JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET, involved in a multi-car accident on lap 74 of the Budweiser Shootout:
WHAT HAPPENED OUT THERE? “It was a wild night. Our Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet was really strong and we kept working our way up to the front so I was really happy about that. We had ourselves in a good position with Jimmie (Johnson) behind us. And then the No. 18 (Kyle Busch) got a run and got in front of us and I was on his bumper. Every time I got to him and was pushing him he started getting out of control and we got into (Turn) 3 and he started to lose it. I went to go around him and two guys were on the outside of me and I collected them and turned me into the wall and then I was just along for the ride.”
WHAT WAS THE RIDE LIKE GOING UPSIDE DOWN AND ROLLING AND FINISHING ON YOUR ROOFTOP? “Yeah, this was not how I wanted to start the 2012 season; I’ve never been upside down in one of these cars. The hit to the wall was much harder than the rest of it. The roll was pretty soft and pretty easy. The protection we have inside of these cars is amazing because I didn’t even hardly feel any of it. The toughest part is when you’re laying upside down and you can’t get out of the car. The roof was caved-in a little bit and that was no fun.”
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE MIXTURE OF THE TANDEM RACING AND PACK RACING OUT THERE TONIGHT? “It’s pretty wild and crazy but I mean I like this better than what we had last year, definitely. We all knew that we were going to be hooking-up and doing the tandem drafting toward the end of the race and there’s no real stopping that. It’s now just about not overheating. At the beginning of the race, I was really concerned because we were over-heating and I wasn’t even pushing anybody. So as we got a little bit closer to the front and started being a little smarter with it, it was working out fine. I was having a great time. My car was awesome. We were where we needed to be to win this race. So, this was unfortunate what happened.”
CAN YOU BELIEVE KYLE BUSCH AND THE DRIVING HE WAS DOING? DID YOU SEE THOSE TWO SLIDE-JOBS HE HAD? “I was joking with somebody. I said he was the one wrecking and I was trying to avoid and I was the one who ended-up wrecking and he wins the race (laughs).”
THE CAR ROLLED THREE TIMES. ARE YOU OKAY? WHAT HAPPENED? “I am fine. The safety of these cars is unbelievable. That is the first time I have been upside down in 19 or 20 years. I am glad it ended the way that it did with a nice soft rollover. It was great racing out there tonight. A wild finish and we were in a position to have a shot at winning this thing. That is what I feel bad about. Our Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet was really strong. I had Jimmie Johnson pushing me; we were looking good then those guys came up there and Kyle (Busch) got in front of me. I was staying with him, but he was wagging all over the place. I thought he was going to wreck so I went wide and collected a couple of guys on the outside of me. I’m sorry to those guys and it turned me into the wall, then Kyle (Busch) ends up winning the race. It was a pretty exciting way to start off 2012, but not the way we wanted to start it off.”
TELL US AGAIN WHAT HAPPENED “We were just getting down to the end of the race and it was time to go. Me and Jimmie (Johnson) were looking good there. We knew those guys were coming and once Kyle (Busch) got in front of me, I was just trying to keep Jimmie on me and try to stay with Kyle. Every time I got to Kyle’s bumper, he just started getting so sideways like he was a lot tonight. I thought he was going to wreck. I saw him start to spin, so I went to go wide, not knowing that somebody had gotten to my outside. That turned me into those guys and into the wall. And along for a ride, we went. And then Kyle ends up winning the race. So it was a pretty wild and crazy way to get it all started. It was certainly an exciting finish to the race and so I’m excited about that. But it was not the way our Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet wants to get the 2012 season started.”
THERE WERE SO MANY CRASHES TONIGHT; EVEN MORE THAN WOULD BE EXPECTED FOR THE BUDWEISER SHOOTOUT. WHAT IS GOING ON? “Well, the difference now is that we’re still bump-drafting. We just can’t do it for long periods of time. So now we’re doing it in packs. And so you get on the straightaway. You push a little bit. And once the tires get a little bit of heat in them and we have less downforce, so the cars are moving around a lot. So you’ve got to be real careful with how you push and when you push and it’s definitely going to take some patience. But I was having a blast out there. Our car was awesome. We had a car that could win this race and so that’s got me excited about tomorrow for next week.”
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