JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Dover International Speedway and discussed Rick Hendrick on Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s radio last week, not being the favorite in the Chase, racing at Dover, Kyle Busch, how he...
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Dover International Speedway and discussed Rick Hendrick on Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s radio last week, not being the favorite in the Chase, racing at Dover, Kyle Busch, how he feels about where he is in the Chase and other subjects.
HOW WAS YOUR PRACTICE? "Practice was great. Car feels awesome. Top of the board so that's always good. We drew a good number, we just got to make sure that we keep up with the track conditions and I think we've got a shot at it."
A LOT CAN HAPPEN IN A WEEK; WE SAW THAT LAST WEEK IN NEW HAMPSHIRE, HOW MUCH DOES EACH WEEK CORRELATE TO THE PREVIOUS OR ARE THEY THEIR OWN INDIVIDUAL? "Every track is different so depending on what tracks you run good at. I was a little disappointed with the way we performed last week in New Hampshire. That was one of the tracks that we felt like we could come out of in good shape. We had some issues. I think we had about a fifth-place car myself. Unfortunately we didn't get that out of it so now we've got some ground to make up this weekend. This is a good track for us and we're running good so hopefully we can make something happen this weekend."
HOW IS DOVER DIFFERENT FROM OTHER TRACKS? "It's concrete, it's high-banked and very fast, it's one mile. Compare that to any other track that doesn't have those characteristics. It is pretty unique. There's a lot of corner here. A lot of speed and its pretty narrow. So getting the car balanced right, getting the grip is pretty tricky."
DO YOU ENJOY RACING HERE? "I love it here. I love racing here at Dover. It's definitely the complete opposite of what we had last week in New Hampshire. New Hampshire is very flat, very tight corners. You use a lot of brake there. This is completely opposite of that."
IF YOU WERE KYLE BUSCH THIS WEEK HOW MUCH SELF-DOUBT AFTER NEW HAMPSHIRE IS CREEPING INTO HIM AND THAT TEAM THIS WEEK? "I can promise you one thing about Kyle this weekend; he's going to be going really fast and bouncing pretty much off of everything there is to bounce off of. If he keeps it going straight there's a very good chance he can win this race this weekend. That's just Kyle. He's a very aggressive driver and when he has a week like he had last week, he's ready to make up for it right here in one week. It should be exciting to watch."
IF KYLE BUSCH HAS TWO BAD RACES IN A ROW, IS THAT THE KIND OF THING WITH HIS MENTALITY AND MATURITY HE MIGHT NOT BE ABLE TO RECOVER FROM? "I don't know we'll have to all wait and see. They've been really strong all year. They've shown a level of maturity and experience and speed that I don't think any of us expected out of that team including Kyle. You never know what to expect after that. As good as they've been this year, I would imagine they're going to have some good moments here in the Chase and we'll all just kind of wait to have to see."
HOW OFTEN DOES RICK (HENDRICK) STEP IN AND OFFER YOU GUIDANCE, WHETHER IT'S ON THE TRACK, OFF THE TRACK? "He and I mainly talk about other things besides racing when I'm talking to him. On the radio, he's rarely come on. If anything he'll come on from time to time when we're late in the race and maybe have a shot at the win he might say something to me, other than that I can't say he's come on the radio a whole lot with me."
CAN YOU COMPARE YOUR SITUATION AT ALL IN YOUR CAREER TO WHAT JUNIOR'S GOING THROUGH RIGHT NOW? "No, I mean everybody has their own way of going about it. They're own personality. They're own relationship with the team and crew chief. Junior, we love hearing his comments on the radio because he cracks us up. The things that he gets wound up about, the things that he jokes about, that's just not me. I try not to talk on the radio much and when I do I'd like to take back most of what I say. I try to just get back to focusing on the race car. Whatever works for them. If Rick getting on the radio is helpful then I think it's great. There's been times when I think I've needed that and he has come on. I can't say it happens very often."
JUNIOR SAID I WANT TO WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP, I WANT TO DO IT, HOW DO I GO ABOUT DOING IT IS REALLY NOBODY ELSES BUSINESS BUT MY OWN. IS THAT KIND OF A FAIR ASSESMENT FOR ALL YOU GUYS? "Yeah. I think that this day and age there's more media, there's more access to everything that goes on. There's very few secrets so it's harder to go about it that way, so you have to be realistic and know that everybody knows your business. Sometimes they know more than you know. At least they think they do. So, it's harder. The scrutiny is more intense and it's harder to go about your business without everybody wanting to be involved but that's part of the intensity, part of the challenge that is more than it's ever been in this sport to win races and win championships. But it would be nice if we had it our way, yeah. We'd be able to go about it on our own terms without people getting involved and being critics, outside critics and just be able to focus on our job."
HOW IMPORTANT IS THE REGULAR SEASON WITH KYLE (BUSCH) LOSING LAST WEEKEND ALL THE BONUS POINTS HE HAD COMING IN TO THE CHASE? "Now, you have to be careful, because if you didn't have those 80 bonus points going in to it and you had last week's race, you would be 12th in points. So, those bonus points are still working for him. Now they just have to put that behind them and come back and get it together this weekend. He won this race the last time we were here. There is a very good chance he could do it again.
