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Satisfying Night At Darlington


DARLINGTON, S.C.- - As the laps wound down in the Dodge 500 at Darlington Raceway, Jeff Gordon seemed destined to finish in third place. Both Ryan Newman and Greg Biffle were beyond his reach in the closing stages. However, Mark Martin's spin with 5 to go changed the complexion of the race. Newman and Ken Schrader were the only lead lap cars to stay on the track. Under a green/white/checkers finish, Gordon restarted in fifth position. As the cars stacked up on the restart, Gordon quickly moved around Schrader and tapped Carl Edwards on the backstretch to take third. He got around Newman at the start-finish line as the cars took the white flag. But he was unable to catch Biffle who sprinted out to his third victory of the season.


Jeff's post-race press conference

"I think the restart was probably the wildest part of the race. It looked like Ryan Newman started to go and I don't know if he spun the tires or if he just checked up, but it pretty much caused a wreck with of us behind there. It's amazing that we got into Turn 1. But it was wild and crazy out there. I hope these fans enjoyed that show because it can't get any better than under the lights here at Darlington and a green-white-checkered finish. Greg Biffle did a great job. I've gotta say one thing about Carl Edwards. I got him loose up off of Turn 2 and I don't know if he checked up or if I just got into him, but he saved it and it was one of the best saves I think I've ever seen in my life. And I'm sorry that I hit him, but it was a great run for this DuPont Chevrolet. I'm real proud of these guys here tonight. We didn't have a second place car, but we just kept working on it and working on it and there at the end we got it a lot better and got ourselves into position."

THIS WAS THE FIRST FULL RACE UNDER THE LIGHTS AT DARLINGTON. HOW MUCH DID THE TRACK CHANGE?
"It didn't change that much for us. We were loose right from the get-go and just stayed loose all night long. The track may have tightened up a little bit and come to us, but certainly not a whole lot."

YOU SAID YOU DIDN'T HAVE A SECOND PLACE CAR, SO HOW DID YOU END UP FINISHING THAT WELL?
"We never gave up on it, that's for sure. But it was a frustrating night because we were pretty far off. I don't really even know how we stayed on the lead lap at times. But you know, this is just one of those tracks where even when the car doesn't feel right or the grip isn't there, everybody else is fighting a lot of the same thing. We certainly weren't the best car. With some great work by the team and some good pit stops, we were a top five car there at the end. And then we were sitting there in third and it was going to be a green-white-checkered (finish), and we all came in. My tires were shot there at the end. I was getting ready to go backwards in a hurry. So the best thing that could have happened to us was that caution. We came in and got those fresh four tires and man, I wish we could have beat Biffle out because I think it would have been ours. The first guy on four tires was the guy to beat. And he got out there and we took off and got wild and crazy on the restart. Eventually we were able to get up to second and that was it."

WERE YOU SURPRISED THAT RYAN NEWMAN DIDN'T TAKE TIRES AT THE END?
"The lead in a situation like that is the toughest place to be. We were contemplating staying out ourselves and we were in third. We knew there were 18 or 20 cars or something like that on the lead lap. I'm sure he didn't think that many guys were going to come in and take tires. But I know what my tires felt like and I was really happy that Robbie Loomis wanted us to come in. Newman had some lapped cars in between him and Biffle, so it wasn't like he was able to make a last minute dash down there. We all kind of hung out there as long as we could, and when we went, I don't know if they said, 'Hey, we're just staying out here no matter what,' or what, but I know he couldn't have made it anyway. When that many cars come in, you're in trouble. But if he had come in, maybe some guys would have stayed out. So you never know."

HOW CRAZY WAS THAT LAST RESTART? WAS THAT AN ATTEMPT BY RYAN NEWMAN TO THROW EVERYONE OFF?
"I'm not sure what exactly happened. I noticed when we were coming off of Turn 4, he started to roll faster than we had been running to the restart. So I thought he's going to do an early start here. So a lot of us took off. And then I don't know if he spun the tires or stopped or what he did but it almost worked if that's what he was doing (laughs) because we almost had a huge wreck there. They only do one green-white-checkered so I don't know if that's what he was thinking. But that was pretty smart, actually. We were lucky to actually get into Turn 1 because I didn't think we were going to make it to the start/finish line."

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE BEGINNING OF THE RACE WITH KURT BUSCH?
"I never touched him. I was behind he and Rusty Wallace and he was racing pretty hard. He got real loose and slid up into Rusty. He was trying to stay off of Rusty and the car just went around. It looked like I was real close to him or maybe even touching him because I wasn't sure if he was going to come back up the track. So I actually gassed it and closed up on him and went around the corner of his bumper, but never touched him."

DID THE LIGHTS CHANGE THE RACING HERE AT DARLINGTON?
"The toughest conditions I've seen here at Darlington is a hot, cloudy day where the sun goes in and out add the temperatures up and down. I like consistency in the race track and I'd say we had that tonight. I can't really say the track really changed much. Maybe it tightened up a little bit. But I was so loose from the beginning to the end that there wasn't a single adjustment we could make on that car that would keep the rear tires on the car. I was like that for me all night."



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