NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Coke Zero 400 powered by Coca-Cola
Topics: Coke Zero 400 powered by Coca-Cola
July 3, 2010
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA
THE MODERATOR: We're now joined in the infield media center by tonight's second place finisher, the driver of the No. 9 Budweiser Armed Forces Ford, Kasey Kahne. Tell us about your run.
KASEY KAHNE: We had a great run, had a fast Budweiser Ford throughout the whole race, a little bit too loose for a while, and we got it a little better, and then just we were right there. I felt like we ran the best cars the whole night. I hit oil or had to be something on the racetrack because the car just incidentally spun, and I hit the wall, and other cars were doing it, too. So I kind of missed the wreck because of that, because we were slowed up, as well, so it actually worked out for us or I would have actually been in that wreck with McMurray and Ragan and those guys.
After that it was just try to avoid. You know, I was happy to see every wreck in my mirror and just trying to avoid some of that stuff and stay out there. But we had a good car, it was just a matter of avoiding it, and we were able to.
THE MODERATOR: We're also joined here tonight by tonight's third place finisher, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, Jeff Gordon. Tell us about your run.
JEFF GORDON: Man, I'm just happy to survive one of these restrictor plate races. It's been a while since we've done that. We had a pretty good night, car drove good, especially on the long runs, and we avoided the big ones and got ourselves in a good position to win the race. Got out in front, and I felt like I had a pretty good handle -- I liked being up front while those two guys were lined up; we were good.
But once they split down, one and two, they kind of faded, and I didn't know -- I thought they were passing one another, and instead they lined back up and I was just a sitting duck. At that point it was just about the restart, and got a good restart, was pushing Clint, and I don't know what happened. It just seemed like he was riding the brakes, and we weren't going anywhere. So I went to pass him, and that kind of just messed up our momentum to really have a shot at winning, so we're pretty happy to finish third.
Q. Kasey, Kevin said that you were the one who kind of split off the 33, that they were going to try to work together. Did you think that giving him that push and splitting him off the 33 was the only order of business? And then Jeff, if you could describe your last two laps there, too.
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, I was just going as hard as I could there at the end, and you know, the 29 was -- I think the 33, we got in pretty quick, just down into three or something. I don't remember really how it went. But I was just pushing the 29. That was my only choice. I just did that, and I never had a chance to pass the 29, so I just kept pushing.
JEFF GORDON: I was pushing the 33. I mean, we got a great start, and I gave him a big shove, and I think maybe he was afraid that he got too big of a shove or something and it seemed like he let off the gas or got on the brakes. I hit him again, and you know, again, until I talk to Clint and try to find out what happened -- but these cars got a lot of drag in them with the spoilers, so maybe it was just the car was just dragging down that much when I was trying to push him.
But I felt like that last time I was coming up on him too fast and I needed to go. So I went to the outside of him. I think when I went to the outside of him, the 29 and the 9 pretty much cruised right on by, and then it was just trying to get the momentum back down the back straightaway.
The 31 pretty much got by me, but I was able to get to his quarterpanel and get right back by him and finish third.
Q. For each of you, with all the crazy stuff that happened the last 20 laps, how relieved do you guys feel to get out of here with top threes?
KASEY KAHNE: I feel really good. There was a lot of stuff going on. Like I said, I hit the wall once when I hit oil and spun just about all the way around and hit the wall, and then they wrecked all in front of me so I definitely would have been in that wreck so I avoided that by running into the wall myself and then the others were in my mirror. I'm definitely happy to run second. I was just relieved to get out of here with a good finish.
JEFF GORDON: Definitely. We've been in so many of those wrecks here recently on restrictor plates that our good stats that we've always had on the restrictor plates have been going down fast. So this was a nice way to rebound.
Yeah, you know, the 18 and 42 got together right in front of me. I just avoided that one. The other one, I don't even know how I avoided it, the one where Burton was a pinball and they were all wrecking. I just dove to the apron and just did a big slide. I don't know how we didn't have more damage. But we were one of the few cars that made it through there. And then the rest of them were in my mirror, like Kasey was saying.
Q. Were you in that big one?
KASEY KAHNE: No, I was on the outside of it.
Q. For Jeff, you move into second place. What does this do with the time, the races ticking down right before the Chase?
JEFF GORDON: I'm second? Really? I don't believe it.
Q. That's what they said up here. We don't have the points or anything up here.
JEFF GORDON: Well, I mean, I'm excited that we're second in points, but I'll be honest with you, all I look at is where we are with wins right now. When you're positioned well in the Chase, like we are currently, then it comes down to wins and being seeded for when that Chase comes around.
I think these top fives that we've had here recently build momentum to get us an opportunity to get us those wins. So that's really more what's on our mind right now. It's about what we've got to do to win a championship. I feel like we've got to get a few wins before that Chase starts.
But you know, it certainly helps when you're further up in the points because it gives you that opportunity to take more chances and try more things to make sure that you either get those bonus points or that you're the car to beat when the Chase comes around.
Q. Jeff, you've been a part of a lot of wild races, but where does this one rank in terms of restrictor plate craziness?
JEFF GORDON: I'll be honest with you, I'm starting to get used to the fact that every race we go to is basically bumper cars at 190 miles an hour. You know, my favorite part of the race to be honest was the first half when we were spread out, and while it might not be as exciting for the fans, it's awesome as a driver to be out there knowing you're making a difference in how you drive the car, the team is making a difference how they set up the car. The pit stops under green, to me that was just a blast out there racing in those long runs, managing tires, all that stuff. That's what I love about the older surface.
But, you know, when it comes down to the end, you pretty much know that it's not going to end like that, that you're going to have cautions and double-file restarts, and it's just hold on tight.
For me, honestly, tonight, other than after I made Clint Bowyer mad, which what's new, I'm making a lot of guys mad these days, but he ran into the back of me so hard down the back straightaway because I know he's mad at me, plus I know he's trying to get us going. Other than that it was a pretty uneventful green-white checkered compared to some others I've seen. I'm sure that's not quite the case for guys that were behind me.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you, and congratulations.
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