Gordon talks about "The Streak" BRISTOL, Tenn. (Aug. 21, 1998) Selected quotes from Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Refinishes Chevrolet, concerning Saturday's Goody's Headache Powder 500 and his quest to win his fifth ...
Gordon talks about "The Streak"
BRISTOL, Tenn. (Aug. 21, 1998)
Selected quotes from Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Refinishes Chevrolet, concerning Saturday's Goody's Headache Powder 500 and his quest to win his fifth straight event:
ON THE IMPACT OF THE WEEKEND
"It's just another weekend to come in here, get out with a good finish or go out looking sad. It's pretty amazing I've won four-in-a-row. I would like to win five-in-a-row... That's not what we're just looking for. We're going to each race, trying to win. Some we've dominated at, some we've just been plain lucky.
"It's the first high profile thing we're going for in NASCAR that nobody ever has done. That's drawing attention to it. We're going to Bristol to race, not saying 'we're going for five-in-a-row.' If we could pick and choose, I would probably pick Sears Point or Pocono or some place like that, not Bristol, to be trying to win at. This is a Russian Roulette track. The bomb can go off at any time and it's an explosion. This place is about being at the right place at the right time, and you've got to have the car.
"Tempers flare here so easy. I blame myself for some of the things that happened here last year. It's so easy to get mad. Tempers can flare instantly. Guys who can control it and be patient, can come out of here with a good finish.
"It's important to have a car that's running up front but even that didn't save us last year. Tempers flare. I was responsible quite a bit for what happened last year. I was more concerned about keeping Geoff Bodine (lapped car) behind me than just letting him go. He was racing me hard, and got into me. I got mad, Jeremy (Mayfield) was underneath me and I didn't give him enough room. You've got to keep everything in focus."
HOW HE RELIES ON CREW CHIEF RAY EVERNHAM
"I always try to rely on Ray for a lot of things. There are times when he knows to say things and when not to and he knows to calm me down or try to, and I try to do the same with him. We're clicking and communicating better than ever. Things like Bristol can tear all of that apart. We'll be relying on all that a little bit more here at Bristol. If it gets exciting out there and he hears it in my voice, then, he tries to settle me down.
ON QUANTIFYING HIS STREAK
"I'm not putting a lot of emphasis on it. I didn't realize how much attention it was drawing until a couple days ago. We're doing the same things we always do, not saying we're going for five-in-a-row, or whatever. This place can be a dog fight no matter what you're trying to do. We had a car capable of winning this night race last year but we got caught up with a lapped car after a caution. If we do it (continue the streak) I'll talk to you about it Saturday night.
"The only way I know how to compare it or whatever year it was when Rusty (Wallace) won 10 races. I was saying 'man there's no way, he's lucky, he's cheating, there's no way.' So, it was great to hear him say it was just hard work and to hear him say our team just was doing its job.
"This week I've made like three appearances and been wide open. Sometimes you don't have time to think about what you've done. It's not just four-in-a-row, it's the Brickyard and everything you've done. I think we're all very proud of the string. It goes all the way around the Hendrick Motorsports complex ... the chassis shop, the engine shop, the whole bit. When you're traveling to the race track you get caught up in your job and you don't really think about it. You don't really have time to think about what you've done. I'm just eaten up in the stuff you have to do. You don't even really have time to enjoy it. It's at the end of the year, in the off-season, when you can look back and say 'we've really done something' and savor that and enjoy it. At the end of the season, that's when you have time to reflect and look at the things you've done.
"There are 42 drivers out there who are working just as hard to make sure you don't win. It might be a mistake for them to pay too much attention for what we're doing because we might not be the team to beat here this weekend. When you're on a roll you're the one that everyone is looking at. You're the one everyone is measuring themselves against. If it was me I'd be watching Mark and Jeremy and Dale. If we're leading with about 50 to go I think it'll get pretty exciting if there's someone in position to keep me from winning that race.
"We've been criticized about certain things in the past, about being given things on a silver platter, but when you're out there winning races, it helps take away from some things like that. The way I race and race against people, I think that's earned me some respect, too. Maybe one day, that respect will move up in the grandstand."
DOES THE ATTENTION MAKE HIM FEEL HE'S LOSING CONTROL OF HIS TIME?
"I do have control of my life. Every Monday is mine and Brooke's (wife) day. We get away totally from racing and do something else besides racing, go to a movie or out on the boat or out to dinner or whatever. The best thing I've done in a long time is that Brooke took me to Bermuda on my birthday -- after I won the Brickyard -- and that energized me, and calmed me down. That would've been an awesome trip whether I had knocked the wall down at Indianapolis or was just looking to get calmed down and appreciate and celebrate.
"It's important to take a day in the week to yourself and relax and do things to yourself and get re-energized, especially with all the requests we're getting."
HOW DIFFICULT WILL IT BE TO CONTINUE THE STREAK AT BRISTOL?
"It is a fine line here of being patient and aggressive. If you're not past the halfway point (of the race), you have to be patient and not over-abuse your equipment. We're just coming here to race Bristol. We're not worried about where we're at, whether it's five-in-a-row at Bristol or whatever. Once we're through here, it is very important to be very straight-lined and be focused on that car and what's going on, not just Bristol. The pressure to me is just that a lot of people are talking about it (streak). That's insignificant to me, compared to the championship. Just coming out of here with a top-five would be okay with me, even a top-10. This place here can turn on you real quick. If we come up to five, 10 laps to go and got a chance to win it, then, that might be another thing."
MOVING ON FROM BRISTOL
"We got our butts kicked at Loudon (N.H.) last time (July) by (Jeff) Burton. We're bringing a new combination when we go back (Aug. 30). We finished third, but third's not good enough for us."
Source: NASCAR Online