JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Dover International Speedway and discussed racing at Dover, laying a wreath on Tomb of Unknown Soldier, Chase format, doing part-time NASCAR schedule and other topic. WHAT...
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Dover International Speedway and discussed racing at Dover, laying a wreath on Tomb of Unknown Soldier, Chase format, doing part-time NASCAR schedule and other topic.
WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR QUALIFYING TODAY: "We are probably going to start a little bit tighter than we did the last time we were here. I think the concrete tracks lose a little bit of grip when you go to qualify as the sun heats it up. There is a little bit of an unknown here with the tire and exactly what it is going to do. Feels like it has good grip but the balance is a little bit different than what we have had in the past. We start off practice really really good. Then some guys got ahead of us so we sort of got off there so we are going make some conservative stabs at it of what we think is the best and hope that the track gives up a little bit and comes back to us a little bit and we can get a top-10. Jimmie (Johnson) did the tire test here and seems like he has a pretty good edge right now for qualifying. I am anxious to see where everybody ends up."
WHAT STILL MOTIVATES YOU TO COME IN EVERY WEEKEND TO WIN RACES AND CONTEND FOR A CHAMPIONSHIP? "I like the competition. I don't like to finish second or anywhere after that. That is what motivates you. I have never won a Sprint Cup before so to me it is like never winning a championship. The four that we have won are something that we are very proud of but it is under the old format and so I feel like we are as hungry as we have ever been to win this championship. Plus, when you are having a good year and things are going well, the cars are handling well, the team is performing well, that is motivation in itself.
"There is no doubt that Mark (Martin) is highly motivated. I think he is in a great position because he stepped away from this sport from a full-time aspect and I think....I would love to do that. I would love to step away and be able to do a limited schedule knowing you could come back with one of the top teams and run a full schedule. Because it just allows you to put all things in perspective-your priorities, your goals and how much you appreciate the sport. He loves being here like many of us do. But, when you are in the grind constantly, all of the time, it eats at you, no doubt about it, year in and year out.
"To me this past off season was a huge motivator for me because it was the most time I have ever had to really relax and step away and realize how much me personally wanted to come back this year and be very competitive and put behind us the year that we had last year. I think that Mark has a lot of that going for him as well doing the part-time schedule that he has done in the past.
"Now that he has resigned, we'll see how and what all takes place two or three years from now when he has been back in the grind a little while. But I know he is having a lot of fun this year and obviously that team is doing a great job."
DOES IT DO ANYTHING TO THE PSYCHY OF YOUR TEAM WHEN YOU HAVE DOMINATED A SEASON AND HAVE THOSE POINTS DISAPPEAR WHEN THE CHASE STOPS AND SHOULD NASCAR GIVE BONUS POINTS TO A GUY WHO DOES THAT? "I think they have got it pretty good right now. If you are consistent, you are in the Chase. If you win races, you get bonus points for that. I look at the system and I say that we should have won more races during the regular season to put ourselves in a better position going in to New Hampshire. I think they have got it down pretty good. To me I look at other playoff systems in other sports and it reminds me a lot of those playoff systems. If you did well during the regular season and you won races, it has you seeded at the top. If you are a team that has momentum like the No. 42 let's say and you get yourself in to the Chase, but your start the playoff if you want to call it that, the Chase well, you have a shot at winning the championship and knocking those guys off that were ahead of you. I don't see anything any different. Plus, we all know what it is going in to it.
"So, do I wish that we had the old points system? Sort of. I liked the old points system. It worked very well for me but that is a personal thing. I think it is better for the sport and it is something, like I mentioned earlier, it is motivation for me and our team to win it under this format. I think it is more challenging and I think that because I haven't won it. I won it four times in the other format, haven't won it at all with this format. So it is very challenging and I think maybe my driving style and our team as consistent as we are, have a better shot at the championship under the old format. But, that is something that we have to work on not NASCAR."
TALK ABOUT YOUR VISIT TO ARLINGTION NATIONAL CEMETeRY AND LAYING THE WREATH ON THE TOMB OF THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER: "It was a huge honor. The National Guard has been a great sponsor for us this year. I have learned so much about what they do in all different aspects of the military and the in-depth details you just don't see and hear about on a day-to-day basis. Being able to have the opportunity to go to Arlington Cemetery. It is an eye-opening experience. It puts a lot of things in perspective of just how men and women in the military have sacrificed so us, for our freedom. Then you go to see the changing of the guard and lay the wreath. Wow. It's definitely an emotional experience. Something I was truly honored to be a part of and pay tribute to those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. I am thankful that National Guard gave us that opportunity to be there and experience it."
