Jeff Gordon confident at Pocono, unsure of the Chase

Team Chevy Racing

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Pocono Raceway and discussed the new pavement at Pocono, the high speeds at Michigan, Kurt Busch’s suspension and other topics.

Jeff Gordon, Hendricks Motorsports Chevrolet
Jeff Gordon, Hendricks Motorsports Chevrolet

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

ACCORDING TO STATISTICS IN PERCENTAGE OF LAPS LED THIS YEAR THERE ARE ONLY TWO DRIVERS WHO HAVE LED A HIGHER PERCENTAGE THAN YOU. YET YOU FIND YOURSELF WHERE YOU ARE IN THE STANDINGS. HOW DO YOU MAKE SENSE OF THAT? “It’s just circumstances and things that have gotten us in this situation and not get the results that relate to the way we have performed this year. I mean that’s racing. That happens, it’s unfortunate the things that have happened to us this year. All we can do is look at the positives, just like last week, the confidence that I have in my race team, my race car, my driving right now is really high because we are putting great race cars out there. We came here to this test here in Pocono the last couple of days and it’s been going well here also. That is what is going to get us through it. That’s what is going to get us into victory lane. We have to learn from our mistakes. All of us have made them including myself. We just have to eliminate those mistakes and start producing. Start putting the results out there that we know we are capable of. Unfortunately, at this point in the season those results are pretty much going to need to be wins.”

HOW CONFIDENT ARE YOU GUYS THAT YOU CAN MAKE THE CHASE? “I am very confident in how fast our race cars are. If I was really confident in us making the Chase then we wouldn’t be 22nd or wherever we are in points. I’m confident that we’ve got tracks coming up on the schedule that we can win at. If we can get those wins, we will make it.”

CAN YOU TAKE ANY CONFIDENCE FROM YOUR PAST TRACK RECORD HERE AT POCONO INTO THIS WEEKEND? “Things have changed a lot with the repave. Essentially it’s the same old Pocono but quite a bit different. I felt really confident in the way our car drove yesterday in the test in the final laps that we made not just our qualifying run but we made a little bit of a longer run and the car was really heading in the right direction. I think that while the track is smooth and has a lot of grip and is a lot faster; it still has Pocono characteristics which I’m really glad, because I love this track. I wouldn’t put this one at the top of the list of tracks I thought we could win at that are coming up, but it might surprise us.”

OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS YOU HAVE DEVELOPED A GOOD RELATIONSHIP WITH THE MATTIOLI FAMILY HOW WILL THIS RACE BE DIFFERENT BEING AS THIS IS THE FIRST TIME IN DECADES THAT DOC WON’T BE HERE? “It’s definitely going to be different. I built a great relationship with Doc over the years. Most of it was walking across that stage at driver introductions. He and Rose just always being present, the first ones you always came across to greet. He was just always kind to me. He kind of had an ongoing joke with me that he would say to me every time I walked across that stage. So this weekend it’s going to be a lot different not hearing those words coming from him.”

HOW DIFFERENT IS 400 MILES GOING TO BE RATHER THAN THE TRADITIONAL 500 MILE RACE HERE? “It’s going to be nice to be less than 500 miles. Especially this weekend because the RPM that we are turning the amount of shifting that we are doing, the pace that we are running it would be hard to pull 500 miles out of it this weekend at that kind of speed. I think 400 miles is going to make for a little bit more entertaining race as well as hopefully more of us to the finish.”

NEXT WEEK WE GO TO MICHIGAN WHICH IS ALSO REPAVED. AT THE TIRE TEST THE SPEEDS WERE OVER 216 MPH, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS GOING INTO NEXT WEEKEND’S RACE AT MICHIGAN? “We saw like 214 MPH here yesterday. We are already with the track like this seeing some pretty high speeds and yeah we are going to see more of that next weekend at Michigan. It’s a very fast track. I did the tire test there, but it was a very comfortable feeling pace. The cars drove really good they stuck to the race track good. I like the tire that Goodyear brought there. Just like here we just need the groove to widen out a little bit. That is only going to come with laps.”

