Martinsville: Post-Race Press Conference Transcript
KERRY THARP: Jeff Gordon has joined us. Jeff finished third today. Jeff drives the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports, and Jeff, talk about your run, certainly battling for the win out there, but how did it look from your seat?
JEFF GORDON: It was an exciting day for us. You know, same thing kind of what Clint said, we were a little bit tighter when the race started than we anticipated, but we also burned the rear tires off of it the first couple runs.
Luckily that improved, and I made a bonehead move and overshot my pit stall and cost us a bunch of positions. I was just sitting back there not passing anybody, not going anywhere thinking, uh‑oh, I've really screwed us up. The long run we made a couple of adjustments and freed the car up and the long run came and our car was unbelievable in that long run. I obviously didn't want to see a short run there at the end, but you know it's pretty typical; it's going to happen at Martinsville. I think third was a great finish for us, and happy to bring home third.
We needed the points. We needed a good solid run. The 48, you give him that No. 1 pit stall at Martinsville, and I mean, it's almost near impossible to beat him.
Q. Jeff, with the victory today with Jimmie, that gives Hendrick Motorsports its 20th victory, breaks a tie with Petty for most all‑time here at Martinsville. You and Jimmie have combined for 15 of those victories. Can you talk about the dominance Hendrick has had here and what it means to hold that milestone?
JEFF GORDON: I'm guessing Hendrick has got something figured out pretty good here. You know, I mean, the first time I drove for Rick, I knew how good their equipment was everywhere we went. The teams, they just do such a good job from the entire ‑‑ through the depth of the organization, from the engineering and how we build the chassis and everything that we do. We hit on some things years ago for us here, but they had success prior to me getting there, and then I think the 48 has been able to take that success that we had and really build on that, as well.
And Jimmie, he just has really figured this place out. There's just certain tracks where the drivers that Hendrick has had over the past as well as now and just our race cars, it just really suits that. Like I said, qualifying up front really can be huge here. You get a driver like Jimmie and a team like the 48, or ours, as well, or the 15, you put them on the pole in that No. 1 pit stall, it's going to be really, really hard to beat them.
The next thing we've got to work on now is trying to qualify better. But that's awesome. I'm so proud to be a part of Hendrick. Happy for Rick. I got to see him out there, and I know that these types of stats and records really mean a lot to him, you know, and he deserves it. They've got an awesome organization and work very hard at it. It's great to be a part of that.
Q. Jeff, finally it seemed like there was that moment where it was like, oh, man, we're going to have a bad day and then you managed to battle back. How important is that just looking at the season as a whole to have that kind of turnaround today?
JEFF GORDON: Yeah, when it happened I was pretty disappointed because I made the mistake, and we know how ‑‑ you've got to be flawless at a track like this, and it just seemed like it was tough to pass. When you get that far back in traffic.
At first I was disappointed in myself, and I thought, well, we've got a good car, we can make it up through there, and they dropped the green and I went backwards and I wasn't passing anybody, and I thought, uh‑oh, I've really put ourselves in a hole here. Luckily we had a long run, and like I said, we made some good adjustments, and we just started picking them off one by one, and the car was unbelievable on that long run.
You know, we can't afford to do those things. I can't be making those mistakes, and we can't have those mistakes made, and that's just how crucial it is in the sport today as competitive as everybody is and how close the cars are. You know, we kind of got fortunate today.
Q. Jeff, on pit road you mentioned something about this being like old school Martinsville. Was that in reference to the tires? And it seemed that many of the people who raced yesterday and today seemed to like the falloff of the tires. Do you think that's headed in the right direction?
JEFF GORDON: Yeah, I do. I didn't like it at lap 60 on the first run because it seemed like some others had it figured out a little bit better than we did. But as the race went on and the wear got a little bit better, then it seemed like ‑‑ and the adjustments we made, we were very competitive. I do like the falloff. I like how you've got to manage how hard you push it at the beginning versus ‑‑ and the grip level, how it goes away and you've got to really use your foot to keep from spinning the tires.
So that is kind of old school Martinsville that I grew up with, and I do like that. I think it brings more of the driver into play, even though it seemed like air pressure kind of helped that. I think we all started maybe a little bit too high on rear pressure. But yeah, that was fun.
I'd like to see that more. Durability is a big deal, especially on the bigger, higher speed tracks, and so they're limited on what they can do, especially on the repaves. But on these older tracks, it's kind of encouraging to know that they can build a tire that can withstand long runs but does fall off and wears a little bit. I'd like to see more of that.
KERRY THARP: Thank you very much. Good luck next week at Texas.
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