NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Irwin Tools Night Race
Topics: Irwin Tools Night Race
August 25, 2012
JEFF GORDON: Yeah, they were saying that we are hearing something about rubber up there, some more grip, and from that point on, it was all four tires up there on that new pavement, or the concrete that they ground. So I say they grind the whole place. Sounds awesome. I hope they do that next time.
But it was‑‑ you know what I loved about the racing tonight, even though it was really tough to pass, is it just reminded me of old school Bristol. I can remember, I believe it was '91, '92‑‑ I think it was '92, before they put concrete down, being up on top of the spotter's stand watching the Cup race, and just enjoying the heck out of it. Because Darryl and I think maybe Davey, Ernie Irvan, those guys are just running right up against the wall, diamond in the racetrack. It was hard to pass. You did slide jobs on guys when you got runs and that's what we had tonight.
So I think it was a success and I certainly had a lot of fun. I made one mistake that cost us, I think it possibly cost us the win. We had new tires on, and I was fighting pretty hard on that outside to try to maintain the position, gain some positions, and I got up high and pushed a little too hard. I thought I hit oil, but maybe I just got too loose. And I got up out of the groove, which was possible to do off of 4, and that put something on my tires down on 1 and 2 and got into the wall. And that cost us a bunch of positions and that changed our pit strategy and everything and that hurt us.
Q. You've made mention a couple of times of 1991, I think there were some mentions on it from some people on the radio and also people on TV. Was it because the line at that time, was it because more that it was asphalt and is that why people were running it that way?
JEFF GORDON: I raced here once in the Nationwide or Busch Series, when it was pavement, and I mean, back then, I think we may even have had‑‑ just the way that the cars handle and the way the track was, and you can go back, you know, prior to even that race that I saw, and that was the way that you ran this racetrack. You went in kind of at the bottom and you went up to the top, and you know, guys are smoking the right rear tire and all those things.
So that's what I'm referring to is the comparison; and because the rubber got laid down on that smoother concrete, that's what allowed us to do that. It had a lot of grip up there.
Q. Just with the wild card situation, the way it is, does it make even a solid third place run like this harder to accept just with how valuable wins have to be heading down the stretch here?
JEFF GORDON: Yeah, you know, it keeps us still in it, because one of the other guys in the wildcard didn't win it. I don't know what that's going to do with Tony Stewart. I know he had trouble. You know, I mean, I think we have all been kind of watching where if Denny or Tony fall outside the Top‑10‑‑ we have two more good opportunities, Atlanta and Richmond that we can definitely get wins at.
Q. Beyond just the 1991 comparison of how it felt more like the old Bristol in terms of the groove perspective, from the emotional and action perspective, it seems like guys were bumping each other more and you had Tony Stewart's helmet toss, did it seem more like the old Bristol in terms of emotion?
JEFF GORDON: I think the combination of that rubber laid down up there which was a preferred groove and the left side tire that Goodyear brought here it seemed to each complement that more. This tire has less stagger and doesn't allow you to roll around the bottom of the racetrack. The only way you could pass was to dive on in there and slide‑job the guy.
Sometimes you don't complete that, but if you don't complete that, it definitely will get you frustrated and lose positions and if you hit the guy, it's going to fire him up. I don't know what happened between him and Tony and Matt. I saw where Tony got into him and then after Tony got by him, Matt obviously got back into him. So you know, they are battling for the win and it was not easy to pass. I think that‑‑ I guess that's what they were trying to accomplish is make it harder to pass so you had to kind of bump the guy out of the way. There's no more bump‑and‑run, but there's definitely plenty of slide jobs and side‑by‑side action where guys are rubbing up on one another and maybe try to get in their fenders.
So, yeah, from that standpoint, it was pretty exciting.
Q. Following up, could you feel more intensity on the track than you maybe felt in the spring race, and recent races here?
JEFF GORDON: Yeah, I mean, the pace was fast. You could fly up around the top like that with all that rubber down, I don't know what kind of lap times we were running, but I hit my rev limiter every single lap, we didn't have it set right for that pace. It was fast, and it was intense, because it was so tough to pass. And any time you feel like you're better than the guy ahead you and he's holding you up and you look and the cars are lined up behind you, you're like, man, if I make a move, I'd better be sure that I've got him.
You know, I made several slide jobs and I think I completed about 90 percent of them. But that ten percent that I didn't complete, cost me quite a few positions. The restarts were intense because you're out there in the bottom and the outside groove is the preferred lane and you're sliding and pushing up hard and rubbing up on guys.
Yeah I think there's a little more intensity tonight than normal.
KERRY THARP: Jeff, thank you very much and wish you a lot of luck the next two races.
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