IF SPEEDS GET TOO HIGH DO YOU EXPECT NASCAR TO STEP IN AND DO SOMETHING? “No, I don’t. We are slowing down through the corners so it’s not like we are doing that through the corners we are not slowing down a lot, but we are slowing down a bit for the corners. I can’t imagine what they can do. Especially at this point, if they were going to do anything. I would think they would do it based on what they saw at the original test.”

JIMMIE (JOHNSON) HAS RATTLED OFF A COUPLE OF WINS; KASEY (KAHNE) NOW HAS A WIN. DO YOU FEEL LIKE HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AS A WHOLE HAS THE MOMENTUM RIGHT NOW OR IS IT ISOLATED TO THOSE TWO TEAMS? “I think we’ve really gotten our act together. We didn’t start the season on top of our game, but in great fashion for Hendrick Motorsports everybody has been working really hard since the start of the season to try to find a little bit more speed and grip in the cars. Over the last month, month and a half we have done that. It is showing with all the cars. You just hope that you can maintain that or continue to improve on that as the season goes on to stay ahead of the competition. This sport is so competitive. Not everything works at every track. The last couple of races we have been to two or three races we’ve been to there is no doubt our equipment is really good right now.”

NOT ONLY HAS THE TRACK BEEN REPAVED, BUT THEY REDID PIT ROAD DOES THAT CHANGE ANYTHING FOR YOU AS A DRIVER? “It’s a nice wide pit road. They moved that one guard rail back. It’s more the standards we are used to now at other tracks where the pit stalls are concrete. We won’t really know until we’ve run a race of how that factors in. It looks nice. I think they did a great job here with the repave. The track feels really good. I haven’t heard a single complaint.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT KURT BUSCH’S SUSPENSION? “I was a little bit surprised. I know what Kurt was saying was out of line. You never know what is going to constitute sitting at home for the weekend. Obviously a lot of these things are happening you have to regulate certain areas of the sport. You would think he had gotten enough wake up calls, but certain things continue. The one thing I will say is that I really support Bob Pockrass in this situation. I don’t think Bob asked anything out of line. I don’t think he provoked anything. I think he was just following up on some things that Kurt really was leading to. I think Bob is one of the premier writers, investigative reporters in the garage area. I think nobody works harder than this guy. The job of the media is to create entertainment for people to watch and read. We as competitors have to understand that side of it. If you don’t like his question don’t answer it. It doesn’t mean that you have to go to the level that Kurt went to in how he responded to him.”

WITH THE AMOUNT OF TALENT THAT KURT (BUSCH) HAS, DO YOU FEEL THAT HE WILL ALWAYS HAVE A RIDE IN THE GARAGE NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS OR DO YOU THINK HE IS IN DANGER WITH EVERYTHING THAT HE HAS DONE OF WEARING OUT HIS WELCOME? “He does have a tremendous amount of talent. That is the unfortunate side of it. I think he could have such a bright future in this sport. I think that you continue to hope that a guy learns his lesson and a guy can pull it together. I’m sure in his mind this is a minor incident and didn’t justify what happened but eventually you have to start straightening up your act and utilizing your talent on the race track to earn the respect. This unfortunately is a step backwards for him. I definitely think that the amount of talent he has, if he can control his emotions, he can be at the top of the sport like he was at one time.”

