Chevy NASCAR NEXTEL Cup: Jeff Gordon and Richard Childress Practice Notes California Speedway JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: (ON BEING JUST AS FAST TODAY AS IN YESTERDAY'S PRACTICE SESSION) "We did. I was a little surprised...
Chevy NASCAR NEXTEL Cup: Jeff Gordon and Richard Childress Practice Notes California Speedway
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
(ON BEING JUST AS FAST TODAY AS IN YESTERDAY'S PRACTICE SESSION) "We did. I was a little surprised with the time. I felt like the car was as good as it was last night. I didn't think we could run faster today in the sun but we did. We ran great. The car is pretty good for the race team so I'm happy with it. I look forward to qualifying. I'm obviously a little concerned with the time of day that qualifying is versus when we practiced since we practiced early in the morning and late in the evening. The track is going to lose a lot of grip for qualifying."
(ON THE TEAM'S PERFORMANCE AFTER LAST WEEK'S GOOD FINISH) "We're just happy to we have some things that have been positive and going our way. We haven't looked like we've had the best performance out there but we have had some good situations. In Michigan we made it on fuel. We had a good finish out of a day that was going to be horrible. At Bristol we went on and came back to get sixth. Its just kind of nice to get some things going our way."
(ON PREVIOUS ENGINE PROBLEMS AND ANY QUALMS GOING INTO THE RACE) "When you're making as much power as these things make these days, the engine guys are always biting their nails every where we go and every weekend. But as far as the issue we had earlier in the year, that part has been resolved. We're pushing the limits constantly trying to make more power, trying to keep up and stay ahead of competition. Any time you do those things, you feel confident that what you have in there is going last all day but you also don't really know."
(ON GETTING ON AND OFF PIT ROAD HERE AND THAT BEING KEY TO THE RACE) " I'm usually the one that leans a bit more towards the cautious side making sure that I get on to pit road, then try to be aggressive as you leave pit road. As the day goes on, it just depends on how many green flag stops you make. The more green flag stops you make, the more power you get and the more aggressive you can get as the race goes on. My biggest thing is not making mistakes coming into pit road."
(HOW MUCH OF THE CHASE IS ON YOUR MIND DURING THE RACE?) "The race itself keeps your attention enough as it is. You're just trying to battle with other cars trying to work your way to the front or stay up front and constantly thinking about the handling of the car. I think maybe late in the race it starts to come more into your mind as the race is winding down. You start to get an idea of where you think you're going to finish."
(DO TEAMMATES WORK TOGETHER TO HELP ONE ANOTHER GET IN THE CHASE) "I don't think we've talking about it a whole lot. I think everybody is aware of how close we are to making it in there. Brian Vickers has made an incredible come back and had a good run last week. It's on the minds of a lot of people but I think we're just working together as teammates as we always have."
(ON THE ENGINE GUYS HAVING TO STEP IT UP WITH THE GEAR RULE) "It's definitely been a challenge for them. The rpm is your friend when you can make it lift and make power. Last year we definitely had that combination working for us. This year we've had to really kind of rethink the way we go about it. I think we are making good power. I don't know if we're the best out there but I think we're one of them."
(ON BRAKES NOT LIVING AS LONG AS THEY USUALLY DO) "We haven't had an issue with brakes in that area. I think the brakes are so good on these cars right now. You go to Martinsville or some place like that where you really need the brakes to slow you down. We're only talking a couple hundred rpm difference that what we used to be from what we are now."
(ON HIS UPCOMING APPEARANCE MONDAY, SEPT. 5 ON THE ELLEN DEGENERES SHOW) "We taped it day before yesterday. She was great. With everything going on with the hurricane, the show really revolves around that. That just shows you what kind of person she is. She's got the ability to reach out to a lot of people and really make a difference in getting help out there, so a lot of focus is around the Red Cross and supporting their efforts there. I'm fortunate that DuPont is a company that is donating a million dollars to a lot of different organizations for that relief. And our other sponsors are doing a lot of things. I donated a uniform to Ellen, the Ellen Degeneres Show, that they're going to put on E-bay and raffle off to try to raise some money as well."
(YOU HAVE A PRETTY FAST WORLD, BUT HOW DOES THIS HURRICANE AFTERMATH COME INTO PERSPECTIVE?) "Like a lot of us, we wish we could stop what we're doing and put everything else on hold and go down there and help. Whatever they need, you wish you could provide. It's so devastating to see something like that happen. I don't think anybody realized just what a hurricane could do in an area like that where flooding is already an issue. It breaks you heart to see what everybody is going through. It's just something in this country you rarely ever see. I just wish they get their help and that there is something we can all do in this community (NASCAR) even from afar that we can contribute to -- money-wise, or whatever contributions we can do. We're working on a plan right now to figure out what we can do and do the best thing for them."
(WHY HAVE YOU BEEN A LITTLE OFF THIS YEAR ON THE DOWNFORCE TRACKS AND DO YOU THINK IT'S BEEN CORRECTED?) "I don't know. We don't know. If we did, we certainly wouldn't be in that position. We're constantly working at it to be better. We're even trying some things a little bit different here. This is the same car we had in Michigan, which we felt like was a good car. But we've definitely got different combinations set-up wise, hoping to find something. So far, it's been working. I've been real happy with the car. We'll wait and see."
