona two car drafts, restrictor plates.  There's no comparison if that's what you are trying to compare to.

This week, you look at Kyle Busch, he's was really strong but so is Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Carl.  I think you've got    you've got to have a little bit of experience, no matter how good your car is to run good here.  But I can tell you, I've had a lot of experience here and I've been here a lot of times and this is only my second win.  So it's not just about experience.

But I will say that the two characteristics that are alike with those two wins is the car did about the same thing.  It did what I wanted it do, which you would get in the corner, it would cut the middle and drive off really hard and strong.  The last time I had a car that did that, besides today was the last time we won here.

But this is a tricky place.  It's not easy.  So you know I think it's been one of the most challenging tracks that I've had in my career, but then you have days like today where you're like, well, man, it almost seemed easy because the car drove so good.  That makes up for a lot of things, I'll tell you that.  But this is not an easy track to just come to your first time or first couple of times.  You're not necessarily just going to go fast.


Q.  I would like to ask you the same question that I asked you right after you won at Texas in 2009.  The moment you took the checkered flag, did you feel more joy or relief?

JEFF GORDON:  Oh, no.  It was all joy.  Trust me.  But maybe the joy came from a little bit of relief, but I got    shoot, with two or three laps to go, when I started pulling away from Kyle, and I knew that all I had to do was pray that that white flag would come out before the caution, you know, and just put laps together, you know, I mean, I started having all kinds of thoughts and emotions and things, because it was just one of those roller coaster rides today.  And it's been a roller coaster ride for the 24 team the last couple of years.

And you know, it just seems like all of that gets bottled up.  You work so hard and it means so much; because of those moments and those times when you didn't get the wins.  I didn't know what the reaction, what was going on in the crowd.  I knew we put on a good race.  But I was just    I was just feeling a lot of emotion, because it's just so cool.  You know, it's just so cool to get back to winning and that kind of    have a dominating performance like we had today with all of the issues.  Just over the off season, talking to Alan, talking to Rick, with the changes, and just seeing the things that they were doing, I just felt like we were doing the right things.  But then we showed up here and qualified 20th and I was like, oh, man, that was a little bit of a letdown.  But when they dropped the green today, I was like, ahh, that's what I thought it would be like.  To pull it off it's awesome, it's a great feeling.

I have to be honest with you, when I did the burnout, which I know wasn't a very good one, because I'm not very good at it; if we win some more, I'll get better at it.  And I'm sorry, Rick, I think I hurt the engine or something because I spun around there and it would not start up again.  (Laughter) But I got out of it down there in the grass, and I looked up, and I mean, I didn't see an empty spot.

And then I was like, that's cool and I mean, I was feeling the emotions but to see them react like that.  And then the push truck pushed me around and to see them all the way down doing that, I was like, I don't know if I've ever experienced something like that.  And that to me made it all worth it right there to have that feeling.


Q.  Did you cry at all?  

JEFF GORDON:  Well give me your definition of cry.  There were no tears.  The chin was shaking.  I had to check myself.  You've seen the boo hooking.  There was no boo hoo crying.  When I saw my wife, because you know, she has not been able to experience all of the wins.

And so you know, to go through a lot of things with her and the conversations that we've had, when I saw her, I knew that that was going to get me.  So that got me a little bit.

And then seeing Rick that, got me a little bit.  When I saw him, I was just excited.  That was just cool.  So you know, I guess when you go that long, and you work that hard, you expect to have that.  I do, anyway.


Q.  Did the two of you in the off season do anything to kind of solidify your relationship?  I know you guys have known each other for a long time, but to try to get that communication going between the two of you before you actually got into competition, did you guys do anything like that?

JEFF GORDON:  I mean, gosh, to me, I was just highly motivated.  I mean, the thing happened pretty fast.  I think Rick could probably talk about it more than I could.  But it happened pretty quick.  And I've always admired Alan, always respected him.  I go back, probably even when Kyle was driving for us, I remember having conversations with Alan about things that they were doing and I was like, you know, he just    I like the way he talked about things, I like the ideas that he had and the things that they were doing.

And I liked him even more, because this is a young Kyle Busch.  That's what we always say around Hendrick Motor Sports, that's a young Kyle Busch.  Young Kyle Busch was a handful.  I could remember every weekend, they would be fast and he would hit the wall and they would spend most of their time fixing the car in practice.  To see him go through, knowing they are building fast race cars, but to be able to handle himself the way he handled those situations with a young Kyle Busch, was impressive.

So I've always admired him.  And then when I got a chance to be over there and I came in and he's just business; I mean, here's what we are doing, what we are working on, I've got an idea on seat and dash and we are going to test here and we are going to test here.  And I'm like, yeah, I'm on board, man, whatever you need.  Whatever you need.

