At Charlotte Motor Speedway, Jeff Gordon Captures 74th Career Pole
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 AXALTA CHEVROLET SS - POLE WINNER:
IT WAS EXCITING TO WATCH. HOW EXCITING WAS IT TO DRIVE A LAP LIKE THAT?
"Man, that was awesome. It's been a while since we've had a pole here at Charlotte as well as doing it in that fashion. The way that the draw was today, there's a lot of fast cars going late in qualifying. But when you didn't see the lap times picking up as much as we thought they were going to, I didn't know if that late draw was going to really be a big factor. But I saw that the guys ahead of me were putting down good laps and I knew the grip was there and what the car did in practice. And the guys just did a phenomenal job on our Axalta Chevrolet all day long making good adjustments. The car just did everything I wanted it to do."
SO MANY GUYS' TIME DROPPED OFF BETWEEN TURNS 3 AND 4, PARTICULARLY OFF TURN 4. YOUR'S DIDN'T. YOU REALLY GOT OFF THE CORNER GOOD. DID YOU FEEL THAT?
"Well we got through (Turns) 3 and 4 good in practice. But I thought I was a little bit tight. They freed the car up a little bit and I thought there was a little bit I could do to help my car in (Turns) 1 and 2. As long as the guys helped it turn in 3 and 4, I thought it would be a good lap. There was a lot of speed and a lot of security and it allowed me to have a lot of confidence.
"When I went through (Turns) 1 and 2 as good as it did, I thought all you can do is be committed at this point and hope that it sticks. The front end just kept cutting and I knew a lot of guys were getting tight and I just kept pushing the throttle down and it just carried great speed. But I didn't know if it was going to be enough and then I found out how close it really was and that was pretty amazing."
JEFF GORDON IS POLE WINNER AT CHARLOTTE
TEAM CHEVY DRIVERS TAKE EIGHT OF TOP 10 STARTING SPOTS
Jeff Gordon put his No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet SS at the front of the field with a fast qualifying lap of 27.791 seconds, 194.308 mph to claim the pole for Saturday night's Bank of America 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
"Our No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet was fast in practice," said Gordon. "We were fourth fastest and made two really solid qualifying runs. And to me, that was more important than going out 43rd (to qualify). It was an added bonus to go out late. It's just one of those things where the car builds confidence in me. And when we go out there together (as a team) and win a pole, it builds confidence back in the team. There is nothing greater than when it's all on the line and all the pressure is there. You're the final car to go. There's nothing worse than letting them down, and nothing better than stepping up and knocking it out of the park."
This marked his 74th career pole in 720 Sprint Cup races for the four-time champion, the second of the 2013 season. Gordon earned his first career pole at Charlotte Motor Speedway on this very day (Oct. 10th) in 1993, and became the youngest pole winner at the track at his age of 22 years, 2 months, 6 days. The record still stands.
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 AXALTA CHEVROLET SS - POLE WINNER
TALK ABOUT THIS QUALIFYING EFFORT THAT YOU HAVE PUT FORTH HERE THIS EVENING:
"That was an exciting qualifying effort regardless whether we are on the pole, just all those fast cars that were going late and just the times just dropping. It was interesting because typically when we qualify here at night you see the temperatures drop track temp drops, speeds drop tremendously from practice, but we had such overcast skies today that the track was in almost as good of qualifying conditions then. It was in great condition and the speeds were there and the grip was there so we just had to make a few adjustments to try to make the car a little bit better. Those adjustments certainly worked and that late draw certainly is always good just seeing what the other guys are doing, the grip level, what the track conditions are. I felt confident all day in the car. It just had good grip, was doing the things I wanted it to do and to then go out there and know that the pressure is on you after the car ahead of you just sits on the pole and you are battling with those guys for the championship. To go out there and step it up and get the pole was really exciting. To do it here in Charlotte as well, I think it's been awhile since we've won a pole here. Man it feels so good. Very proud of this team they deserve a lot of credit. They gave me a fantastic car not just today but they have been bringing them for the last several weeks. That is making it a lot of fun for us."
HOW MUCH ON THE RAGGED EDGE WERE YOU? YOU SEEM TO HAVE SO MUCH MORE ENERGY LATELY AND SO MUCH MORE ENTHUSIASM CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THAT?
"That is what happens when your cars are feeling good. That is the thing it's really hard to maintain your confidence in what you are doing and the team as well when you are struggling, when you are struggling in qualifying, you are struggling in the race. I felt like all year long we have been racing better than we have been qualifying but qualifying was a weakness for us. We needed to get better track position. I mentioned that earlier in the year. It's hard not to get down when things aren't going well. You are putting a great race together and something happens whether you make a mistake or the team does or a failure or whatever it may be when that keeps happening week after week it's hard to come in here all bubbly and having fun because it wasn't fun. The reason that I'm like this now is because we never gave up. That is why I give this team a lot of credit they really stepped up. Our set-ups are just suiting my driving style and the things that I like to feel in the car. The cars are just giving me good feedback and it's because they work so hard through the summer to make improvements. Watching what other teams are doing, learning from our teammates as well as just applying ourselves in the things that we are doing. Each week now I'm just building that confidence because those cars are giving me that confidence.
