Indianapolis: Race Preview & Qualifying Notes
“The Brickyard 400 sticks out so much to me because I am from California via Indiana, and the first big race I remember watching on TV was the Indianapolis 500. For me to be able to compete at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was something I dreamed of. And the inaugural Brickyard 400 may have been more meaningful because we went there with a chance to win – not just to compete. To win that race and go on to win four more is just incredible to me. To me, personally, Indianapolis Motor Speedway is just the ultimate track that I get to compete on.”
At Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Jeff Gordon has 5 wins, 3 poles, 12 top fives, 17 top tens, has an average starting position of 11.8, an average finishing position of 8.4 and has led 528 laps.
Jeff Gordon is scheduled to visit the Team Chevy stage at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday, July 25th at 11:30am.
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 3M CHEVROLET SS – Qualified 19th
“I really think our 3M Chevrolet is really good. It’s been good all weekend. I feel like I underestimated the grip. I had a little wiggle out of three coming to the green and that concerned me slightly. The grip was there in Turn 4, and I was aggressive into Turn 1, but not aggressive enough. That’s what is disappointing; it wasn’t a balance issue or a speed issue. I didn’t get enough speed through (Turn) 1. It adds up with this new package. Yeah, I’m pretty disappointed to start back there. We all know you can pass down the straightaways with this package, but at the same time you’re going to have your hands full in the corners, especially starting 19th. We have a lot of work to do, and to be patient and aggressive, and see how we make our way through traffic. It’s going to be a heck of a show. Keep your eyes on these restarts. You’ll see more three-wide racing than we’ve ever seen here, at least down the straightaways before you get into the corners.”
ON HIS QUALIFYING EFFORT
“I’m really disappointed. The car was good. The car was plenty good enough to get a top 12. It’s just on me. I didn’t get the lap. It’s really hard to gauge just how much more speed is in the track and in the cars right now, even with the sun out. I felt like the car did what I needed it to do. I just didn’t go fast enough.”
IS THE TRICKINESS STILL IN THE AERO PACKAGE AND TRYING TO FIGURE THAT OUT AS THE WEEKEND GOES ON?
“The trickiest part just began. You needed to qualify up front. So, starting there (19th) is not going to be fun.”
DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW THIS THING IS GOING TO BE IN TRAFFIC, OR IS THAT STILL A WILD CARD?
“Well, I’m extremely happy with NASCAR’s ability to make some changes and really experiment and try new things. But, it’s going to be really crazy out there. So, I don’t know for sure. For the little bit of time I spent behind other cars, it was a handful through the corners. So, restarts are going to be wild and crazy; so everybody needs to stay tuned-in.”
HOW MUCH DID THE SUN PLAY INTO THIS? IS DID IT COME OUT AGAIN WHEN YOU WERE ON THE TRACK?
“The car was fine. I just really underestimated the amount of grip that was there.”
WHAT DOES THIS CAR FEEL LIKE?
“By yourself it doesn’t feel that much different. It’s just when you’re around other cars, you lose a lot of grip behind them in the corners and you draft up quite a bit down the straightaways..”
ULTIMATELY, IS IT GOING TO MAKE FOR BETTER RACING?
“Well, only time will tell. I think we all have practiced and run around other cars, although we don’t really know until they drop the green flag. I definitely think when cars get side-by-side, it’s going to make for an opportunity for the car behind them to pass; I think the restarts are going to be pretty wild and crazy. But, the thing I’m so disappointed about right now is being that far back is going to be a real handful through the corners.”
IS IT GOING TO BE TOUGH TO MAKE YOUR LAST BRICKYARD 400 WHAT YOU WANT IT TO BE?
“This team is so good and our race car has proven to be good that just because we’re qualifying further back than we wanted doesn’t mean that we can’t get it done tomorrow.”
ON THE RADIO, DID YOU SAY YOU FELT LIKE IT FELT GOOD?
“Yeah. I thought the car felt good. I felt like I ran aggressive enough to make it in the top 12. So that one’s on me. It wasn’t the car. It wasn’t like the balance was off or anything. I just needed to be in the throttle harder.”
THIS CROWD LET OUT A GROAN BIGGER THAN YOU DID. DO YOU THINK EVERYBODY IS PULLING FOR YOU THIS WEEKEND?
“Yeah, and it’s amazing and I love that. When I’m out there in the car I’m just focused on doing my job, but when I’m out of the car it’s just amazing to have the support that I have here. It’s not just this weekend. It’s been over the years. It’s pretty well known this is going to be my final Brickyard 400, so it’s amazing to have that kind of support. And I feel too, that I’m not very happy with what just happened, but hopefully we can make up for that tomorrow.”
ON THE NEW PACKAGE, HOW WILL IT BE IN THE RACE TOMORROW?
“I think that if you try to get too aggressive, you’re going to wreck. You’re going to have to be aggressive on the restarts. You’re going to have to take advantage of those drafts when you get them. When you get in the corner behind those cars, you’re going to be walking on eggshells to try to not to end your race. So, it’s going to be a balancing act.”