AFTER YOU WON HERE LAST YEAR THINGS GOT A LITTLE REFLECTIVE IN THE MEDIA CENTER. YOU TALKED A LOT ABOUT HOW IT WAS MOMENTS LIKE THAT, THAT GOT YOU THROUGH VALLEYS IN YOUR CAREER. NOW THAT YOU ARE GOING THROUGH WHAT YOU ARE GOING THROUGH NOW DO YOU LOOK BACK AT TIMES LIKE THAT LAST YEAR? DOES THAT HELP YOU GET THROUGH THIS? “Absolutely, it’s having race cars that are leading laps. It’s having those memories of those wins. The last win that you have is always the one that carries you to the next one that you hope that you can get there. You never know when that next one may or may not come. But when you have experienced victory as much as I have you know that is such a sweet feeling. It’s a great accomplishment and as it’s gotten less and less over the years it means even that much more. As you realize just how hard it really is to accomplish. Then you throw in a year like we are having this year and when that win comes for us it’s going to be even that much more just because of what we have been through.”

DO YOU THINK ABOUT WHEN IS THE NEXT ONE GOING TO COME; IS THE NEXT ONE GOING TO COME? IS THAT ON YOUR MIND WHEN YOU GO THROUGH A SEASON LIKE THIS? “Yes and no, there were certainly moments last Sunday that I was thinking we had a shot of winning that race and we had what it took. At that moment you put aside the bad things that have happened and you just say okay, start over, here we are, we’ve got a car that can do it. Let’s do our job. You just focus on doing your job. At the end of the day when it’s a heart breaker like that your bummed out for a few days and then you just go back to work on focusing on the next race.”

YOU SEEM LIKE YOU ARE EVEN-KEELED THROUGH GOOD TIMES AND BAD TIMES… “I am. That is good and bad. I don’t think that I enjoy the high moments as much as maybe I could as well. Yet, I don’t think I let the low moments get to me as much either. It’s good and it’s bad. It is just my personality; it’s just the way I am.”

AJ (ALLMENDINGER) HAS HAD SOME BAD LUCK AS WELL AS YOU GUYS THIS YEAR. HE MENTIONED A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO THAT HE MIGHT HAVE TO SACRIFICE A GOAT OR SOMETHING TO GAIN SOME LUCK. DO YOU GUYS FEEL THAT WAY? “If it was luck based I would say yes. I feel like other than the flat tires at Darlington, I feel like most of what’s happened to us this year has been attributed to things that you can pin point to what caused it. I always like to say that you have to be accountable for your actions. I make mistakes, other people make mistakes. We have had engine failures this year, we have had a loose wheel like last week, we have had a wreck like at Martinsville or at Bristol. I can contribute to each one of those results. Now what you do different that is the whole thing. In a lot of those cases I don’t think there is a lot of things that we could do different. The ones that we can we learn from we try to change them. That’s the crazy thing about this year. We’ve not really had the same thing happen to us twice. We are learning from our mistakes we’ve just got to make sure we don’t make new ones.”

WHAT MADE IT DIFFICULT TO PASS LAST YEAR AT KENTUCKY? “It’s the same thing that makes it difficult to pass any race weekend. Usually it’s more of a one groove race track. That track is very challenging. There are pretty severe bumps getting into turn three so it’s hard to run side-by-side you get really loose underneath somebody. The pace is pretty fast. You carry good speed through the corners there. It’s just hard to get an edge on the competition. It’s a fast track so aerodynamics plays a role in creating a second groove.”

HOW MUCH DID YOU HEAR FROM YOUR FANS (ON TWITTER, ETC.) LAST YEAR ABOUT THE TRAFFIC SITUATION AND NOT BEING ABLE TO GET IN AT KENTUCKY? “A lot, a lot, it certainly dominated the conversation on Twitter. It wasn’t just mine it was several people. They should have they were put in a bad situation and I think Bruton (Smith) and that group have a lot of pressure on them this year to make sure that doesn’t happen again. I feel confident that they are going to make some huge strides. I don’t know if you can just fix everything all at once. I think it is going to be a much better experience for all of the fans. Once they get that figured out then they will be able to repave the race track and make it a better experience for us competitors.”

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About this article
Series NASCAR SPRINT CUP
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Kurt Busch
Teams Hendrick Motorsports
Tags chevrolet, gordon, hendrick, long pond