"You are always on the edge here qualifying. You've got to push it hard, but the car really was good. I feel like my biggest fear was losing the front not the back. I came to the green and the car stuck really good through (turns) three and four coming to the green so I knew what I wanted to do in (turns) one and two where I lost a little speed in practice. That went well for me down there and I thought 'okay that was pretty good I don't know if it was good enough, but it was pretty good now don't screw up (turns) three and four' and in (turns) three and four I just really wanted to get that front end down to the white line and keep it there. I saw a lot of guys slide their nose and that was a problem that we had in practice. I think the adjustments the team made really helped because I was able to just keep squeezing in the throttle and the front end stayed down and the car was actually pretty stable and felt great. You know you are always right there on the edge at any time around Charlotte on a qualifying lap."
IN TURNS THREE AND FOUR THAT IS WHERE GREG (BIFFLE) AND KEVIN (HARVICK) SAID THEY REALLY LOST IT IF THEY HAD POLE SPEED. IS THAT SOMETHING YOU WATCHED THROUGHOUT QUALIFYING AND YOU KNEW YOU HAD TO HIT (TURNS) THREE AND FOUR TO GET THE POLE?
"Well that is where we were off a little bit in practice. I feel like that our car was tight through there and we tried to make some adjustments from our last qualifying run. We have dartfish. I don't know if all of you guys know what dartfish is where they lay your laps over other competitors and do like a ghost video. Actually my three and four was one of my better corners. It was actually (turns) one and two I needed to work with the most, but it still felt like we needed to make an adjustment. We made that adjustment, I made an adjustment in what I was doing in (turns) one and two and it just brought the corners together. I don't know if those guys were losing time because they were rushing back to the throttle or because the car was just tight, but again I think I was a little more patient than I wanted to be down there, but also when I got back to the throttle I was able to get to it and stay in it and keep accelerating so I felt like I carried good speed off of (turn) four and yeah I watched them in qualifying, but that doesn't change what your car is doing. It might have changed my approach a slight bit, but the car has got to stick that is the bottom line."
DO YOU WATCH WHAT YOUR TEAMMATES DO ON THEIR QUALIFYING LAPS MORE BECAUSE YOU KIND OF HAVE A LITTLE BIT OF AN IDEA WHAT IS IN THEIR CARS AND WHAT DO YOU THINK WHEN THREE OF THEM WERE IN THE TOP FIVE WHEN YOU WENT OFF?
"Certainly being in the same shop as the No. 5 car we know exactly what all of our teammates have, but we also work probably a little bit closer with Kenny (Francis) and so when he went early we knew what he had in practice. We thought going out early certainly was going to hurt him a little bit, but his comments backed up what we were kind of seeing in practice and it seemed like that was a trend that we saw. I didn't really get to watch much other than on the little monitor. The No. 88 I didn't get to see the No. 48 really at all, but we pay attention to them very closely because we do know what set-ups and balance on our sim computers and what it shows and what our car should be. It's not always 100 percent accurate, but it's usually pretty close. That definitely gives us direction and we can still make minor air pressure adjustments sitting there on pit road. That is to me one of the biggest advantages of going out late is just seeing what the track is doing and knowing what our balance was and what adjustments maybe we need to make. Sometimes that takes you in the wrong path, you make the wrong adjustments, but sometimes you make the right ones. I don't know if we made any tonight, but the car certainly did what I wanted it to."
WHEN YOU SAW WHAT YOU HAD TO DO TO WIN THE POLE KNOWING YOU WERE THE LAST GUY OUT DID YOU THINK 'YOU KNOW I CAN DO THAT'? OR DID YOU THINK ' THAT IS GOING TO BE AWFULLY HARD TO BEAT'?
"I didn't know what Kevin (Harvick) ran because he was the car right in front of me. I just saw he got the pole. I could see the pylon. I looked out my window when he went by and I saw he was first. I knew that it was better than whatever Kasey (Kahne) ran which he ran a 27.87 (seconds) and so I knew that I was going to have to run at least a couple of tenths faster than I did or at least a tenth faster than I did in practice. I was just thinking more of where did I leave that on the race track in practice and then you go down in (turns) three and four when the car sticks that is one step closer. The car gives you confidence it sticks you go 'okay that is good' carried good speed to the start/finish line and into turn one. I made my arc in there and when it takes that set you get back in the throttle if it gives you good feedback you just keep feeding the throttle and then you think down the back straightaway what you need to do for the next corner and hope it sticks. Luckily tonight it did."
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