Jeff Gordon discussed the hot conditions at Kentucky with the media

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Gordon also talked about what speed would be needed for the pole at Kentucky and a range of other topics

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Kentucky Speedway and discussed the hot weather conditions, his thoughts on Matt Kenseth leaving Roush Racing and other topics.

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

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

HOW WAS YOUR CAR IN PRACTICE? “It was good. It was hot and slick and really hard to predict what qualifying is going to be like and what the race is going to be like. So I thought we did a good job of making the best of it, and making our car better as the day went on.”

WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO DIFFERENTLY FOR THE RACE THAN YOU DID IN PRACTICE WITH THE HEAT? “I think it is going to be hot no matter what. It might cool down slightly but it’s going to be hot and it’s going to be slick. So we have been to places like this before where the track changes a lot when it cools down at night but here it was 90 degrees last night at 9:30. I think it is going to change things slightly but not as drastically as what you would think.”

WHAT IN PARTICULAR WERE YOU GUYS WORKING ON TODAY IN PRACTICE? “Going fast. (laughs) No we started the first practice in qualifying trim because that is the practice that determines the qualifying order. We weren’t as good as we wanted to be so we switched over to race trim in the second practice. And the car is actually good in race trim. So we switched back over to qualifying trim to make one other run and I felt like we made some gains.”

IS 175 KIND OF THE AVERAGE SPEED YOU THINK YOU ARE GOING TO NEED TO GET THE POLE? “Oh no, it’s going to take more than that definitely. I mean Kyle ran a 177 the first practice so I thought that was a pretty good lap and I would think it’s going to be more like that or faster.”

HOW MUCH PRESSURE ARE YOU ON TO WIN AND DOES IT CHANGE YOUR APPROACH? “We don’t change how we approach each race. We just go into it trying to win and to be the best that we can be. We want to get in the Chase bad and we know we have to win races to do it. I think it might just change your mind set when you get into the race and you have to make a risky call. But other than that it’s just business as usual trying to put the fastest race car on the track and go out there and prepare yourselves to win races. And that is no different than what we have been doing all year long and I really don’t look at right now where we are in points or whether we have won or not. It’s just like last week, I get in the car, I start the race and all I am thinking about is that lap and putting the corners together. It is frustrating when things continue to happen to us, but when you are in the race you are thinking about what you have to do to win the race.”

HOW DOES THIS 1.5 MILE TRACK COMPARE TO OTHERS. SOME HAVE SAID IT’S BUMPY IN PLACES “Well, I mean the surface is challenging. You know, they have ground it a lot…..for the bumps I guess. And yet the bumps are still there and they are very significant. There is not a lot of grip so I am not sure if Goodyear has to make a more durable tire because of the grinding. But normally a track like this that is ground like that you would expect more grip but it just doesn’t have much grip. So today was one of the most challenging days I have had in a race car. Just being on the edge of being out of control on every single lap, especially over in turn three where there is a big bump. You are under heavy braking there and the car is very light there. We are already sweating because it’s hot but we were sweating some more just because you have your hands full.”

INAUDIBLE QUESTION “I think we learned our lesson in Pocono that were weren’t aggressive enough on the pit strategy, so we definitely think we need to take more risks. But then again, last week shows what can happen when you push it just a little bit and we ran out of fuel. So to win races you have to have fast race cars, fast pit stops, and make smart calls and hope things go your way.

“There is no doubt in my mind that this race team has what it takes to win races and we have some great race tracks coming up to do that. This is not one that would be high on my list just because I was very challenged at this track last year and even today went so-so, but it could happen here just as easily as it could happen anywhere else. But when we leave here, there are several tracks.”

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT MATT KENSETH LEAVING ROUSH AND WERE YOU SURPRISED TO HEAR THAT? “Well, I wasn’t just based on that note that they were having trouble getting sponsorship. So I think that is something I haven’t heard a whole lot about and did that deal make that decision for them. So he knew that and Stenhouse is kind of coming along and was he going to have himself in a bad situation and so he went and looked to see what was out there. Sounds to me that Matt was really smart about how he went about it because let’s face it, as a car owner you fight for that guy and you do all you can but at the end of the day if you don’t have a sponsor for them and you do for another driver or you just have to close the doors for that team. That is what a car owner is going to do, you know. And so the drivers are usually the last ones to know so it sounds like Matt was proactive and went out and made sure he has a secure position and with a good team, move forward.”

