Jeff GordonNOT THE WAY YOU WANTED TO START THE SEASON OR FINISH THE DAYTONA 500. WHAT HAPPENED?
"There has been so much reliability testing that if we had seen some high temps or some high water pressure, then I would have kind of expected some of this to happen. But, I was actually seeing some surprising low temps and low pressures. I don't know, maybe something was off there.
"Boy, it is a shame. Our Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet was really strong. We were just biding our time and being patient and working with guys. Every once in a while we could get up there to the front. But, we weren't even really trying at that time.
"You're racing out there, but in order to actually make a big move to get to the lead, you have to push. Then you do take a risk of getting the temps up. It just wasn't time to do that. But, we were in a great position. Great pit stop there.
"I just have to thank Drive To End Hunger for everything they do for all the older Americans dealing with hunger issues. Thank DuPont. Thank Pepsi Max and Chevrolet; all of our sponsors. This is not the way we wanted to start the season or the Daytona 500. So we'll go on to Phoenix."
WHAT HAPPENED? DID YOU HAVE ANY WARNING?
"My temps were looking good. Temps are such an issue here right now at Daytona. But all the temps looked good. All the gauges looked good. Just kind of came out of nowhere. First it popped and then it went up in a big ball of flames. So, you know that is down in the bottom end, and that is never good. So, I knew our night was done for the Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet. I can't thank them enough for all they do for the older Americans dealing with hunger issues; DuPont and Pepsi Max, Quaker State, Chevrolet; all of our sponsors.
"Gosh, I am just so disappointed. It's not the way we wanted to start this season or the Daytona 500, and it is a shame to be out like this."
HOW IS THE RACING OUT THERE? IS IT WHAT YOU EXPECTED?
"Well, lap one got everybody's attention. I don't know what happened. Who got in the back of Jimmie (Johnson). I just saw him get turned sideways. After that everybody was using their heads. You have got guys that are racing the bottom line and trying to manage their temperatures. Then, you have got guys on the outside that are able to manage their temps a little bit better, which is where I was. But, it takes a little bit more of kind of a team effort to get that lane up to the front. Most everybody that I was around looked like they were just doing what they needed to do to get to the end of this race. I can promise you, the end of this race is going to be intense. I was really looking forward to being a part of that battle."
DID YOU FEEL ANYTHING DIFFERENT? EVERYBODY WILL TALK ABOUT EFI (ELECTRONIC FUEL INJECTION) BUT WE DON’T KNOW. THEY CAN REALLY TAKE A LOOK AT IT A LOT EASIER AND FIND OUT WHAT IT IS QUICKER.
“The good thing is you can go back-up your temps and everything. My gauges all looked good. I was not having any temp issues at all and no water pressure issues. If anything, it was alarmingly low. We are going to diagnosis that and we can get a lot more information with the new EFI system. Anytime you have a failure like this you want to get as much information, valuable information; that you can to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
DID THE LONG WAIT HAVE ANY IMPACT ON THIS RACE AT ALL? WE SAW SOME CRAZINESS ON LAP TWO.
“Yeah, that was strange. I haven’t seen it. I just saw Jimmie (Johnson) get turned and it was really unfortunate for him. I know some other people got caught up in that. From that point on, everybody was really being calm and using their heads. The race was going along really smooth. The bottom line seemed to be able to maintain a little bit faster pace, but guys had to watch their temps a lot more. The outside lane had to work together as a team a little bit more to try to get up there, but you didn’t have to watch your temps as much. We were in the perfect position as far as I am concerned. It’s calm right now. It’s going to get insane. The only way you are going to be able to win this race is to really push hard. The cars, especially if the tires have some laps on them, they don’t drive very well when you start pushing.”