Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Monte Carlo SS, talked with members of the motorsports media about the tire test in Darlington, how confidence affects him, his thoughts on the season to date and more. Gordon is currently second in the NASCAR Nextel Cup...
Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Monte Carlo SS, talked with members of the motorsports media about the tire test in Darlington, how confidence affects him, his thoughts on the season to date and more. Gordon is currently second in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series standings.
HOW DID THE TEST AT DARLINGTON GO? "I think the test went pretty well. Darlington is one of those tracks where it's challenging. I don't think it was as challenging as Bristol was for the load on the Car of Tomorrow. I think because the grip and the fall-off and all that, and the tires, I didn't see a big difference than just driving the car all by itself. We didn't get to run in traffic at all, I wish I would have had a chance to do that so we still don't know what the car is going to do in traffic, but by itself I thought it went well."
DO YOU THINK YOU SHOULD YOU SHOULD HAVE AN EXTRA DAY TO TEST? "Tires fall off so much there and I definitely think the Car of Tomorrow needs some more practice. Whether they do that Thursday or Friday, I think if they could do it on Friday that would be better. I thought they had planned a little more time but no doubt about it, there's a lot of unknowns to that car. Between getting the car through inspection they need more time and getting the car tuned up for the qualifying and race conditions I think we'll need more time."
CINGULAR IS SUING NEXTEL OVER SPONSORSHIP ISSUES. DO YOU THINK THIS IS GOING TO BE A PROMOTIONAL OR MARKETING FREE-FOR-ALL IF SOME SORT OF ORDER ISNT ESTABLISHED? "I guess that's not my category because we haven't had issues like that with any of our sponsors and that just tells me that there are companies that want to be a part of this sport and they don't like the fact that they're not able to be and that's a good thing. I hate that they're having some challenges with that but NASCAR's got to protect their best interests and there are companies here supporting our series as big as they are and the teams and the sponsors have to protect themselves. We deal with complex. we have companies and ourselves and it's definitely challenging. But I understand both sides of it."
HOW DOES YOUR TEAM FEEL BEING FIRST PLACE THREE RACES IN? "Our team is very solid. I feel like we've made a lot of ground from a year ago. We knew last year was going to be a tough building year for us and now we're starting to really see the benefits of that building year. If Jimmie Johnson or any team at Hendrick Motorsports does well like they did last year it only motivates the rest of us and I think that we knew it was going to take time and these first three races have gone extremely well. I just hope we can continue that and I still don't know if we've seen the full potential but the car's driving good, I'm having fun, I'm more confident, the team's more confident. I feel like Steve (Letarte) has done a really great job as a leader and taking on that leadership role. So that takes time. We know that this year is really championship for us or not a successful year."
TALK ABOUT CONFIDENCE AND HOW IT AFFECTS YOU AS A DRIVER: "Confidence is important. You gain your confidence each lap and each race one at a time. When the cars are driving good and running good like they are it certainly helps me give back good information to the race team. When you are confident you feel like you are driving the car right and you start fine tuning little things that can make you that much better."
DO YOU THINK MARK MARTIN WILL ASK FOR ADVICE ON WETHER OR NOT TO REALLY SIT OUT THE NEXT RACE? "I don't think he'd be coming to me for advice for that but I respect the fact that he's made a decision based on all the years he's been racing and the success that he has had, even though he hasn't won a championship. He's made that decision with his family. They've been committed to him all these years and following his dreams and I think that he's at the age and maturity level where he's recognized how important his family is and I respect that, that he wants to spend more time with them and not be caught up. This series is so competitive that no matter how good you do and you don't win the race, you can be miserable the whole week until the next race. That can just only build up and so your family puts up with a lot and I respect that he's made that commitment and promise to them and I think it's something he'll live up to."
WAS THE TIRE ALL OF IT LAST WEEK OR DOES VEGAS TELLS YOU SOMETHING ABOUT ATLANTA AS WELL? "Well, we ran really strong here last year. I think this. two things. One is that we ran really well here last year. Two is that I feel like we're just bringing better cars to the race track. I feel like from all aspects, aerodynamics, chassis set up, horsepower, that we've improved our race team this year. And it's already shown some. Last week's race didn't have anything to do with this week's race other than to see who has got their act together and who doesn't. That tire and that race track can be of no comparison to this one."
ON BILL FRANCE, JR.: "He's passionate about it and even though maybe he might not be present here at the race track you'll still hear about it. If you're talking to Brian or Mike Helton or when I do see Bill 'I was watching this race and I said this' and he doesn't miss a beat. He's sharp as a tack and I think that it started with his father really instilling in him what is going to make this sport strong. I think he's just carried on that vision that his father had and then taking it to a whole new level of competition, to reaching out to the fans, to taking it outside of the Southeast and making it a lot more than just a stock car racing series. It's really the ultimate racing series in America and I don't even know if he ever really knew it was going to get to that level but it happened because of how hard he pushed for it and how passionate he was in the decision making of saying, 'this is what's happening, this is what we need to go after and this is how we have to get there."
-credit: gm racing