NASCAR Nextel Cup Series: Lenox Industrial Tools 300
Topics: Lenox Industrial Tools 300
Martin Truex, Jr.
July 1, 2007
LOUDON, NEW HAMPSHIRE
THE MODERATOR: Jeff, tell us about your run.
JEFF GORDON: Great run. We were obviously a lot better at the beginning of the race and we went up there and took the lead as the track laid some rubber down our car started getting a little bit too tight right in the middle and we had to make some adjustments. Right there at the end I thought Jeff made some great calls and great adjustments and got the car a little bit better. Of course, you know, Denny took, I don't know, two tires, no tires, whatever, you know -- we're giving them a heck of a run. Had a lot of fun today.
I'm just so proud of this team to come in here with that kind of pressure without Steve and a lot of attention and they stepped up. Man, it feels good. Martin and I had a great battle there at the end, and I think that definitely used up our stuff a little bit. So you know, when I got into second, it just took me a little while to get the rhythm and to cool things down before I could start getting after Denny. Then, you know, we had a great side-by-side finish.
Q. Can you talk about when you came around that fourth turn, last lap, and he got loose, did it look like there was a window of opportunity there?
JEFF GORDON: Yeah, you know, you can always look back, and probably I'll be watching the video and say, oh, I wish I would have done this or that.
He started watching his mirror there a little bit with about one or two to go, and when he did that, he started running the inside lane, just protecting the inside lane. And it allowed me to get right up on him. And so when he ran that inside lane, it really took away his exit. And had I ran my normal line, I think that I might have actually had a run at him and maybe, you know, had a better shot at getting him.
But as we came off there, he got loose, I got loose, too, trying to turn underneath him and just made my best effort. I think he kind of knew that even if he got loose off there, it was going to be hard for me to get by him at the start finish line, maybe at turn one, but not the start finish line.
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by third place finisher, driver of the No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Impala, Martin Truex, Jr. Tell us about your run.
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: It was a good run for us. Another almost could have been day, but good run. Third place is, you know, six months ago, I'd have been begging for a third paragraph par it was a gate guy.
Real proud of my Chevrolet team. We were off pretty good at the start of the race and we did a pretty good job adjusting on us. They have been able to do that for me pretty much all year long and it's a good feeling when you can tell them what you need and they can give it to you like that. Sure proud of them. They did an awesome job for me and had a great day.
Q. Jeff, your crew chief, Jeff, said that he didn't have communications with Steve today; that that was a decision they made, just let him kind of make the calls and with the help of people there. Did you have any input in that decision? Did you want Steve to be texting or calling this morning or trying to call people to say, hey, do this or do that?
JEFF GORDON: You can only do so much away from the racetrack. You know, sometimes that can get confusing. You know, you've got to have confidence in the person that you put up there on that box, and we have confidence in Jeff.
Obviously you know, Steve and him have been in quite a bit of communication throughout the week talking about strategy, talking about setups, and everything leading into this weekend.
So I feel like he was well prepped, Jeff was. And I think that we had enough guys up there helping him between Ken Hallis (ph) and our engineer, Cain (ph), and all an additional person on the phone or texting would do is complicate things a bit more.
Q. Denny only took two tires on the last stop, for him to be able to win this, how surprising is that or can you put that in perspective?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Seemed like track position was pretty huge all day. Earlier in the race some guys got up there with two tires and didn't seem to slow them down all that much.
I was a little surprised. I thought I would be able to get by him, but my car just wouldn't go like it had for some reason. I don't know if the last set of tires didn't agree with it, just wasn't turning anymore. Surprised me a little bit. But two tires seemed to work good here a lot.
JEFF GORDON: You know, I mean, I think that track position was extremely important.
You know, obviously you could tell he was fading there towards the end, but if it had not been a 30-lap run or however many lap it is was, it might not have worked out for him. But that was a good call, and obviously a great call, because it worked for him.
Q. In laps 291 through 294, it seemed like it was sort of the same pattern, you would get underneath Martin, and almost clear him, but not be able to hold down the back straight. Had you been able to get by him a little bit easier -- obviously we'll never know, but do you think you'd be in victory lane now if it had not taken four laps?
JEFF GORDON: I don't know. Obviously I would liked to have had another lap. But Martin raced me exactly how he should have, and I raced him as hard as I could. We raced one another clean. It was a great battle. I had a lot of fun racing Martin, and, you know, he's really been strong this year. I think he's one of the guys to beat, you know, when this Chase comes around. They have been strong on the COTs. I think he knew that he had a car that could win the race today.
You know, at the end of the race, man, you don't let anybody go. So woulda, coulda, shoulda, yeah, I have liked to have had another lap or two, but that's the way it worked out.
Q. Can you talk a little about just the challenges that this team faced coming into this week, given the penalties you faced, and did you have like it was personally, that you had to take some leadership in terms of maybe giving Jeff a pep talk this morning, and did you do that when you got out there?
