JEFF GORDON, DRIVER OF THE NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and discussed racing at Indy, what Mark Martin brings to the sport, his reaction to Tony Stewart running the No. 14 next year and ...
JEFF GORDON, DRIVER OF THE NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and discussed racing at Indy, what Mark Martin brings to the sport, his reaction to Tony Stewart running the No. 14 next year and more.
Q. Question regarding winning here being a fluke.
JEFF GORDON: No, I definitely feel like if you look in the past at what teams have come out of here on top, they've been teams that are great teams, possibly the best teams, you know, that year. So I definitely don't think that we've seen it be a fluke.
I think it's hard to predict what's going to happen with this race, with this car, this track, the way races have been run here recently, you know. We're always constantly pushing the limits and finding out what's working and learning from strategies. So, you know, I think anything's possible. Anybody could win this race this weekend.
Q. Some say we're in for a boring race.
JEFF GORDON: This is one of the most challenging racetracks we come to. It's never boring. It's always fun and exciting from inside the car.
You know, I think that this could turn out to be a really exciting race from a strategy standpoint. You know, I don't know if we're gonna see maybe as much side-by-side racing or passing that maybe some people would like to see. But I think as far as excitement and a great race and an exciting finish, I still think you're going to see that.
Q. Question about Mark Martin.
JEFF GORDON: Obviously he brings a lot of experience. He's been in this sport for a very long time. I think he's a tremendously talented racecar driver. I like the attitude and the confidence, you know, that he brings. You know, I mean, I think he brings a lot of things really.
I think that team, they need to get built back up. They've had a rough year. And I think a guy like Mark coming in that has confidence in what he's doing, has confidence in the team, you know, has that fresh start. We've seen what he's done not just when he was at Roush, but now that he's stepped away from that, everywhere he's gone he's been competitive. I think that's only helped Mark to be able to come and help us.
Q. On what it means to race at Indy.
JEFF GORDON: I think it's just, you know, the thought of memories that I had as a kid watching Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Indy 500, you know, the legends that raced
here, and that I get to race at that track, you know, that those greats competed on, that I watched on TV as a kid. You know, just ever since the first year that we came here, having that win under our belt just gets me excited about coming back here each and every year.
It doesn't seem to matter what kind of year we're having, I just always feel like we can come here and be competitive.
Q. How much closer are you to getting your first win?
JEFF GORDON: I think we're getting closer. How close are we? I don't know. I mean, you can win races at any time. But as far as being consistently towards the front, I felt like Chicago was a big step forward for us. I felt like we were competitive. We led some laps. You know, we didn't get the finish that I felt like we were capable of. But I still think that we performed better. So that's a plus.
We just keep moving forward in that direction. I think that, you know, those wins could be around the corner.
Q. Question regarding comments made by Richard Petty.
JEFF GORDON: I think that we all need reminders. A lot of times things become very hectic and, you know, you get caught up in competition, you get caught up in a lot of things that become priorities in sport. It's always great to have somebody like Richard Petty stand up there and remind you of that. And I think he was spot on. You know, I think he's absolutely right, you know, that this, especially with the economy, tough times that our country and the economy is having, that we got to really appreciate the fans that are coming out and supporting us and show 'em how much we care about 'em and reach out there to 'em as much as we possibly can.
I think coming from Richard, you know, it certainly always hits home.
Q. On what it would mean to get a fifth win here.
JEFF GORDON: Well, you know, obviously we'd love to have a win. We'd love to get our fifth win here. I've never compared anything that's happened at the Indy 500 or the Formula One race to what we do. I just think that there is no comparison. You know, number one, it's the history of the Indy 500, you know, being here for so many years, totally different type of racecar and race. Same is Formula One - not the history, but the totally different type of car and type of racing.
You see a lot more dominance in Formula One than you do in IndyCar racing as well as even in NASCAR. So the four that I have are very special. I would love to get five, but
not to match stats of other legends that have raced at this track 'cause, you know, I think it's more of this is a challenging racetrack, this is a track I love competing at, and a track that not too many guys have won more than once or more than twice.
Q. On what it takes to win here.
JEFF GORDON: Well, you got to have good balance, you know, on the car. This is a tough track. You have long straightaways. You really have to get down the straightaways. So how you get off turn two, turn four is extremely important. You got to have a car that really gets off the corner pretty neutral. You know, you've got to be able to get into turns one and turns three really good. But you need that power to get you down the straightaways as well.
It's a total team effort, for sure.
Q. Any reaction to Stewart taking the No. 14?
JEFF GORDON: I think that's cool. I think it's very cool. You know, I mean, I think Tony and A.J. have a lot in common. They're racers that they just get into everything and anything and go out there and are competitive and have success at it. We don't see enough of that, you know, these days. It seems like more and more drivers kind of specialize in one area.
