Dover Domination

(June 5, 2001)- - Jeff Gordon dominated the MBNA Platinum 400 at Dover Downs International Speedway by leading 381 of the 400 laps en route to his second victory of the season and 54th of his career. It was Gordon's first victory at Dover since September 1996 and his fourth career win at the Delaware track. Following the race, Gordon and his crew chief Robbie Loomis discussed the victory.

Jeff Gordon: "We just had such a great car that wanted to be out front and stay out front. That's the best car I've ever had here because I could go out and I could lead even when the tires were down - when typically we'd be spinning out. The car just stayed with me over the long haul. The car was just so good out in front and that's what you look for here at Dover. These guys did an awesome job today. I couldn't be more proud of the way this DuPont Chevrolet and this whole team performed today. They just did a phenomenal job in the pits all day. Just all around it was a great effort. Hopefully this is a sign of some great things to come."

In the second half of the race, you didn't have as big of a lead. Was that by design?

Jeff Gordon: "No, I was just in a lot of traffic. The car was real good at times by itself, and at times it kept going back and forth between tight and loose. But there at the end, (Steve) Park gave me a heck of a run. Luckily we had the car dialed in right then."

With 50 laps to go, did you tell your crew to make any adjustments or to leave it like it was?

Jeff Gordon: "Well, I think they freed it up a little bit maybe with some air pressure. Luckily we ran a few laps and got the pressure built up and that's why the car was just great in clean air there out in front. That's what we were hoping for was clean air, and we were. Man the car was just great. I just want to thank everybody from DuPont. I know that we've got a lot of other sponsors - Pepsi, Fritos, Quaker State, GMAC, Chevrolet - but this one's for DuPont. They do a lot for us. We got to see a lot of those folks on Thursday in Wilmington and they have a lot of customers that came to the race today. This one's for them."

Does it feel like old times to come back to Dover and dominate?

Jeff Gordon: "Well, yes and no. I don't quite ever remember dominating like this. It's been a while. But yeah, it feels good. This has been a track where we typically come into real confident. Tony Stewart has been so strong here the last couple of races that I didn't know if anybody could touch him. It's nice to be able to get back into the swing of things and get a car that did all the things I'm searching for as a driver and that Robbie and the guys are searching for in the set-up of the racecar. When the car performs like this, it makes my job a whole lot easier. It's a lot of fun to go out there and have a day like today."

When your car is really good, what does that actually feel like?

Jeff Gordon: "Well, from here (in the stands), it probably looked like the car was on a rail and it was just easy to drive. But let me tell you, there's just no easy way around Dover. If you had scanners, you'd probably laugh. But I'd be pulling away from the rest of the field and I'd complain that the car was pushing. And it might sound like I was complaining, but this track is so hard to get the balance just right. What you have to focus on is being as good as you need to be to win the race. The same thing happens in final practice. The times were fast and the car was really great. But I didn't feel that feel that I was looking for. There were times today when I had it, but there were times I didn't. I'd come on the radio and tell them we need to free it up or we need to tighten it up. We'd just bounce back and forth between tight and loose. It's never on a rail. This place chatters because of the concrete. And that little bit of chatter really plays havoc on the grip the tires have on the racetrack especially the shocks. So there would be times that it would even surprise me. I'd be in the middle of a corner and the car would cut down just the way I wanted it to. I'd start feeding the gas and all of a sudden it would just jump sideways on me. Actually, with 10 to go, when Steve Park was behind me and I was pushing hard, I came off of turn four an the thing almost turned sideways on me. It got sideways, but it almost came all the way around. And I thought, 'Oh boy, don't do that'. And that's just how temperamental this place can be and how you're on the edge at all times."

Was there any time, such as when Dale Earnhardt Jr. spun out, that you felt like you might get hit?

Jeff Gordon: "You never know with guys trying to make-up their lap. I tried to run pretty hard back to the line because there were some good racecars getting a lap down and I knew that if they got back on the lead lap that they were going to be tough to beat. So when things like that happen, I try never to stand on the brakes and just stop. That's how you get run over. I try to maintain a certain pace and speed to the line and I move down low to get away from guys. I saw Dale Jr. up there and I knew he was moving forward in the right direction. I was just waiting to see what these guys were doing around me. I didn't think anybody was really close to run into the back of me."

Did Robbie Loomis ever talk to you on the radio and try to reel you in?

Jeff Gordon: "You're going to have to ask Robbie. I couldn't understand a thing he was saying all day long. It's so loud here, and the cars get so spread out, that all I could hear was a ringing in my ear. He'd ask me a question and I picked up bits and pieces of it. I knew when he said to pit and that was about it. Sometimes my spotter was trying to transfer information to me. We've been looking into some things to get the outside noise reduced so that I can hear clearer. This would be the perfect place to test it."

Can you describe some of the differences in the team from this year compared to last year?

Jeff Gordon: "The guys are working just as hard, I'm driving just as hard. Our set-ups aren't that much different, but they're working. I think we've learned a lot about the bodies on these racecars and we've adjusted our set-ups. Goodyear has a little bit different tire. I've never been a fan of bump stops. I just said whatever we've got to do to make them work, let's make them work because other guys were going real fast with them. We finally started hitting on it last year at Homestead. We figured out how to get them working. I had to change the way I was driving to adapt to the bump stops. Jerry Nadeau was making them work really well. So we were going through some transitions. Robbie was new to the team and we were trying to learn one another's communication. He was trying to learn the team and the people that had been there for a while.

What were you saying to Jeff that he couldn't hear?

Robbie Loomis: "He was communicating a lot about the car throughout the day. Yesterday in final practice, we were real fast. I think we were one of the top cars. I know he heard me when I told him the tires looked good. He might tell me he didn't, but I know he did."

What were your concerns over the course of the race?

Robbie Loomis: "The biggest thing is that this is Dover. And Dover is as tough as it can be on tires. But Goodyear did their homework and brought the best tire we've ever had here at Dover. We ran 86 laps at one time on a set of tires, and the right-front tire looked perfect. As far as safety and all that, Goodyear did a great job."

What adjustments did you make on the car before the race?

Robbie Loomis: "When we came in this morning, a lot of crew chiefs were talking about how good our car was. But they don't know as well as Jeff knows. When he's telling us it's doing something, you'd better be doing some adjusting to get it dialed in for him. It doesn't matter how fast he's running, he's just trying to get that feel he wants."

News Archives

Jeff Gordon Online

Copyright 2001 GM Racing.
Copyright 2001 Jeff Gordon Online.
All rights reserved.