JEFF GORDON: You know, I mean, he's been part of this team for a long time. Actions speak louder than words. And going out there and getting in the heat of the battle, that's what it's all about. That's, you know, when you have got a race team like ours and race cars that we bring to the track; I had confidence in him. I think he was nervous. I didn't need to tell him anything else and make him any more nervous.
I think all of us; I did feel everybody took on a little more responsibility and stepped up just a bit and I think that's very normal when you lose your crew chief or the leader of your team. Then everybody has to dig a little deeper and pay attention a little bit in more detail, and I would say that, you know, I did do my part. I didn't do anything more or anything less.
Q. The Car of Tomorrow was supposed to remove the aero punish and make the cars less aero dependent, and it looked to us like whoever was out in front in clean air could not be touched; is that accurate? Do you think the clean air makes as much or more difference than it did with a spoiler car?
JEFF GORDON: I'd like to know who said this car would take away the aero push, because I could it told you the first time I drove this car, it's going to make it worse.
All it's done is throw the cars down through the corner and that might make the race seem good at some tracks and not so good at other tracks. This is New Hampshire; since they changed the banking, it's made a wider groove and more side-by-side racing. But this is one of the toughest places that there is to pass, even with the old car.
But I have not found that this car makes aero push better. If anything, it might be a little worse.
Martin's going to leave that one in my hands.
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Thank you. (Laughter).
Q. If I'm not mistaken, this is your fourth top three's in the last four oval races, or fourth top five's in the last five races overall; how much more confidence do you guys have now heading out?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Well, obviously we feel good about our program and our race cars. I feel great about the job that the guys are doing for me and the cars they are bringing to the racetrack, and that's all you can really ask for. They are doing a great job and I'm real proud of them.
We've got, you know, a lot of confidence, but we still need to work hard and try to find areas where we can get better and just keep digging and try to be the best we can be when that last ten comes around.
Q. How disappointed were you to see that caution come out when you were running so well?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: I was pretty disappointed. I mean, I had like a three-second lead or something; they took it away. I wasn't happy. But that's the way it goes. We needed to -- I'm not sure what we could have done different to have a shot at winning but you know we put that set of ties on --
JEFF GORDON: Take two tires.
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Yeah, maybe we should have taken two tires. But whatever, it was a good day for us. (Laughter).
Q. It seems like Hendrick teams hardly ever skip a beat when a key player is out or replaced or whatever. Is this organization that deep, or are there that many good people at your shop that we have never heard of but you have confidence in?
JEFF GORDON: Well, you know, I don't want to take anything away from any individual, but I'll throw myself in this mix, as well. You can take me out of the driver's seat and that car is still going to be competitive out there. I mean, our teams and our organization are just that good.
Yes, we've got a lot of depth and we've got a lot of good people, but I think we've just spent so many years building up the race teams and the organization, that they never revolve around one person. And it's not me, it's not the crew chief, it's not a guy hanging bodies at the shop or building the engines; it's everybody's group effort that makes it happen.
And I think it would be shame on us if we lose a person for six weeks and we fall to pieces. That means that we didn't have a strong enough team to begin with, and I think even Steve Letarte would admit that.
And I think it's a tribute to his preparation, too. He's built a great team for us and been able to contribute to it, and I think his preparation for those guys coming in allowed them to step in and do their job.
Q. Did Hamlin slip off turn four on that last lap?
JEFF GORDON: Yeah, Ham and me both. Him more than me, so that's why I got a fender inside of him.
What he did, he ran the bottom groove the last lap just, you know, basically trying to make me -- force me to the outside, and so when he came off of turn four on the lower side of the track, he just ran out of room as he got off the exit and the car jumped sideways. Had I, you know, like I said going back looking, redoing it over again, if I had that option, which I don't, I probably would have arcked the car in there a little bit different trying to get more of a drive off the corner. But how do you know the guy is going to get that sideways that way off the corner; I was just trying to get underneath him and get a drag race off there and get some momentum, but wasn't able to happen. And when he jumped loose, I kind of got loose a little bit, too.
Q. There's still a lot of time to collect bonus points before the Chase, but how significant can the first bit of momentum or break in that be for him, and how much of a worry is that for you?
JEFF GORDON: I don't want so see anybody get bonus points, you know, not Martin, not Denny, Jimmie, nobody. Those things are important, real important. Yeah, I'm just glad they don't have bonus points in the Chase because, you know, then make it even more challenging to have to get those wins.
But you know, right now we've got four wins and that's his first, and we've got more racing to do. I mean, we've been talking about how strong those guys are. I think the DEI cars have really come on strong and maybe surprised a few people, but now they are solid so we know that they are a factor. And the Gibbs cars have been strong, the strongest cars I think, especially in the COT races, but they just haven't gotten the wins. You know, that could be the first of many for them. You know, it's our job to keep all of those guys from getting those bonus points.
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