After clinching victory in the Goody's 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the half-mile Martinsville Speedway on Sunday afternoon, four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon met with the press along with his crew chief Alan Gustafson.
Let's roll right into our post-race winning team, winning driver, crew chief, for the 65th annual Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 powered by Kroger here at Martinsville Speedway, and the race winner was Jeff Gordon. He drove the #24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports. He's joined by his crew chief Alan Gustafson. This is Jeff's 88th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win, his first win in 2013, his eighth win at Martinsville. That ties him with Jimmie Johnson for most wins among active drivers.
Jeff, you may or may not know this, but this also gets you in the 2014 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race because your provisional had expired.
Well, you know how bad we'd love to be in that All-Star Race, so that's cool. That's a lot of positives to come out of a win.
You know, you're third in points and made up some ground there, but anyhow, congratulations. Talk about what it meant to win here today.
Oh, my gosh. This meant so much. I feel like we've worked so hard, and many weekends we've left the racetrack looking at one another going, what do we have to do? We've had race cars, we've had pit stops, we've had strategy. I feel like I've had days where I've done my part but just couldn't get it all lined up. Today - I mean, we come into this race with a lot of confidence. This is a great track for us, the #24 team, for me personally, and these guys, Alan especially, they gave me a great race car all weekend long. I was a little disappointed in myself qualifying. I felt like we should have done a better job than that, but he made up for it getting that #2 pit stall. That was sort of a turnaround for our weekend in many ways, or just that kind of added bonus, and that paid off for us today, as well. And of course a great race car. I feel like we've been in position to win this race several times the last few years, and no different than like Jimmie Johnson today, you get stuck in that outside lane on the wrong restart, all of a sudden you're fighting to try to be in the top five or top ten, and we went through some of that today at times ourselves, but there at the end, great pit stop, tyres at the right time, good adjustments, and then we were in the inside lane the final two restarts, and to me that made all the difference.
Of course we had to really run in Matt's tracks. He was strong. I felt like they made some adjustments, made his car even better. That's probably the most patient I've had to be here, or in a race in a long time, just because I didn't see his car fading like I thought it would. It just took a little longer, and it finally did start to give up a little bit, and we took advantage of that.
Alan, talk about coming here this weekend and maybe a couple things that stick out in your mind that might have been the key to the win. Is there anything that sticks out in your mind?
Yeah, it was obviously a great day. Coming here we knew this was a race that we needed to try to capitalize on. We needed to get a lot of points out of here to keep ourselves in contention for this championship. As Jeff alluded to, I think we had a really good car all weekend. Qualifying we were a little disappointed. We focused solely on qualifying on Friday because we really wanted that #1 pit stall. We felt like a few of the last races we've lost races because we didn't have that #1 stall and our competitors did.
A little disappointed with ninth, but ended up being a blessing in disguise because I think we got a really good stall in #2 and we had a good car. Through the day we had track position, had a good car, had a decent short-run car, had a good long-run car, and we maintained track position fairly well, and I don't remember what lap, but that was just a rash of cautions that got - when we were leading that put us in kind of a compromising position. I had to make a tough decision there to either stay out on tyres or come get tyres. I decided to come get them, and ultimately I think hindsight 20/20 it probably wasn't the right decision. The caution came out 25 laps later and all the leaders were able to come in so we had to battle back from that, and I think the key to that was having a really good car. Jeff did a great job in traffic, and then we had two really clutch pit stops at the end I felt like that we needed - had a little bit of a rough start on pit road and the guys got two really good ones at the end, and when I knew we had gotten back to the front with new tyres and were in position, I felt like it was going to come down to those restarts, and personally was looking forward to a long run. I felt our car was really good on the long run, and Jeff is the best here at keeping the car straight, driving the car straight off the corner, being patient with the car, taking care of the car. I think his patience and his ability to be really precise with the car at the end of the race ultimately paid off, and he wore Matt down, and that's not easy to do. Of all the drivers in the series, Matt is much like Jeff. He's a guy that does not make many mistakes. I was really proud of Jeff to be able to do that and just wear him down and ultimately pass him and win the race.