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October 26, 2014
KERRY THARP:¬† Let's roll right into our post race for today's race at Martinsville Speedway.¬† Finishing third in the first race of the Eliminator Round, having a heck of a race out there today, was the No.31 car of Ryan Newman.
Ryan, congratulations.¬† Very, very strong start to the Eliminator Round.¬† Your thoughts about how the race played out for you today.
RYAN NEWMAN:¬† We struggled a little bit with the balance all day long, being really, really tight, like really, really tight.¬† The guys did a good job of adjusting it.¬† Kept getting it better and better.¬† Still never really got it right.
But the strategy of two tires there at the end worked out good for us.¬† Right number of laps with the guys that stayed out, kept the guys behind us that had four tires.
Great team effort.¬† I put our team in a hole when I sped on pit lane, which doesn't happen very often.¬† It did today.¬† It cost us a lot of track position.¬† Same time that the 24 did.¬† We come back to finish second and third together 300 laps later.
Just a great team effort for the Quicken Loans Chevrolet, everybody at RCR.¬† It was fun to have at least our highest running position be the last lap of the race.
KERRY THARP:¬† We'll take questions now for Ryan Newman.
Q.¬† Ryan, going into Texas, how do you view it now that you finished third?
RYAN NEWMAN:¬† To me it's just another race.¬† We came here to do what we needed to do.¬† We're going to go to Texas to do what we need to do.¬† That's a lot easier said than done.
To me, it's just another race.¬† It's an entirely different race than what we had today at Martinsville.¬† Phoenix will be the same.
But you have to approach it for what it is.¬† If the outfield wall is a hundred foot closer, you don't have to hit the ball as far.¬† If you have a really good car at Texas, it makes it that much easier.
Q.¬† Ryan, just describe a little bit those last few laps after you went green.¬† Looked a little crazy.
RYAN NEWMAN:¬† I'm really surprised that we made it to the end without another caution.¬† The guys that were out front there with no tires, it was really just a replay.¬† At least had the anticipation of it to be a replay of the race I won when I took tires a few years ago.
We were fortunate to make it up from eighth to third there.¬† Had a pretty good restart.¬† Got down to the bottom when I needed to.¬† Those guys were kind of all jumbled up.¬† I got into the back of Clint a little bit there.¬† I apologize to him.¬† But I had the 22 pushing me all the way through the corner.¬† I don't know there was a whole lot I could have done any different.
In the end it was a crazy restart at Martinsville, which we all expected.¬† You have three tire strategies.¬† You know, Junior won.
Q.¬† With Dale winning, that means at least two spots at Homestead will be based on points.¬† You with a strong finish, is the end of this Chase playing to the strength of your team right now?
RYAN NEWMAN:¬† I mean, it's played to our advantage the entire time as far as not having a win, not having bonus points.¬† Even if you're 8 of 12 or 16, you're still getting caught up, making free points that they're giving you to be tied to the next bracket.
It's been to our advantage the whole entire time.¬† But that doesn't mean it's going to be from the drop of the green in Texas or from the drop of the green in Homestead.
It has played to our advantage mathematically, no doubt.¬† We were the 16th seed coming in without a win.¬† We've not won yet.¬† We were tied for the lead in the points with four races to go.¬† So mathematically it has played to my advantage, as others, but probably mine mostly.
Q.¬† Obviously Dale is very popular.¬† Do you think having a non‑Chase driver win takes anything away from the Chase at this point?
RYAN NEWMAN:¬† Without a doubt, no.¬† Everybody has an opportunity to win.¬† If David Ragan would have had a great restart and won the race, it would have been no different in my mind, being a less popular non‑Chase driver.
Anything could have happened there at the end.¬† That's short‑track racing.¬† That's racing, but that's short‑track racing, as well.
KERRY THARP:¬† Ryan, great start to the Eliminator Round.¬† We'll see you at Texas.
RYAN NEWMAN:¬† Thank you, guys.
KERRY THARP:¬† Our race runner‑up is Jeff Gordon, driver of the No.24 car for Hendrick Motorsports.
Jeff, congratulations.¬† I know you wanted that win, but certainly you positioned yourself well heading to Texas.¬† Talk about this race today.¬† You certainly had a very, very strong racecar, working back and forth to get up there, battling Junior at the end.
JEFF GORDON:¬† Yeah, unfortunately I lost this race today because of my mistake on pit road.¬† That was on me.¬† We played catch‑up for the rest of the day.¬† Put ourselves in contention at the end.
I don't know.¬† I feel like had we been in control of the race more like we had been earlier, I think we would have been in a much better position to win the race.
Still overall a great battle.¬† It wasn't easy to come back up through there.¬† We avoided a lot of things and got pretty fortunate.
Yeah, good points today.¬† Certainly a great day for Hendrick Motorsports.¬† We know how much Martinsville means to us.¬† Paying tribute to those folks we lost here 10 years ago by doing a 1‑2 finish is really something.
I know how many fans were really excited to see Dale Jr. win, and himself, too.¬† They did a great job.¬† So did our team.¬† It's a great way to come out of here.
This place, as we saw today, can really shake things up.¬† So we feel really good.¬† We knew this was a good track for us.¬† Wish it could have been a win.¬† Wish I hadn't made that mistake.¬† But still second's pretty good.
KERRY THARP:¬† Questions for Jeff Gordon.
Q.¬† Given what was at stake, what a win would have meant, what were you prepared to do?¬† You tried to get to Dale Jr.¬† What were you prepared to do if you had gotten there?
JEFF GORDON:¬† I would have moved him for sure.¬† There's no doubt in my mind.¬† Everybody who is out there racing has to weigh risk versus reward. ¬†For me, to win this race, it's worth taking a lot of risk, even if you upset your teammate.
