NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500
Topics: Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500
March 29, 2010
KERRY THARP: We'll roll into our post race interviews. We're joined in our media center by third-place finisher Jeff Gordon. He drives the No. 24 Dupont Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports.
Jeff, certainly an interesting race out there this afternoon. Maybe take us through the final few laps.
JEFF GORDON: I mean, we were just trying to hang on there on the old tires. You know, I was pretty happy with the way the day went other than getting shuffled back on the outside on the restarts. It was really, really tough out there on restarts if you weren't on the inside lane.
We played a lot of catch-up from that most of the day. Our car was pretty good. We had to make adjustments for it in traffic. Made us really have to loosen the car up.
We were just kind of riding there at the end, going to come home third, then that caution came out, leaders came in. Steve Letarte made a great call to stay out. When we heard about all the cars that stayed out behind us, we felt we were definitely the car to beat for the win.
Then we had the restart. Had a good restart. Everything was great. We were a hundred feet away from getting that white flag, getting the victory. So that's frustrating. But I shouldn't be too upset. We were a third-place car before that, we finished third. I'm not exactly sure what happened on the restart, that last restart. I got an okay restart. Spun the tires a little bit, got going. I looked at my mirror, 17 was pretty far behind me. Made sure I didn't drive in too deep. Next thing I know, I got nailed. I don't know who got into me. I thought it was the 17. If it wasn't, I apologize to him. I made sure he didn't win the race down the straightaway.
KERRY THARP: Our runner-up is Joey Logano. Joey, take us through the final few laps for the 20 car.
JOEY LOGANO: It was pretty crazy. I felt like we had a seventh- or eighth-place car all day. I felt like we needed to do good on restarts. I feel like on new tires we were too tight. Never took off. But it paid off at the end of a run and we were able to drive up closer to the front. Hung around there all day, which coming down to the end, we started fifth. That's where you need to be. The bottom is definitely where you needed to be. It was definitely a big deal. Just seemed like everyone was rooting and gouging, I just kept filling holes. That was the big deal for us.
Good to give JGR a 1-2 finish. Cool for Denny and to follow him to Victory Lane.
KERRY THARP: We'll take questions, please.
Q. Jeff, I realize that you would have been happy with a third-place finish had the caution not come out, nice accomplishment. Something outside of your control goes wrong, you raise your expectations, do you feel you could use a break for a change?
JEFF GORDON: I mean, yes and no. I feel like you have to earn those things. If we just keep working hard, putting good racecars and a great race team out there each and every week, those breaks go your way. I've been on both sides of it. There's times when you're not really sure if you deserve some of those breaks, but you know you're working hard, you take them. There's times when you wish you got more breaks.
It was pretty obvious to me NASCAR wanted to do a green-white-checkered finish. There were cars blowing tires, hitting the wall, they weren't throwing the caution. One spins out, and they threw the caution in the blink of an eye. I think it was pretty obvious what they wanted.
You got to go with what their decisions are. It's a Monday race. A lot of fans came out here. So certainly a great finish for them. Just unfortunate it took away an opportunity for us because we definitely had that win had the caution not come out there at the end.
Then again, you look at the Gibbs cars, they were 1-2 when the caution came out. You know, that could have gone the opposite way for them. So you can't really get upset when those breaks don't go your way.
Q. Jeff, Matt said afterwards, the 24 never gives him room, the next time things will be different. Was the contact between you and him basically what took it out of your hands?
JEFF GORDON: Well, I'd like to see. I have not seen the replay. All I know is he was behind me. I got hit and thrown up the racetrack. He was the first car to go by me. You know, again, if that wasn't him that made contact with me, then I owe him an apology. We've had our run-ins and different things.
The way he raced me today I didn't think was the way I would have raced him. But we've had our ups and our downs. But I feel like we've been past that. I certainly didn't feel like we had any issues.
If somebody hits me, I'm going to hit them. If he hit me, I'm glad I did what I did on the back straightaway. If a guy gives you a cheap shot like that, he doesn't deserve to win the race, in my opinion. If that didn't happen, and I have not seen the video, then, again, I'll be the first one to call him this week and apologize.
Q. Jeff, can you give a definition or understanding of what's a cheap shot in a green-white-checkered situation on a short track and what's allowable? Certainly those last two laps, there was a lot of action. Obviously Denny bulled his way up there.
JEFF GORDON: But Denny had four tires. That's different. He had a car that would stick and turn around, go underneath guys. He could out-brake guys. Hey, he won the race. So it doesn't matter. That's the bottom line.
You know, a cheap shot to me is when you don't really have a shot at it, you just go and rub into the back of a guy. That's what I think is a cheap shot.
Q. Jeff, I don't want to ask if you feel like you got set up by the whole thing, but when they pitted, in light of what you said about NASCAR wanting a green-white-checkered, did you think it was going to come down to that kind of scrum at the end where you and Matt would kind of get muffled out of position?
JEFF GORDON: Man, you're complicating it way too much for me. I'm just a racecar driver. I was leading, coming off turn four, really looking forward to seeing the white flag. The caution came out. I said, Oh, man, that stinks. Okay, let's get going again. Let's get a good restart. Let's get through turns one and two, see that white flag again.
You know, it is what it is. You know there's a guy in the second row with four tires. I wasn't even thinking anything about me and Matt. I knew Matt had an okay car 'cause we had been battling before that. But, you know, I was as concerned about Ryan on the outside as I was anything else.
You know, all I can tell you is you know it's gonna get wild and crazy. Doesn't mean you're gonna like it, you know. If you're the guys behind, that's what you do. You run into the back of a guy because you want to win. When you're the guy up front, you hope nobody runs into the back of you. It's that simple.
Q. Jeff and Joey, how worried were y'all at the end of the race with a lot of tires having gone down? Did you notice something on the track causing a lot of these tires to go?
JOEY LOGANO: No. I wasn't. I think most of the tires that were blowing out were either with contact or too much brake heat blowing beads out. I struggled with that last year at this race and blew out two tires. I think Joe Gibbs Racing did a great job on keeping our tires cooler this year. I felt like I was easier on the brakes this year to help that. It paid off for us.
JEFF GORDON: Yeah, I didn't really worry too much. I always worry about when you got a guy like Jeff Burton has a problem. He'd been up front all day. When he had a problem, I think I lost a 10th or two there at the end. I had just gotten by Clint Bowyer. Looked like he kind of let me have the spot because he was having some issues.
We were just kind of riding, just trying to make it to the finish. We were in a position to be able to do that. To me it's always a concern, but when you look at the cars, the problems they had, they're usually in the middle of the pack, guys, like Joey said, that had contact or they're overheating them. We hadn't had that situation in the past, so I wasn't overall concerned.
Q. Jeff, when you saw the 11 and the 18 dive to pit road with eight laps to go, what was your reaction? Did that decision surprise you to find yourself first?
JEFF GORDON: Yeah, a little bit. We didn't expect them to come in. There were so many lapped cars in between us, we had time to talk about it. I saw him peeling off. The 11 started to peel off there. I said to Steve, They're pitting. He said, You stay out. Wasn't even a second thought for us.
If we had come in, we certainly weren't going to win the race. The only chance we had to win the race was to stay out. I was pretty happy when I saw how many guys stayed out. That definitely was a big plus for us. You know, it's one of the those things. Caution comes out, we're sitting here third, mad because we got knocked around. Had the caution not come out, we would be over in Victory Lane.
That's how quick and easy things can change in this sport. You know, it's something that I'll laugh about tomorrow.
Q. Jeff, you've talked coming into this race about getting better in the second half of races. Again today, you led a lot of laps early on. Did you feel like you made the progression you needed to or is there more to work on? Joey, could you talk about the final couple laps, what you saw Denny do and how he did it.
JEFF GORDON: I did feel like we got off a little bit there towards the middle part of the race and made gains to get back up there. Yeah, I felt like we made gains.
Today was all about where you restarted. If you restarted on the outside lane, you were done. I lost like five or six spots one time just being on the outside lane. I made two of them up. Caution came out. Went back to the outside lane, lost two or three more.
To me, I almost wanted to like let off and let a car pass me on pit road or something just so I could come out odd to start on the inside lane. When I started on the inside lane, we drove right up there.
When we lost those positions, we lost track position and the car wasn't the same. When we were out front, our car was just so awesome. We never really got a chance to see what it was like towards the front there at the end. So that was a little disappointing. I felt like we made gains to get up to third or fourth before the second to the last caution.
JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, towards the end of the race, it was crazy. Like Jeff said, we knew it was going to be crazy before it went green. Denny I think was in the outside row, one lane behind me. Knew he'd be coming real hard. He cleared I think it was Newman. He was forcing his way down. I knew his car was better than me. Like Jeff said, he could out-brake us. He was able to out-brake us. That was the same lap. I don't know what happened in front of us there, but the two cars washed up. Like I said, I was just right place, right time.
I was able to restart on the bottom. Like Jeff said, that's where you need to be. Just kept filling holes when people were washing up and hitting each other. I was lucky enough not to get hit in the back, just protect the bottom, was able to come out with a good finish.
Q. Joey, can you talk about being in team meetings, how bad you sensed he wanted this right now?
JOEY LOGANO: All of us want it bad. We felt like a few races ago that Joe Gibbs Racing needs a little bit more to keep up with the Hendricks, RCR, that's doing real good right now, need to find a little bit more. We've been having team meetings at the shop going over the last few weeks, What do we need to improve on? I think us as a team is doing a better job at that stuff and after the race of having a better thorough meeting and all of us able to bounce ideas off each other.
This week I was more of a sponge trying to listen to Denny. Between him, Jeff and Jimmie, this is pretty much their stomping ground. I was trying to learn everything I can. I didn't feel like I was that good in practice. I wasn't able to put that R much into this week, but it's cool to see all of us improving together.
KERRY THARP: Guys, thank you. Congratulations. Have a good week off.
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