OUTSIDE FRONT ROW PRETTY CLOSE TO WHERE YOU WANT TO BE FOR SUNDAY:
“It was three incredible laps and a great effort by our Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet team today. All day long we have had a fast race car. It’s awesome to be able to back that up in qualifying. It’s so tricky at a track like this where the tires fall off a little bit and this is an abrasive track, but super-fast. Great conditions and you are just trying to keep up with the adjustments each time you go out. I thought the team did a great job. We were fourth, third and second, so we kept getting better each round and Matt (Kenseth) put up a great lap and I just was off by the tiniest bit. I could go back over that lap now a hundred times and do it over again to try to find that one thousandth or two thousandths of a second.”
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 2ND
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S RED VEST CHEVROLET SS – QUALIFIED 3RD
POST-QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT:
HOW WAS YOUR QUALIFYING SESSION?
GORDON: “It was a really great effort by our team. We were in the top 4 in each session and kept creeping up on it. I was a little bit concerned about that last session. There isn’t a lot of time in between and I kept feeling my car get a little bit tighter in the corner. So you’re just trying to judge how much to adjust, as well as do you crack on the throttle a little bit more or how to approach it. So, I was a little bit conservative. The car was handling fantastic. But I just wanted to make sure that front end cut for me and I eased on the gas probably a little bit more than I should have getting into (Turn) 1. It got through there pretty good and I knew it was a decent lap. But it was obviously not quite enough to get a pole, but it was very solid day all the way around. My car feels really good. It’s great to be starting on the front row.”
WERE THE SPEEDS TOO HIGH HERE?
GORDON: “If you hit something, yeah. (laughter)”
JOHNSON: “It depends on what you’re after. The faster we go, the narrower the track is and the less side-by-side racing you’ll have. One thing that we do have working for us is that this is an abrasive race track. You can move around. But if this was a repave at this speed, you wouldn’t be able to go to a second lane and you’d be pretty much single file. Oddly enough, you know you’re going fast but somehow the team and the feel you look for, they get the car pretty stuck to go that fast. You’re laughing and are pretty surprised that the car is sticking. Qualifying probably 25th was worse than qualifying on the pole. The guy at that speed was probably sliding around a lot more than the pole position was.”
ENTERING TURN 1 OR ENTERING TURN 3, WHICH WAS THE MOST DEMANDING CORNER?
GORDON: “I would say (Turn) 1 is a little bit trickier. The transition from the straightaway into the corner; the car really loads up there. Like Jimmie was saying, the cars are stuck pretty good. It gives you confidence to drive in there deep that it’s going to stick. I actually in practice, made my first qualifying run and it didn’t stick in that area and it got my attention. So, I’m glad we fixed it (laughs). And some of it was just me rolling out of the throttle too much. After I didn’t back out as much, it was a little bit better. But Turn 3 is just a lot more forgiving corner; a big sweeping corner. You can see the whole thing. I don’t know. There is something about the way you see and approach that corner in the transition. It’s a much more forgiving corner. You’re more worried about whether it’s going to cut when it lands or in the middle where, in (Turn) 1, you’re just hoping it sticks when you turn off into that banking.”
JOHNSON: “The only thing I would add is that when you come out of the pits, at least you get a chance to go through (Turns) 3 and 4 and feel it out a little bit so you come back there with a decent understanding of what you’re going to have. Turn 1 is kind of a guessing game on how hard you can run there.”