Kentucky: Qualifying Notes
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 3RD
ON HIS QUALIFYING EFFORT:
“Oh my gosh you never want to be satisfied unless you are on the pole or in Victory Lane, but this sort of feels like a victory for me because that first run was not pretty. I don’t know the car just didn’t do what I wanted it to do. It was so crazy we thought it was going to rain and then it didn’t. That was a pretty wild session for the Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, but those last two or three runs were just so solid. We made some good adjustments really proud of Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) and the guys on the adjustments they made. Even that final lap there I really got through (Turns) one and two good. I said ‘okay don’t mess up three and four’. I got down into three got it turned just the way I wanted to got back in the gas and the front end just did not quite stick for me. I don’t know how far off of those guys we were, but solid. That is a great place to start this race.”
IT LOOKS LIKE YOU’VE GOT A PRETTY GOOD RACE CAR THIS WEEKEND HERE IN KENTUCKY. I KNOW YOU’D LIKE TO CHECK THIS ONE OFF.
“Boy, we sure would. And we do. We have a great race car. That was an awesome qualifying session as far as I’m concerned with the No. 24 car. We’ve kind of been hit or miss with this sort of format. When we’re good and we qualify up front, we usually start good and stay pretty good but don’t seem to have it at the end. And today, we made our first run and it was not very good. And we decided to make another run. I thought it was going to rain the whole time. I have no idea where the rain went. I looked on the radar before I got in the car and there was no doubt in my mind it was going to rain, but we got the whole thing in. I’m just blown away but I’m really glad.
“I don’t like being too excited about third, because you always want to be on top and you always want to be in Victory Lane and I do; but I’m telling you that was an awesome third-place qualifying session and run for us. It’s a tough place. Our car has been good but our first run was mediocre at best. The second run was a little bit better. The third run we made was, I thought, all we had in it. And that last run, I really flew through (Turns) 1 and 2, but when I got to (Turns) 3 and 4, I got in there good, got it rotated, jumped back on the gas, but it just didn’t stick. So, I was a little disappointed with (Turns) 3 and 4, but came back third. Of course it was a long ways off from the No. 2 (Brad Keselowski, pole winner). They really have their act together when it comes to qualifying.”
DO YOU LOOK AT THE PENSKE CARS AND WONDER WHAT THEY ARE DOING?
“If they were beating us in the race every weekend, then I’d be concerned. But if you just look at practice, they have something that has that front-end speed. Even in race runs in practice; maybe they’ve got the balance figured out, something mechanically, or with air pressure that they’re doing. They get faster every run. Now of course, we did too, today. But I mean they take it to another level in the third session. So, at this point, we’ve kind of gotten used to it and accustomed to it and we’re going to always work hard to try to beat it and figure out what they’re doing. But they are really doing an amazing job with their cars for qualifying. But we seem to have something for them when they drop the green flag in the race. So whatever it is doesn’t seem to correlate to race runs as much.”
THERE WAS A TIME IN YOUR CAREER WHEN THAT’S EXACTLY WHERE YOU WERE. EVERYBODY LOOKED AT YOU DURING QUALIFYING AND WONDERED IF THEY COULD KEEP UP WITH YOU. DO YOU REMEMBER THOSE TIMES? IS THAT WHERE WE ARE NOW?
“I know what you’re saying and I’ve always been proud of being a good qualifier throughout my career, but I’ve always felt like when we qualified well, we backed it up in the race. Those guys are just so spectacular in qualifying. They’ve won races; don’t get me wrong. But they’ve typically won races when it’s a real short run and they kind of get it done in a short run. So, I would like to think that the times when I was sitting on the pole, all those weeks, and everybody was like what do they have? We had a fast race car and a great team that we were getting it done in qualifying as well as in the race.”
Sign up for the Jeff Gordon newsletter to get info delivered straight to your inbox.