And to see the whole atmosphere in the shop, that solidified it for me.  I didn't think he and I had to have some sit down conversation about, hey, here is how I talk and here is what I do.  To me, it was just more about the work that was being put into it.


Q.  Were you confident that you would catch Kyle and pass them?

JEFF GORDON:  None of them came into play.  Regardless I was going to be happy with today, to me, to have a car that that was that good and to perform like we did through all of the different things, hitting the wall, the debris on the grill, having to lead the race and go, you mean, I've got to let off and get behind guy to get the grill clean and lose the lead?  I mean, I just couldn't believe that that happened.

And it happened twice.

So at that point I was like, I think we have got a car that can win this race.  But even if we finish second, I'm going to be pretty happy with our performance.  It's a great step for us.  But as the run went on, you know, again, going back to being able to put pressure on Kyle, I started chipping away at him and when you put pressure on a guy that's leading and you start creeping up on him, you see them trying harder and harder and hanging the car out ask doing things that allows you to gain more confidence in your car and what you're doing.

That's all I was thinking about.  All I was thinking about was don't make mistake.  Take advantage of him in the areas that your car is strong and his isn't and that's what I did and I was able to get to him and I got to him off of four and he slipped up a little bit and I got my nose underneath him.  At that point, I really thought that it was going to take some side by side swapping positions, him being on my door, getting me loose, and I thought I was going to have to go back behind him and keep trying after him.  You know, the way it worked out, I got by him way easier than I thought that I would.  Even though we did bang a little bit.

When you have a car like that, you're not thinking about what's happened in the past.  You're thinking about right now what you have, go get it and that's what I was able to think about today.


Q.  I know in the past you've always talked about how important it is to get a win early in the season, you've been a big proponent of that.  Now that you have that off your back what does that allow to you do and how can that help this team move forward and grow that maybe you didn't have that situation last year?  Can you compare and contrast that?  Forgive me, I don't know if I've heard this story about Cale Yarborough.

JEFF GORDON:  All right.  Where do I start.  What was the first part of your question?  I'm somebody that's really big on winning early, and the reason I say that is because to me, there was a lot of pressure on us not just this year winning early but going back the last 66 races that we have not had a win.

So there was a lot of pressure.  When you get it out of the way early, what it allows to you do, you're already just trying so hard to win, but to have the added pressure that you have not won in 66 races.  You hear it from the media, you hear it from the fans, and it's hard to ignore that.  It's on all of us.  I think that when you've had the success that we have had in the past    I guess every race car driver knows that there's going to be that time in their life when they are not going to go to victory lane again and you don't know when that time is going to come.  I was so hoping that time was not for me now.

I felt like I still have it in me.  I know how passionate I am about it.  But things have changed in the sport.  The cars have changed.  Tires have changed.  Competition has changed.  So when you go through a streak of without winning, you think, okay, is it me or what is it.  Days like today allow you to gain that confidence in yourself, just keep doing what you're doing, what's gotten to you victory lane in the past, keep giving that good information and when the tools around you and the chemistry is there throughout the whole team and good decisions are made, days like today will happen.

As far as Cale, when I was racing for Bill Davis in the Nationwide Series, I got a call from Cale.  And he asked me if I would test his car at Charlotte, the Phillips '66, I think it was a Pontiac.  And I ask Bill Davis because I was sort of under contract at that time, this was before I went to Rick.  Actually I think it might have been my first year in Nationwide, not sure exactly when it came out.  But I was flattered, thought it was really cool to get the opportunity.  And he wanted me to drive his car at North Wilkesboro two or three weeks after that and I said, I'll test for you.  And I told Bill that was the deal, can I could just test and feel what a Cup car is like.  And I couldn't race for him, Ford would have had issues anyway.  He said go get some experience.

I spun out on the first lap and shader came over to me and said, I think that thing is bombing out, make sure they raise it up, I think that's why he spun.  So we raced it and I didn't spin the rest of the day.  I got that call from Cale, which blew me away and then the interaction with him as a team owner, testing his car, and I'll never forget that moment, that opportunity was something that I was very proud of.


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Posted on: February 13, 2011 6:02 pm
Edited on: February 13, 2011 9:09 pm

Audio tracks: Daytona 500 qualifying

Daytona 500 pole day qualifying | Duel 1 lineup | Duel 2 lineup

Listen to the post-qualifying news conferences of Daytona 500 front-row starters Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon.

Pole-sitter Dale Earnhardt Jr. and crew chief Steve Letarte (23 minutes, 28 seconds)

Second-place qualifier Jeff Gordon (18 minutes, 41 seconds)

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