I think everybody out there that's not in the Chase understands that if that guy can win that race and put himself in Homestead for the championship, you can pretty much guarantee that you're going to get the bumper or get slammed or something.
I mean, Dale drove a nice, clean race.¬† I never had an opportunity.¬† Even prior to that, I didn't really have the car to run him down.¬† We just lost the drive off there on that run.¬† We were still a little bit better than him, but not enough to really go up there and run him down.
We had our opportunities, no doubt about that.¬† But, yeah, it wouldn't matter who it was.¬† Anybody I would have taken big chances and big risks.¬† You can do that here at Martinsville.¬† It's a short track.¬† You can get to people's bumpers.¬† You can out‑brake them, slide up into them.¬† There's a lot of tactics you can use to be aggressive here that can win you the race.¬† You can't do that everywhere, but you can do that here.
Q.¬† Jeff, knowing there will be at least two spots on points now heading for Homestead, do you think that changes the way people race at all?
JEFF GORDON:¬† Well, I've never felt like you couldn't think about being consistent in this format.¬† You still have to be consistent.¬† Points can still get you through.¬† Your goal is to either win the race or be the highest in points.¬† I think that gets you through no matter what.
I will say that it makes me feel a little bit better about finishing second today, that it was second to somebody that's not in the Chase.¬† Had that been somebody in the Chase, it would have been hard to swallow.
Q.¬† Why were you speeding?
JEFF GORDON:¬† I'm embarrassed to say this.¬† Completely my fault.¬† I said that on the radio.¬† But I didn't want to go into details.
We do two settings, one in first gear, one in second gear.¬† A late sequence for each one.¬† I ran second gear under my light sequence for first gear.¬† Plain and simple.
I looked up and Jamie was way behind me.¬† I was like, Uh‑oh.¬† I knew right then I was speeding.¬† Surprised I didn't hear anything in the box.¬† I thought for sure they were going to say something.¬† They didn't say anything till I left pit road.¬† But I knew it right away.
You have a sequence of lights on your tach.¬† The way that they're set, you can set them for just different rpm ranges.¬† It's not about a first gear, second gear, it's more about the range they're in in that rpm.
I was supposed to run one green light in second gear and one red light in first gear.¬† I ran one red light in second gear.¬† That's way too fast (smiling).
Q.¬† Despite the fact that Junior won and you finished second, are you in some ways grateful that Hendrick Motorsports really doesn't go by team orders from a philosophical standpoint?
JEFF GORDON:¬† Yes and no.¬† I would have liked to have had that win, but you don't want to do that because somebody moves over for you.
I think that I said before, the only way I felt like you can work together as a team is cut somebody some slack a little bit.¬† If you're in the outside lane trying to get to the inside lane, you know, just give‑and‑take a little bit I think is the smart thing to do.¬† Not be too aggressive where you take a teammate out that's running for the championship, but at no point did I think it was about not racing hard for wins.
Dale Jr. saw an opportunity to win, and you can't blame him for giving it everything he had to go get that win.¬† That's awesome for him.
Our job is to make sure that we secure that win by having the fastest car and the best pit stops, me making good decisions on the racetrack.
Q.¬† On the restart, next to the last one, you restarted on the outside next to Clint.¬† Junior was third.¬† Did you either hope or expect he would cut you a little bit more slack there on that one and let you in?
JEFF GORDON:¬† I was hoping.¬† I mean, he let me in on one other one.¬† I think the next time I was third, and he never even tried to move down.¬† So I filled the gap.
It's something we're going to talk about a little bit because I have a feeling that what happened was when I didn't let him in, he felt like, I'm not going to let him in again.
I don't really know.¬† But I'm not upset about it.¬† You don't expect anybody to do anything.¬† You hope, yeah, sure.¬† You hope.¬† I mean, I hoped Tony Stewart was going to let me in, too, one time.¬† We about crashed going down turn three.¬† That's racing.¬† That's just part of it.
Q.¬† Jeff, obviously you saw what happened with Kyle Busch when he finished third at Kansas.¬† Do you take that into consideration into how you approach these next two races?
JEFF GORDON:¬† Run that by me again.¬† Kyle Busch finishing third at Kansas?
Q.¬† He secured a spot in the next round.
JEFF GORDON:¬† No, anything can happen.¬† That's why you want that win so badly.¬† I like our chances at the next two tracks.¬† They're good tracks for us.¬† Thank God none of them are Talladega.
We got to go race.¬† We got to race hard.¬† We got to be smart and we got to go for it hard.¬† That's the toughest thing about this thing, you got to go for it.¬† You got to put everything out on the edge.¬† If you go too far over the edge, you might be out.¬† There's a very fine line there.
We go to Texas.¬† I mean, I feel like it's the way we race as a team anyway.¬† We race smart.¬† We work on the details, on the setups of the car, to try to make a fast racecar, go race to get the best finish we have, hope we get ourselves in the best position to win.
Q.¬† You talked about it earlier, but why do you think Rick Hendrick comes to this track still?¬† Does it surprise you at all that he comes here?
JEFF GORDON:¬† I mean, under normal circumstances I would have said that I would be surprised.¬† But he's not normal.¬† I mean, this is an extraordinary man that when all that went down, two days later he was at Hendrick Motorsports speaking to all the employees.¬† I mean, I was shocked then.¬† I'm not shocked that he comes here now.
It's just the kind of person that he is.¬† I know it's not easy on him.¬† I really do.¬† I know that it puts extra pressure on us at Hendrick Motorsports when he's here to get that win because it's a way to really pay tribute.¬† It's the ultimate way you can do it.
We've been able to do it several times, which is very, very cool.
KERRY THARP:¬† Jeff, congratulations on a strong start.¬† We'll see you at Texas.
JEFF GORDON:¬† Yes, sir.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports