JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 2nd
ON SECOND ROUND QUALIFYING:
"These conditions are tough out there. It is hot, and it is slick out there. You are trying to adjust your car for a night race, and know that you are qualifying in the late afternoon, early evening here. So I am really proud of that. It is Hunger Action month. Love having this orange paint scheme on our Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet. The team did an awesome job; I just don't feel like I did the best job. I never made (turns) one and two the whole session. I nailed three and four. My car is awesome down there. I can overdrive it; I can do a lot of things down there. Maybe some of it is the shade, I'm not sure. I kept getting real loose into one. I'm happy we are on the front row, but at the same time I see how far behind that No. 2 car (Brad Keselowski) we are. I feel like we have a race car that can compete with those guys. We'll just go out there and try to make it happen tomorrow night."
WHAT’S YOUR OUTLOOK FOR TOMORROW NIGHT AS YOU’D LIKE TO SECURE A FOURTH WIN?
GORDON: “I’ll admit that today was tough. It was kind of a frustrating day because of the conditions. It’s a new tire based on what we had the last time we were here. So we were trying to learn that. And the hot conditions were making you slip and slide around. I’ll be honest. I’ve been confused most of the day. Even in qualifying, I was sliding up the race track and running a groove I really didn’t want to be running. Yet, we were fastest in the first round and second fastest in the second round and I’m sitting here baffled by it. That just tells me we’ve got a really good race car that’s got good speed in it. We’ve just got to get that balance right and keep working hard and we’ll be able to put in a good effort tomorrow night. I’m certainly proud to be on that front row. Brad (Keselowski) put a great lap up there. That was incredible what he did that second round.”
HOW MUCH OF THE CONFUSION TODAY WAS HEAT-RELATED AND/OR TIRE-RELATED
GORDON: “We’re not saying come in as early as they did today. We’re saying come in later and practice later. The only thing I’d add to that is this tire seems to be laying a lot of rubber down. And so it looked like during the day, especially in the heat, it was laying rubber in the groove kept getting wider and wider. You just don’t know if it’s going to do that at night.”
ON THE GROOVE GETTING WIDER, ISN’T THAT BETTER FOR THE SHOW?
GORDON: “Absolutely. If we were racing during the day I’d say we’d have a multi-groove lane all the way up to the wall. But we’re not racing during the day. We’re racing at night and those cooler temperatures typically don’t move the track up quite as much. So, it was fun in a lot of ways to run the way we were running today, but you feel like you’re out there really not learning anything for the race. You feel like you’re just making laps because the conditions will be so much different.”
COMING INTO THIS RACE, WHAT WOULD YOU CONSIDER TO BE AN ACCEPTABLE EXPECTATION FOR THIS RACE AT THIS STAGE OF YOUR CAREER AND ALSO OF THE SEASON?
GORDON: “He’s got more on the line this weekend than I do. We’re just trying to keep the momentum or regain it. The last couple of weeks haven’t gone as well as we’d like. This is a big race for us just trying to get another win and really carry that momentum to Chicago. This is not in the Chase and we’re already in it, so you’re not necessarily taking a whole lot from this race and applying it into the Chase, but you are going to take that team effort for sure.”
HOW INTENSE IS YOUR ROOKIE SEASON? JEFF DO YOU THINK HIS (KYLE LARSON) ROOKIE SEASON IS FAR MORE INTENSE THAN WHAT YOU WENT THROUGH?
GORDON: "I don't wish a rookie season on anybody. Mine wasn't great I can tell you that. I tore up a lot of equipment. He reminds me(Kyle Larson) so much of myself, but I always say with far more talent. I mean I love his background and what he has accomplished at such a young age. He has such a bright future so I think that you are going to see him do I think similar to what I did, which is next year - because you have to remember stock cars are pretty new to him. He hasn't been racing stock cars his whole life. He is on a steep learning curve and I think that as good as he has been this year I think next year he is going to go to a whole other level just from having that comfort level of what the cars are like, what the 500-mile races are like, what the track conditions are. My rookie year is still to this day the toughest year I had. It's not because I wrecked a lot it is because I just felt like everybody was judging me and watching me and critiquing me. Everything I did good or bad you just felt like you couldn't do anything right. Even when you did it right, then they expected more. If you did it wrong they were like 'oh well he doesn't have what it takes'. It's tough being a rookie, so good luck with that I hope you are having a great year (laughs).
WILL YOU WATCH THE NATIONWIDE RACE TONIGHT TO SEE WHAT THE TIRES DO?
GORDON: "I will be laying on my couch, actually I'm building a model right now I'm going to be building my model while I'm watching the race. My crew chief is going to be texting me the tire situation."