New Hampshire: Post-Race Press Conference Transcript
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET - FINISHED 3RD:
KERRY THARP: Jeff Gordon joins Jimmie right now. Jeff was third place in the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports. Both two Hendrick drivers finished two, three here today.
Jeff, certainly coming back with a stronger performance today at New Hampshire. Talk about your run.
JEFF GORDON: Yeah, it was a great performance. Certainly helped qualifying on the pole, getting that No. 1 pit stall. That was important. We had good pit stops, good pit calls and strategy and then good adjustments.
We weren't very good at the start of the race, but we hung in there with our track position and then we made an adjustment about halfway through the race that wasn't very good for the short runs, but it seemed to maintain pretty good on the longer runs. So allowed us to get up there into fourth and then that restart, we were able to jump into third.
Q. Can you describe the swing of emotions here, coming out of Chicago, having endured a difficult time there, and then coming back here to New Hampshire; and now putting yourself in contention here, obviously coming out, doing what you needed to do.
JEFF GORDON: Yeah, today was crucial to have that kind of a finish and result.
You know, it's just on one hand you look at it and say, man, we let a Top‑5 get away from us. Last week we were running fourth when we had the problem; and then this week we come back and finish third.
So, you know we are just going to fight from here on out and try to get some consistent finishes and win races and fight and battle. I mean, this team has gotten kind of used to this stuff all year long. We just have had everything thrown at us this year, and I think it's made us stronger and more prepared to handle these type of things, even when the pressure is on for the championship.
So you know, it allowed us to come in here, sit on the pole and finish third and have a good weekend and take that ‑‑ I don't know, wherever we are going next week ‑‑
KERRY THARP: Dover.
JEFF GORDON: Dover, yeah. Take it there.
Q. Did anybody have anything for Hamlin throughout the race, once he got to the point in clean air, was anybody going to catch him?
JEFF GORDON: No. I don't think that thing boggled all day.
Q. How can one guy be that dominant? Seemed like he was the only guy who could pass out there when he wanted to?
JEFF GORDON: I'm not sure they know what to look for.
Q. You said yesterday, you need a bit of a miracle to close in on the Chase in the remaining nine races; does that change with the result today?
JEFF GORDON: No, we are still 46 points back, so we are going to need some help and ‑‑
KERRY THARP: 45 points.
JEFF GORDON: Whatever, 45 man.
JEFF GORDON: Goodness. We are going to have to win a lot and gain a lot and keep these top results like today going, and then like you said we are going to have to need some help.
So we still ‑‑ this is the first step to process. I mean, this is definitely what we needed to do here today and it's great. And you know, we'll try to keep this going and hopefully we can win some races along the way, as well.
But you know, it's still going to take a miracle for us to win the championship. I mean, you've got guys like Jimmie, Keselowski and Hamlin; I mean, these are guys that have been strong all year. You know, Jimmie's won five championships. These guys are not going to make huge mistakes.
But we have to go and race every race. There's a lot of racing and a lot of different tracks that a lot can happen at. So this is step one and we'll go to the next one.
Q. Given the strengths of the guys you're against and given the fact that you say you need wins, is there any tinge of regret that you didn't win today or are you just happy ‑‑
JEFF GORDON: You're never happy with anything other than a win. You know I felt like we got the most out of it. I felt like we were about the fourth or fifth‑place car and we came home third. I felt like we did our job today and that's what you have to do. That's what good teams do: On the days that you're capable of winning, you'd better go win, and on the days that you're third, you'd better finish third or better. Today I felt like we were a fifth‑place car and we finished third. So job well done.
Q. You said I think on Friday that Denny was probably going to drive up through the field; that you figured just because he was starting 32 was not going to be a huge hindrance to him. What's it like to have a car so dominant on Friday, and not mess it up by the time the race comes and throughout the race? How difficult is that for a driver?
JEFF GORDON: Yeah, he gave us a little optimism on Friday qualifying that maybe they could mess it up for the race.
I don't know, it's been a long time since I've had a car that dominant and won with it. I've kind of forgot what it's like, but I have had them and I've seen others have them. It's certainly an amazing feeling and it gives you a lot of confidence and allows you to make smart moves. You can still lose the race, but you know, certainly makes your day go a lot easier when your car is that strong. You don't have to take big risks. You can take your time coming up through there. Usually like Jimmie was saying, guys move out of your way when they see you're that fast, so it actually makes passing that much easier. He had, from where I could see, what I could see, he had it pretty easy today.
Q. I know you want to talk your great run, so forgive me here. What's it like when a team just is so consistently good, the way that the 48 has been for so many years. They find themselves in the points lead again in the Chase; how does the field react to that?
JEFF GORDON: Well, it's definitely ‑‑ I think it gives them a big advantage. Certainly it allows the competition to get down ‑‑ beat mentally as well as on the racetrack. That gives you an upper ‑‑ even another edge.
These guys, they are just so strong, you don't expect them to make mistakes; when they are in this position, you expect them to be strong week‑in and week‑out and they are going to be tough to beat. They are just that good. The whole group, it's just everything clicks. They have had that from early on and it took them a few years to win a championship but I always knew, once they won one, watch out. That's how it's always been since they won their first championship. They just have so much confidence in what they are doing and the cars and the racetracks, and especially the ten in the Chase, it's a combination that is really difficult to beat.
And so you know, after these first ‑‑ I mean, just the season that they have had the first two finishes, I think that just builds confidence and sends a message to the competitors that you're definitely going to have to deal with this team for the championship.
We have seen others make a run at them, but when they are in this kind of zone, they have not been beat. You know, I think what the 11 did was pretty big today, but he's going to have to do that for eight more weeks.
KERRY THARP: Jimmie and Jeff, congratulations, outstanding run and we'll see you at Dover.
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