(WHEN YOU GET IN THE CAR THIS WEEKEND, ARE YOU THINKING ABOUT THE FACT THAT YOU'VE WON THREE TIMES HERE AND LED MORE LAPS THAN ANYBODY, OR THAT YOU'VE STRUGGLED ON DOWNFORCE TRACKS THIS YEAR?) "I'm just thinking that this has been a good track for us. No matter what kinds of success I've had at any track, when I go into it you have maybe a little more confidence when you go into those tracks. But then it's all about how the car reacts. You go out there and the car feels good to you, you build on that. If you go out there and you struggle and you can't get it, you can't get it, you can't get it, you think, man, why do we suck so bad on these downforce tracks? Right now, we're running good and things are feeling good and that's not even on our mind right now."
RICHARD CHILRESS, OWNER OF RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING
(DO YOU THINK IT IS RIGHT OR WRONG THAT DRIVERS ARE SIGNING CONTRACTS FOR A YEAR IN ADVANCE?) "I don't even want to comment on that because not knowing their conditions or contracts, it wouldn't be fair for me to comment on it."
(ARE THESE SITUATIONS WITH CONTRACTS DIFFICULT? IT'S NOT EASY ON ANYBODY IS IT?) "It should be easy. It just depends on what they (the driver) want."
(IS IT PRETTY COMPETITIVE IN THE GARAGE FOR THE GREAT DRIVERS?) "It's always been competitive since I had Dale Earnhardt in the '80s. He was probably the most sought after driver from 1984 on."
(HOW WERE YOU ABLE TO KEEP DALE EARNHARDT THROUGH ALL THAT?) "He and I had a really great working relationship. He knew what he wanted and he knew what we had accomplished. He wanted to be with us and we wanted him to be there."
(WAS THERE A TIME YOU THOUGHT DALE EARNHARDT MIGHT JUMP SHIP?) "Not really. We never even discussed money. This was the old days. As a sponsorship would raise, we would give him more and the whole thing grew together. He was dedicated. He had a chance to leave. I told him in 1985 after we had blown 11 engines that year and run horrible. I told him on the way back from Pocono, we met out by my pool, and I said 'Dale, you're too good of a race driver to be here.' He said, 'we made a commitment together, we're going to finish it together.' That was 1985 and we came next year and won 11 races and the championship and the same thing in '87 and the rest of it is history."
(IN THE END, ISN'T IT ALL ABOUT THE DRIVER AND THE OWNER?) "It's a team combination. There's more to racing than just one individual. I think it's a team kind of thing. You have to be a team player to be a winner."
(DO YOU WORRY ABOUT LOSING A GUY LIKE KEVIN HARVICK?) "I don't worry about nothing. I have a lot of concerns. My life is full of concerns but I try not to worry."
(ON ISC BUYING ACTION PERFORMANCE AND THE AFFECT ON THE COLLECTIBLES BUSINESS) "I think it's going to be great. I think Fred Wagenhals has done a great job over the years. He's made so many people in here so much money including myself and most of the drivers that's ever driven for me. A lot of other people in this garage area owe a lot to Fred Wagenhals. Fred has an opportunity to see where the high-ups see. I think it's a great call on his part and a great deal to have. We're racing to have them people owning the company and I think it won't do anything but help everybody."
(HOW WILL THIS AFFECT THE ACCESS FANS WILL HAVE TO DIE-CASTS?) "I don't know about that. I just think it will better. I think we'll go to a lot better places and a lot more places."
(ON THE FRANCES AND SMITHS WORKING TOGETHER. DID YOU EVER THINK YOU WOULD SEE THAT HAPPEN?) "Not really. It's great to see that they can work together."
(WHAT KIND OF OWNER WOULD YOU SAY YOU ARE?) "I guess a lot of people have a lot different opinions. I would like to think that I'm a fair owner. I would like to think that I'm dedicated to the sport and dedicated to what I tell people. That's what I'd like to be remembered as a straight-shooter. It's not how many championships you win but that I was a straight-shooter."
(DOES IT BOTHER YOU THAT PEOPLE SAY YOU'RE TEAMS AREN'T AS GOOD?) "Our teams are very good. We've ran a lot better than our finishes have shown due to wrecks and loose wheels and bad pit stops. I've seen great teams. That shows when a great team can run and come back. All you've got to do is look and see the years when Jeff Gordon was off or the years that Roush struggled. They come back. You got to come back and it's no different when we struggled in '88 and '92 and '96 and we came back and were really good for some years. This business is kind of like the mountains - you hit your peaks and your valleys. You've got to be strong in the valleys to come back to the next peak."
(DOES IT BOTHER YOU THAT YOUR TEAMS WILL NOT MAKE THE CHASE THIS YEAR?) "I don't want to comment on that."
(SHOULD NASCAR GET MORE INVOLVED WITH RETALIATION?) "I think it should be done the same as every week. That's what got you there. You should be looked at the same every week."