Bristol: Qualifying Notes
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 2ND
“Gosh I’m still excited. In practice we were pretty good, but we needed a little bit more and again just a great team effort and communication by this Drive To End Hunger Chevy SS team. We are just so thrilled to get a front row start here at Bristol. That means a lot. I know it wasn’t a pole, Kevin (Harvick) put up a great lap. I thought I had a really good lap that first run out. I came on the radio and I said ‘that is all I got.’ When you go do that and the car is well balanced and you get a good lap you know that it’s up to somebody else to just take a little more risk and maybe get it and Kevin did. Hats off to them and another great start to a weekend for this team. To go to Watkins Glen, Michigan and then back to Bristol and be this competitive is just a real testament to how great this team is and that No. 24 Chevrolet.”
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 2ND:
IT WAS A SOLID QUALIFYING LAP. TALK ABOUT THAT
“It was a great day. I thought our car was a little bit better in race trim than it was in qualifying trim when we swapped over. There are tricky conditions, very tricky conditions here. When you’re running up top and putting the car on the edge of that rubber and all the tire debris that’s on the outside of that and the dust, you don’t want to jump over it. We saw it happen with a couple of the guys. I think the track really fooled a lot of guys and luckily it didn’t fool this No. 24 team. They did an awesome job tuning on it. I was just really happy with the balance and how the car was getting through the corners. We were able to put up two really solid laps. I don’t know. I thought we did it; I really did. I thought we had enough (to win the pole). That was a good lap. And so, that just tells you how good of a lap (pole winner) Kevin (Havrick) had, and it was close. But he did an awesome job. We’re really proud of this effort to be on that front row.”
YOU TALKED ABOUT THE TREACHEROUS NATURE OF THE TRACK. IT LOOKED LIKE YOU WERE READY TO GO THERE AT THE END?
“We went again. We went a second time in the last session. There was really no time after that to cool it down. It just wasn’t quite there you know. The first time out was better for me. That was a heck of a lap and it was going to be hard to beat that lap. We tried. But, it just wasn’t quite there. And I don’t think we had enough time to go back out for a third time.”
COMING OFF A WIN, AND GETTING A FRONT ROW HERE, DOES THE REVITALIZATION OF JEFF GORDON CONTINUE? DOES THE MOMENTUM KEEP ON GOING WITH A FRONT ROW STARTING SPOT AT BRISTOL, WHERE YOU USED TO BE SO DOMINATE?
“I don’t know about all the revitalization and all that stuff, but I just know that I have a great team and we’re clicking so well together right now and the results are showing. It builds a lot of confidence in your program when you go to Watkins Glen and sit on the pole and run up front, and you go to Michigan and sit on the pole and win, and then you come here and sit on the front row. Those are about as three unique tracks to one another as you can get. It just shows you how good our cars and our team is right now. It makes me proud that those guys believe in me as well. We’re just having a lot of fun together right now.”
YEAR AFTER YEAR, DRIVERS THINK THEY’VE GONE AS FAST AS THEY POSSIBLY CAN. HOW CLOSE DO YOU THINK WE ARE AT THE TOP AT BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY?
“Well, the drivers are going as fast as they can, but the car obviously isn’t (laughs). I think it’s really just a testament to the teams. Of course tires do make a big difference in the tire that we had last time we were here. The last time we were here, we qualified around the bottom. And I think we know the top is faster, but sometimes you can’t get the car to grip up-top, there, for qualifying, with the tires cold. But with this new format and the conditions today and this tire, it seems like you were really able to take advantage of that top and that’s, to me, where those fast speeds came from. I don’t know. It depends on what NASCAR does in the future. I don’t know if we’ll ever go this fast again. But, the teams find a way to engineer and so does Goodyear and we go faster.”
ON REVITALIZATION, YOU ARE HAVING QUITE A YEAR WHEN MANY PEOPLE THOUGHT YOUR BEST YEARS WERE BEHIND YOU. IS THERE SOMETHING DIFFERENT THIS YEAR? WHAT’S GOING ON?
“You guys (media) thought my best years were behind me. I didn’t think that. I say it’s not revitalization because I don’t feel like I went anywhere. I feel like my work ethic has improved and my fitness has improved and I’m just working with the team on communication and all those things have improved. But the results weren’t always there. And this year, we’ve got the car and the team and it started that way. We started the season off really strong. I can go all the way back to California and we were just so strong there. We’ve been able to build on that and that’s the only thing that’s different. I have more confidence right now and it’s just because of our results.”
TALK ABOUT THE FITNESS PART
“Guys like Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson keep themselves really fit and when they’re getting good results, and then you’ve got to go to work. I’m not at the level of those guys, but I’m not getting any younger and it’s important; mainly it’s just cardio and stretching because of my back and those muscles just getting tighter and tighter all the time. Just staying loose. I try to ride a bike as much as I can during the week. What I do is like what Carl does on his warm-up (laughter). I’m just doing what I can, that’s all.”
ON THE CHALLENGING CONDITIONS OF THE BRISTOL TRACK, WHAT’S MORE DIFFICULT THAT MAKES IT TRICKY?
“We used to run around the bottom. It had its own challenges, but there was a lot of forgiveness outside of that bottom lane. Here, if you get stuck in the bottom, you’re going to go backwards. There’s just not enough grip down there. I’ll be honest. I don’t agree with the grinding up top. I prefer it not to be there. I think the racing would be even better without it because now the preferred lane is up top. You get up there and it’s hard to get by guys. But, it in some ways, might bring back some of the excitement that the fans really like because it’s really hard to pass up there. So, in order to pass, you’re either going to have to slide-job the guy or run into the guy, or girl. You’re going to have to be super aggressive on restarts and I think it’s going to create some sparks and some tempers flaring and plenty of action. But, you’ve got to be real careful on that outside lane. I love running up there because it reminds me of a slick dirt track but with a big cushion. You just drive it really straight and just put it right on the edge; and when you’re there, it’s great grip and when you jump over it, you’re in the fence. So it’s definitely challenging.”