You know, Tony and a couple other guys are really, you know, making a mark by doing a lot of different types of racing. I think it's fantastic. And I think just his personality and attitude, all that, I think he can definitely suit that 14 well.
Q. Question about winning five races at Indianapolis.
JEFF GORDON: It wouldn't be the first because Michael Schumacher has won five. You know, I guess I just sort of isolate it to NASCAR and what's happened in the history of our race here at this track, just knowing that we're the only three-time and four-time winner. To stretch it to five would be unbelievable. But I'm not really looking at trying to set a number right now as much as I am just wanting to win. I just want to win. You know, we've had an up-and-down season. We haven't obviously won yet this year. You know, I think I'd rather keep this streak alive that we have that we've won every year since 1994 than any other number.
Q. On what it means to race here.
JEFF GORDON: There's just something special about it. I think especially for me, going to high school here, I can remember coming here 1980, '81, my quarter midgets were
built in Indiana by the Stanley family. We'd come and visit them, check out what's going on in quarter midget racing. We were always trying to time it around the Indy 500 where I could either, you know, come here to one of the practice days or we would come after the race. We did come to the race, you know, one time, the year Sneva won. I'm not sure if that was '81 or '82, something like that. So I have a lot of memories as a kid.
There's not too many guys that race in NASCAR that came to the Indy 500 as a kid. I mean, maybe Tony, maybe Newman, but not many. So I think that those people that have those memories, you know, and experiences look at this race and this racetrack in a whole different way. And there's no doubt that you get chills coming into this place.
Q. Do you take more chances at the end if you're in a position to win it because we're at the Brickyard?
JEFF GORDON: I think you take chances. Everything is risk versus reward in my opinion in racing, in life. At this track, it's a big event. I think that when you can sense a checkered flag, you know, at the tip of your fingertips, you know, you go for it. You take risks.
But it depends on where you're at in the points. It depends on what your goals for the season are. But I think you go for the win. You try to make a move. But you don't try to take yourself out.
I mean, I can't think of any win or battle I've had where the closing laps I've made a move that I thought could cause a wreck to win the race. I mean, I try to make sure that we get to the finish line in one piece, whether you have to settle for second or get the win.
Q. How often do you think about points?
JEFF GORDON: With the Chase, you know, it's a little bit different now because if we were under the old points system, then all we'd care about is wins right now. We wouldn't care about anything else.
With the Chase, we need the bonus points. You know, Kyle has got a bunch of 'em. Carl has a good amount. We need to win some races and get those bonus points. But we have to make sure we're in the Chase, as well. And being sixth, you know, we can't really make any big mistakes. So right now I don't feel like we can take as big of risks as some guys further ahead of us in points and then the guys 13th, you know, on back.
Q. What is your reaction to Randy Moss entering into NASCAR be?
JEFF GORDON: I met Randy several years ago at an event down in Orlando. You know, he was super cool and seemed to know a lot more about NASCAR than I thought he would. So it's no surprise to me. You know, he's always had an interest in it. He spent a lot of time around North Carolina to understand it.
So no big surprise. Hope it works out well for him.
Q. What does he need to be prepared for to be successful?
JEFF GORDON: You need very deep pockets and you're going to spend a lot of money (laughter).
You know, I mean, racing is not a great business to be in. It's not. You know, it's not a business model that suits going out and making a fortune. There are some teams that do well and, you know, some teams that struggle just to make it by and some that fold.
You know, I guess it's a lot like most businesses. It's tough. I think that, you know, if you're smart about it, you create budgets, try to put the best people within that budget that you possibly can, don't overspend, you know, then I think you can be successful.
Q. On the Pocono race coming up.
JEFF GORDON: I'm trying to think about the first Pocono, what we learned. I wouldn't say it helped. You know, it's kind of one of the craziest things I've ever seen, you know, where you just put a strip of brand-new pavement three grooves up in a corner. I thought that was kind of interesting. Made for an interesting race, for sure. But can't say it necessarily helped anything. It's hard to say. But I think that, you know, Pocono is a very, very challenging racetrack for this car. It's really rough. We don't have a lot of travel to be able to handle big bumps like that. It's fast. It's flat. So, you know, I mean, it's definitely a track that you need good track position.
We didn't qualify good there. I'm hoping we can go back and qualify a lot better.
Q. Question regarding Watkins Glen and altercations on road courses.
JEFF GORDON: Maybe because you have to out-brake guys into the corners, the only way you can really pass. When you do that, you're taking risks, you know, that you can miss a shift, you can wheel hop, you can get into somebody, lock a wheel up, whatever. And so I think a lot of times when we see altercations at the road courses, it's somebody making a bold move and it doesn't work. Could be early in the race, could be late in the race. We saw that at Sonoma, as well. I think it's just part of road racing. Watkins Glen, I love racing at Watkins Glen. It's fast, a track that suits our cars very, very well, as far as road racing is concerned.
- credit: gm racing