DO YOU MIND RECALLING THE MAIN QUALITIES THAT STRUCK YOU WHEN MONTOYA FIRST STARTED RACING AT THE CUP LEVEL AND ARE YOU SEEING DIFFERENT QUALITITES TODAY? "Before he got here I always thought he was a very talented race car driver. You don't do the things he's done and change from the Indy Cars over to Formula One and win races there and be competitive without having a lot of talent. So I knew he brought that talent in here and it was just a matter of time of utilizing that talent in a Cup car because it's exact opposite. Having the experience of driving his car years ago I know that it's exact opposite driving his car verses driving our cars. So I think that it was kind of how you handled the aggressiveness that he has, he's a very aggressive driver. Then you've got to get the team. That team has not been on top of their game in the past so I feel like it was a little bit of growth period for both of them. For Juan as well as the team. I said this half way through the season that I felt like they were a team that was going to surprise people if they make it into the Chase and they've already done that. It's just because he's gotten more consistent, he's gotten better, he understands the cars, competition and tracks and the team is starting to give him the equipment to go along with it."
HOW IS THE FORMULA ONE CAR AND A CUP CAR OPPOSITE? "The Formula One car you drive as deep as you can possibly drive into the corner and you push on the brake as hard as you possibly can. You turn the wheel and the car turns. You step on the gas and the car accelerates. Just go to the opposite of that and . . . our cars you just really have to finesse the cars a lot more. There are times you have to be aggressive and Juan obviously has that. He shows that. Sometimes you've got to get the car to work around your driving style and he has an aggressive style. There's no doubt about it. But you can't just go in and push on the brake pedal as hard as you can with our cars."
YOU SAID YOU COULD STEP AWAY AND DO A PARTIAL SCHEDULE IF YOU KNEW YOU COULD COME BACK TO A TOP RIDE, DO YOU THINK YOU HAVE IN YOU TO EVER RIDE A PARTIAL SCHEDULE WITHOUT KNOWING THAT? "I don't know. I don't see it every happening really for me. I love racing for the championship and its one of those things where I kind of look at it and think wow that would be cool and fun but at the same time I'm in a position where I'm fully committed to Hendrick and I'm also in a equity position there so I see the business side of it as well. So I don't see how me doing a part-time schedule would really work for Hendrick from a business standpoint. If there becomes a time down the road where I say hey Rick I would like to step away or I'd like to do a limited schedule I'm sure we could work that out but I don't think it would ever be with the intention of coming back to a full schedule."
WHAT KIND OF A SKILL IS IT FOR A DRIVER TO GET ONTO PIT ROAD AS FAST AS THEY CAN WITHOUT GOING OVER THE SPEED LIMIT? "Some of it is you practice it during practice. You might practice how hard you can get into pit road. The other part of it is just being aggressive. If you want to be aggressive there's risk involved with that. Even with all the light systems that we have now, it's still not the most accurate way to do it. You still are not guaranteed you're not going to speed or anything. You can still carry a little bit too much speed trying to get all the way to that line. I usually play it conservative the first time down pit road. I'll usually pick a spot a couple laps prior to coming in. I usually will run ¾ speed in there during practice to get an indication of what the best way in there is. Then the first time I'm usually a little bit conservative and that gives me my mark from there on the rest of the day. I'm probably the kind of guy and I think this how I'm on the race track as well, I'm the kind of person that I would rather be consistently decent instead of being spectacular one time and then being over the speed limit the next time."
YOU'VE BEEN INVOLVED IN THE CHASE IN YEARS PAST, SITTING IN THE POSITION THAT YOU ARE 102 POINTS BACK HOW DO YOU FEEL YOU HAVE TO FINISH THIS WEEKEND TO HAVE A GOOD SHOT IN THE LAST EIGHT RACES TO BE NEAR THE TOP AT THE END OF THE SEASON? "We need to be in the top-10. That's really the bottom line. Everybody is going to have a 15th or worse place finish I believe somewhere along the way. It could possibly be worse than that when you get to Talladega and Martinsville those places where the unknown is there. Obviously we've got some ground to make up but we're not sitting here going okay we've got to make it all up right here at Dover. We're in a do or die situation. We're not. We're looking at it as nine races. We've got nine races to get our consistency up, our performance up. We've got to lead some laps. When we're in a position to battle for a win we've got to pull off the win. Last week wasn't our best performance. It was just one of those days where the car was off a little bit on the restarts, we tried to adjust for it and it didn't help. We did some pit strategy where we had some issues on the pit stop. It was just one of those days all the way around. It just wasn't our day so we came out of there 15th. That's not terrible even though we are 100 and something points behind we can't look at that as a devastating day in our Chase or think that it's over because it's certainly not. We've seen in the past where there's been much bigger deficits. But we definitely need to have a solid performance this weekend and we've got to capitalize at the tracks that our best tracks. I think Kansas is a good track for us. I think Charlotte is a good track for us. Believe it or not Texas I think is a good track for us. Martinsville is a good track for us. So there's a lot of good tracks. This is a decent track for us, it's not our best track but it's a decent track for us so we've got to minimize the damage and try to maximize the performance."
-credit: gm racing