Jeff Gordon thought he had a top-five car for qualifying on Saturday, but it didn’t work out that way. In his third race as a fill-in driver for Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is sidelined with concussion-like symptoms, Gordon had to settle for the 21st starting position.
“I was pretty disappointed,” Gordon said of his qualifying runs at the 2.45-mile Watkins Glen road course. “We were fast (in Friday’s practice). I felt like we were going to have no issues moving through to Round 2. I was more thinking about whether we could get in the top five. That’s not the way it went for our Axalta Chevrolet.
“The first run out I was a little conservative, just because I knew the grip level was down (thanks to overnight rain that washed rubber from the track). I just wanted to put a solid lap together and hit every corner. I got a little bit loose at the top of the esses. The second time out, I tried to attack a little bit more, and unfortunately, when I did that, I missed Turn 1 and my shift point, and that kind of just got us off the whole time.”
Nevertheless, Gordon was optimistic about his prospects for Sunday’s Cheez-It 355.
“I like this race track,” said Gordon, a four-time winner at the Glen. “I like the repave. The tire is a little tricky, but the team has done an excellent job and I’m having fun out there shifting and turning right and left…
“We’ve got our work cut out for us, but we’ve got a race car just like we have every weekend – so far I’ve been in the car – that can work its way forward.”