Gordon on Kansas: The preferred lane is around the bottom

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Kansas Speedway and discussed the first practice session, a potential second groove coming in on the newly repaved surface and other topics.

Jeff Gordon, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Jeff Gordon, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

TELL US ABOUT PRACTICE: “We were moving along there pretty good making progress and we made one adjustment to try to make the car go a little faster and unfortunately it went the wrong way on us. We couldn’t get that out of it before that practice was over. I feel like we had good speed in the car up until that point. Every time you go out everybody is going faster and faster. I find it hard to believe that we are going to run quite that fast in qualifying, but you never know with repaves and cold tires what it is going to do. I feel pretty confident that we can be a lot better than what we were right there. The track is fast there is no doubt about that.”

IS THE SECOND GROOVE COMING IN? “Not yet. Not enough of one to go out there. I think that it’s going to get wider as the races go through the weekend with double file restarts and all those things. I still think the preferred lane is going to be around the bottom.”

YOU KNOW WHAT IT TAKES TO HAVE THAT VERY SPECIAL CHEMISTRY WITH A CREW CHIEF. WHAT DO YOU SEE BETWEEN BRAD KESELOWSKI AND PAUL WOLFE? “I don’t have to see it. I don’t really know Paul (Wolfe) all that well. I probably don’t pay attention to some of the things that maybe you guys pay attention to. But, I know what it takes to be a good team and to win races and be a threat for the championship or win championships. You’ve got to communicate well and you’ve got to have confidence in one another. That is obvious what they have.”

IS THAT THE TYPE OF THING THAT HELPS YOU GET THROUGH SOME TOUGH TIMES THEY HAD A BIT OF A STUMBLE LAST WEEK? “Absolutely, one moment doesn’t define your relationship as crew chief and driver. You build that up throughout the year and you build up the confidence and you go through times where you are going to struggle or you’re going to have difficulties. How you make it through those times is what makes you stronger. Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) and I have gone through that this year. However, when you’re committed to one another and you have a close driver/crew chief relationship or friendship and you believe in one another then you prevail, you get stronger, when things do go well it only makes you that much better.”

AT MARTINSVILLE NEXT WEEK YOU WILL BE IN TRAFFIC ALMOST ALL DAY LONG. WHAT KIND OF A DEMAND IS THAT MENTALLY TO TRY TO AVOID POTENTIAL TROUBLE THERE? “Gosh, you’ve got me thinking about Martinsville. I can’t wait to get there I’m already dreaming about it. It all comes down to preparation. Hendrick (Motorsports) gives me such great race cars it allows me to just go focus on my line and my entry speed. Just how we can make the car go faster get back to the throttle sooner and make the tires last over long runs. To me Martinsville is just that kind of place that you get into a rhythm and it’s important when you get into traffic to maintain that rhythm or get back into it as fast as you possibly can. I think there is no other track that demands that kind of rhythm more than Martinsville. It’s very easy to over drive the corners there. When you are around other cars you have to change your line and change what you are doing in order to make a pass. It’s about jumping right back into that rhythm that you had. It’s a part of the challenge that comes with Martinsville.”

IS THAT YOUR FAVORITE TRACK? “It’s certainly one of them. I like to go wherever we run good. For whatever reason things have changed the least amount when you think of aerodynamics and the things that we are doing to these cars, tires, track conditions have changed the least there. So it allows what I can do as a driver there to be consistent and still give good feedback and we just get to fine tune which is a nice thing. The difference is we go to all these other tracks and they were showing it there during practice. These guys skewing the rear-ends and doing all these crazy things. You are constantly pushing the limits for aerodynamics at these other tracks and doing some pretty crazy things. Sometimes those changes you feel as a driver. At Martinsville we don’t do near as much of that. That allows an old school guy like me to still be able to go to a place like Martinsville and have success and do the things that 10 years ago worked for me and still work for me now.”

WE ARE ALL TRYING TO LEARN MORE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE ABOUT THIS CONCUSSION SITUATION. LAST WEEK YOU SAID SOMETHING TO THE EFFECT OF IF THE CHAMPIONSHIP WERE IN THE BALANCE MAYBE YOU WOULDN’T BE AS HONEST WITH THE MEDICAL PEOPLE. YESTERDAY WE SAW DENNY HAMLIN, A CHAMPIONSHIP CONTENDER, HIT PRETTY HARD. HE ADMITTED HE WAS DIZZY DID THAT SURPRISE YOU AT ALL THAT HE WAS SO FORTHCOMING? “Yes and no, I think that is kind of normal if you take a big hit like that to have a little bit of dizziness. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have a concussion. I think that where I would question any forthcoming information is a day later, two days later if he had headaches or still had dizziness would he be forthcoming. I’m not judging Denny (Hamlin) or anybody else. It’s just that is a very difficult position to be in. Here is a guy that is in the championship battle with five races to go. It only makes it that much more difficult to make the right decision.”

ANYTHING ELSE ABOUT THE NEW SURFACE HERE THAT AFTER MORE CARS HAVE BEEN ON THE TRACK OR YOU HAVE JUST BECOME MORE COMFORTABLE WITH IT WITH MORE TIME ON THE TRACK? “It’s just got a lot of grip and is really fast especially in today’s conditions cool, the wind is not as bad as it has been. It’s going to change on Sunday, it’s going to be warmer the sun will possibly be out. Things are going to be a lot different on Sunday than they are today. Today we have seen some extremely fast speeds, qualifying is going to be ridiculously fast. We are definitely finding the limits of the tire, the grips level, aerodynamics. From inside the car you’ve got to be extremely committed. It is as fast of a track as I can imagine us being at this year. It kind of reminds me a little bit of Michigan but maybe even more demanding than that.”

HOW SO? “Just the grip level the track has so much grip and a track like this you are actually putting more wheel into the center of the corner because it’s a tighter radius than say at Michigan. The amount of throttle and wheel that you are putting into the car in the middle of the corner you are putting a huge demand on the tires, the car, the aerodynamics, the engine and the driver. We started reaching speeds there in that practice that were pretty darn demanding and impressive at the same time.”

OBVIOUSLY THE EXPECTATION COME SUNDAY REALISTICALLY IS THAT THIS RACE IS GOING TO BE A STRATEGY RACE… “Not necessarily because I think what you are going to see is, yeah tire wear typical pretty hard tire, new surface you don’t typically see a lot of tire wear and so tire strategy come into effect. But it doesn’t mean there are not going to be accidents and cautions and necessarily be fuel mileage race. It’s just going to come down to whether you take tires, two tires, four tires, and then whether or not we don’t see a lot of cautions, but we don’t really know that until Sunday.”

WHAT IS YOUR ROLE IN HELPING ALAN (GUSTAFSON, CREW CHIEF) WITH THE STRATEGY BEFORE AND DURING A RACE? HOW HARD IS IT TO RELINQUISH CONTROL AND LET HIM MAKE THE CALLS? “It’s tough as a driver because if you are let’s say 15th-place you are going ‘oh the car is doing this, this, or this.’ A lot of times that is just aerodynamics you are just not getting the downforce because you are behind on the cars. You have to be very careful and the crew chief has to be careful too taking that information and taking it too literally. Because sometimes a driver is frustrated out there and you can take that exact same car doing those things and put it right up there in the front in clean air and that seems to fix three quarters of your problems. I think there becomes a certain point where you work on the car, try to make it better and then there becomes a point that you go ‘okay now is when we have to start working on track position.’ That is the crew chief’s job, but the driver helps contribute to that as well by the feedback and information he is giving.”

Source: Team Chevy Racing

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Article type Interviews
Tags chevrolet, gordon, hendrick, kansas