Rewind: Jeff Gordon started on the pole for the Gatorade Duel and the field quickly went into two-car drafts which have become standard during Daytona Speedweeks. Gordon drafted early in front of Trevor Bayne. He was pushed to the front on two occasions by the 19-year-old rookie. The duo was broken up by a caution flag with 23 laps to go, which mandated they re-start parallel to each other. However, Bayne eased up to allow Gordon to lead their drafting pack, thus showing wisdom well beyond his years. On the final lap, Gordon got loose coming out of turn four with Bayne tucked in behind. The car brushed the wall and made contact with Bayne, thus triggering a wreck. Gordon masterfully steered around the spinning cars of Bayne and Ragan to bring the car back with minimal damage.
Road ahead: The #24 car will repair the primary car for Sunday’s race. Gordon will start on the outside of the front row along side Kurt Busch, with Jeff Burton directly behind him. Gordon’s car seemed to struggle on restarts in the Gatorade Duel as the partnership with Bayne lost spots on every restart.
WHAT HAPPENED THERE AT THE END? “I just could not get going on the restarts. I really had a blast working with Trevor Bayne. He’s a good kid. He’s a heck of a race car driver. They’ve got a fast race car. We just couldn’t get going on the restarts though. I’m not sure why we couldn’t get that momentum. So we lost a lot of spots on every restart and then once we got going, we were fast; real fast. There at the end, we lost so many spots we were just trying to make up a few. A couple of guys looked like they lost momentum and got disconnected and I had to go three-wide around them. It’s a vulnerable spot. We’ve already seen that in practice at the some other races and it turned me. And when it did, I was lucky that we didn’t have worse damage than we did. But I got in the wall. So, we’ll have to see if we can fix it. I was just thrilled with the car and thrilled with the team. I thought everything was going really, really good with the Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet. Unfortunately it didn’t end very well and we’ll just go to work and see what we have to do for the 500.”
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE RACING THAT’S GOING ON OUT THERE? “Really intense. It’s actually really fun from inside the car once you get going under green and it gets spread out a little bit and you’re just racing with four or six other guys. Those restarts are not a lot of fun. But no restart at Daytona or Talladega is a whole lot of fun. But once you get going, I think it’s pretty cool. Trying to figure out how to pass a guy and looking at your temps and trying to find a partner. There is a lot of strategy involved. You’ve got to drive the car, because it’s not easy. And we’re seeing some great finishes. I don’t know. It is kind of what it is and we’ve got to try to figure out how we’re going to get through 500 miles of it.”
ARE YOU FINE WITH IT, OR WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE THEM MAKE A CHANGE OF SOME SORT? “I don’t think there are any changes that need to be made or can be made. Am I fine with it? It’s not what I prefer. I prefer to go back and race like we did in 2005 (laughs). But you know that’s not going to happen. But I think NASCAR has done pretty much all that they can do, but maybe they’ll do more. I don’t know. I just want to go race and I think we’ve got a fast race car. We’ve just got to get hooked up with the right guys and see what we can do from there.”
HOW MUCH DAMAGE IS THERE? “I don’t know. They’ll look at it. That right-front fender has got me concerned. We’ll go from there.”
In Car Audio
[audio:http://www.scannerbytes.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Jeff-Gordon-2011-02-17-Gatorade-Duel-Daytona.mp3|titles=Jeff Gordon – 2011-02-17 – Gatorade Duel – Daytona]