New Hampshire: Post-Race Notes
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET SS - FINISHED 15TH
YOU LED 36 LAPS AND THEN THERE WAS THAT PIT STOP. TAKE US THROUGH WHAT HAPPENED
"I'm highly disappointed in myself. The team put me in a great position. We had a decent car and then track position made it into a great car. So it was obviously important to maintain that. I just came in and slid through. I hadn't come close to sliding through all day and I guess just leading, I carried a little bit more speed in there and crossed the splitter over the line by an inch and that's all it takes to make a difference between a chance at winning and finishing 15th."
YOU WERE ABLE TO SALVAGE A 15TH PLACE FINISH. IT'S STILL EARLY IN THE CHASE. WHAT'S YOUR MINDSET HEADED TO DOVER?
"Well, I'm excited with the way we're performing. Chicago was great and this weekend was great and we just keep that up; we're not far out of fourth. We lost quite a bit of ground to those guys up front but not too much as far as getting in the top 5 in points. I think we are very capable of doing it but the driver can't make mistakes. Today was one of the days. This is a short race. Track position is so important. You can't make mistakes. I made a crucial one and I can't allow that to happen if we're going to get ourselves in the top 5 in points this year."
HOW DO YOU CLEAR YOUR HEAD AFTER A DAY LIKE TODAY?
"Oh, I've been doing this for 20-some years, man. It's not like I've never made mistakes before but you just hate to make them at a crucial time like that. So I'm very disappointed. And I'll be disappointed until we get to Dover and start working on Dover."
YOU DIDN'T KNOW YOU WERE OVER THE LINE?
"I knew it was close. When I got in there, the front started to slide. And I knew I was carrying a little bit more speed. I knew it was going to be close but I was hoping it would stop just at the line. I saw the official react and I knew we were in trouble."
FROM WHERE YOU WERE ON THE TRACK THEN, IN 22ND, WHERE DID YOU THINK YOU COULD POSSIBLY FINISH?
"Oh, a top 10. That caution hurt us in general. We didn't need that caution to come when it did. So, that was taking us out of sync for what was going to work best for our pit strategy anyway. So, we were already going to be behind but there is a big difference between starting say 12th and 22nd. We lost a lot of spots to the other guys that took four tires and who knows how much that made a difference, but it was a bunch."
WHEN A MOMENT LIKE THAT HAPPENS AND YOU HAVE THAT GOOD OF A CAR, WHAT GOES THROUGH YOUR HEAD? WAS IT OH, DAMN, I MIGHT HAVE JUST GIVEN ONE AWAY?
"Well, I knew just from the way that the race was going, that passing was near impossible. And my car was a good race car, but it wasn't a good passing car; not to mention the absolute chaos that goes on. The guys were four and five-wide running all over one another. Just being in the mix of that and trying to battle your way through each position was difficult enough. But our car, being back there, just different have the handling characteristics that we needed to pass cars. We had the handling characteristics of a car that needed good track position and we had it until I messed up."
HOW DO SIZE UP THE FIELD NOW?
"Well, I mean if (Matt) Kenseth keeps doing what he's doing, it's not going to matter what anybody else does. For us, we have to be realistic and look at our points position and outcome and right now we're not that far out of fourth, so that's a realistic goal for us right now. But anything is possible. We go to these next several races and go on a tear, who knows? But we're higher in points than where we started this thing, so we'll just keep that going."
DID YOU EXPECT MATT KENSETH TO BE THIS STRONG?
"I knew they would be strong, but I thought this would be one track that we might have a little bit of an advantage on him. But then I saw the times that he was running yesterday in practice and I was like uh, oh; they've got their act together pretty good. And he was strong today. I thought he was beatable, but they didn't make any mistakes and were really good. Hat's off to them. That was a great job and they're on a roll. Like I said, now we're going to Dover and that's a great track for him. So, yeah, they're definitely the team to beat right now."
HOW MUCH BETTER DO YOU FEEL AFTER THIS RACE COMPARED TO LAST WEEK AND HEADED TOWARD DOVER?
"Last week stung it still stings pretty good. If we would have won today it might of helped a little bit, but we dug a pretty deep hole. When Matt (Kenseth) and the No. 48 and No. 18 are running like they are I'm not going to catch them running sixth. So, we've got to do better."
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