IF YOU HAVE A DREADFUL SEASON AND BARELY SQUEEZE IN TO THE CHASE, CAN YOU COME BACK AND WIN IT? "You can't have a dreadful regular season. Even with us, that is one thing I look at our season. It hasn't been a spectacular season for us, but we were good enough to be in the Chase so there is something to say about that. Dreadful...you aren't going to be in the Chase, it is just too competitive. But you can squeeze your way in to it and not have a terrific regular season and still win the championship.
"It has yet to be done. We saw (Clint) Bowyer probably come closest of anybody last year. When he came in I believe he was 12th or tied for whatever it was, he won the first race and boom, it was up in the top two or three all season long. That was impressive. It can still happen and I hope it does. You look toward the back. You have (Matt) Kenseth, me, Harvick; there are some good guys that can put a string of good races together."
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT NOT BEING CONSIDERED ONE OF THE FAVORITES RIGHT NOW? "I would much rather be in the position of being one of the favorites because that talk about what kind of year we had. But, at the same time, there are times when it is kind of nice to be under the radar and not be the one everybody if focused on. That just adds more pressure. You have to answer a totally different set of questions. At the same time, if I had my choice, I would still rather be the guy they are all talking about."
I WANTED TO ASK ABOUT YOU BECAUSE EVERYBODY ELSE IS ASKING QUESTIONS ABOUT THE OTHER GUYS, WHAT IS YOUR MENTAL ATTITUDE GOING IN RIGHT NOW? "Yea, but that is what I expect. When I come out here, I expect it because we haven't won a race. I expect to be asked either about not winning or what other guys are doing. There are stories to be told. My job is to go out and perform the best as I can as a driver. If I get asked questions in the media, I chose to answer them the way that I want to answer. That is just the way that it works, we aren't having a great year, then you know, and we aren't going to have a great year every year, I know that. I am 37 now, I understand more about how this sport works today than I ever have. If I am not being talked about, it is only because we didn't create it. Our job is to figure out how to re-create that and get it back."
WHY IS IT A PRIORITY FOR YOU TO ALWAYS STAY AND TALK AFTER THE RACE, NO MATTER WHAT? "I don't know, it is just the way we have always done it. While there are moments that your frustration level gets the best of you and you may need some time to cool down before you say something that you wish you could take back. With that in mind, we have just always done it that way. I think you have respect for the media; they are a big part of this sport. Whether you have a good day or a bad day, you have got to talk about both sides. You can't just only come out when you have a smile on your face and everything is going your way. Sometimes you have to answer the tough questions too, whether you like it or not. I think we have always tried to respect the media. They have been good to us and we try to give them that same courtesy back."
DOES IT BOTHER YOU THAT MEDIA AS WELL AS FANS LISTEN TO YOUR RADIO TRANSMISSIONS? "I wish I was aware of it more. In the car it is so intense. Adrenaline is flowing. I'm talking to myself sometimes. I'm talking to my teams. The last thing I am thinking about is the fans; but I do know that a lot of them have scanners or sit at home and can hear on the internet,
"I think it is great that they have that kind of access, but I also think that they need to understand what comes along with that. There are going to be things sometimes that aren't going to be appropriate for kids and I hope they understand that. When you are in an intense sport, running 200 miles per hour and things don't go your way, sometimes you say things that are meant for adults. That probably gets the best of all of us at time, but other than that, I think the access they have to be able to hear what's going on is what makes our sport fantastic. I think as long as everybody understands it, the only issue I have and I have always been pretty clear on this, if the media is going to use what they get over a scanner that they use it in the context that it was and the time frame it was used. We have had issues before where they will take a clip of something that happens video wise and link up my voice that came from a different clip and put them together and that is the only issue that I have with it. I think that as long as it is used in the same context, in the same incident, then I have no problem with it because that is what I said. We know it is being broadcast, we know it is being recorded. Just like what I do in the race car that is being filmed, same thing."
DO YOU AND STEVE (LETARTE) SCRIPT OUT A RACE BEFORE IT STARTS? "No, what we normally do is, he has a sheet that basically starts at the end of the race. It backs up from the end of the race as far as what our fuel mileage, our tire wear and then it plays out scenarios if the cautions comes at certain laps, what we are going to do. Then we the same thing from the beginning if there aren't cautions. I think that is about as close as you can get to scripting. You never know how it is going to go. You never know how the car is going to handle. You never know what position you are going to be in, there is no way to do it."
SO IT IS MORE LIKE AN IMPROV? "Absolutely. There might be some guys that say that their race went as well as they could ever script it, but that is just because they were very fortunate and everything went their way that day."
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE RICHARD PETTY STORY? "Mine is that I got to race against him. I am one of the few guys in this garage that got to race against him. Even though it was only once, his last race, my first race in Atlanta. That was a great experience and memory for me to be able to watch him that weekend, the way he was with the media, the fans and to the other competitors as well. Especially now, looking back on it, it truly was a historical moment. It certainly was for me and my career."
-credit: gm racing