TONY EURY JR SAID AFTER THE ELKHART LAKE RACE THAT HE WAS KIND OF CHALLENGING DANICA PATRICK TO RACE MORE AGGRESSIVELY. SAYING THAT SHE IS BEING PUT IN A BAD POSITION BECAUSE SHE IS A WOMAN. DO YOU THINK BECAUSE OF HER POPULARITY THAT THE DRIVERS ON THE NATIONWIDE SIDE ARE RACING HER A LITTLE BIT DIFFERENTLY? “I don’t think it has so much to do with the fact that she is a female as it does that she is a rookie. And that is what happens to rookies. Rookies get tested, and you know, if they are with a team that is capable of running up front and maybe make a move to take the lead then you are going to put more pressure on them because usually rookies make more mistakes than veterans. So when you put that kind of pressure on somebody that has less experience, it would be more of that than it is that she is female.”

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT GOING TO DAYTONA NEXT WEEK AND NOT HAVING TANDEM RACING? “Well, we don’t know what kind of racing we are going to have at Daytona. Based on February and one thing I think, based on Talladega, you know, given the challenges we had with tandem racing we now have equal or greater challenges. We are trying to heat and cool the engines, and the ERV valve….we are trying to keep it from popping off so you just know it’s going to be a challenging race and it’s going to be exciting at the end but you have to be there. And that is what we are going to be working hard on is to be there when it counts at the end.”

WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE SOME CHANGES TO THE RESTRICTOR PLATE RACES? “Oh, don’t get me started on that (laughs). I have no idea where to begin and I know that tandem races are not something that I enjoy but watching your gauges to not overheat more than what I am watching what is going on in front of me is not what we should be doing either so it’s a challenging position because we are kind of strapped based on the body of what we have there. That car just punches such a big hole and that is what is created and the bumpers don’t line up. So that is what has got us into the box we are in and I don’t know if there is any real fix to get us out of it soon.”

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT GOING TO LOUDON IN A COUPLE WEEKS? “Love Loudon, can’t wait to get there to a track that has been very good for us. I feel like Alan and our engineers do an excellent job on flat race tracks, especially tracks like Loudon. Can’t wait to get there and I think that is a track high on my list of tracks that I feel like we could capitalize on.”

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT FREE AGENTS AND DEALING WITH THAT PART OF YOUR CAREER AND DREADING IT. YOU HAVENT REALLY HAD TO DEAL WITH THAT HAVE YOU? “We had challenges getting sponsorships you know. We were fortunate that AARP Drive to End Hunger stepped up to the plate but I will be honest, when DuPont said they were going to step back a little bit and said ‘this is our new budget’ and we had to go out searching and I mean it was not an easy sell and it makes you question where you are at in your career and I had never had to do that in the past. Usually the sponsors were signing up early, but it’s also the economy and where the sport is at now today so it’s scary, and its concerning and you know when you are a guy like Matt or myself who has been around a long time and you don’t feel like stepping out of the driver’s seat then you are wondering sometimes where that next sponsor, paycheck or team is going to be coming from.”

DO YOU HAVE A CAR THAT CAN WIN THIS WEEKEND AND WHAT WILL IT TAKE? “We need to qualify up front. We need a top-10 qualifying effort and I am optimistic based on that last run we had in practice but I think that it was very encouraging on our race runs that we had a car that was very fast and stayed good over a long run. So I absolutely have a car that can win.”

WITH BRICKYARD COMING UP, SOME FOLKS SAY THEY LIKE THAT RACE BETTER THAN THE DAYTONA 500 AND HAVE IT RANKED FIRST OVER THAT, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS? “Well, anybody that grew up in Indiana and went to the Indianapolis 500 as many times as I did as a kid, the Brickyard kind of outweighs it on a personal standpoint.”

HOW DOES THE TRACK FEEL TODAY JEFF? “Very slick. Its laying a lot of rubber down, and it’s very hot and very slick, very rough. And I tell you it’s been a challenging day and tomorrow night is going to be a very challenging race.”

Source: Team Chevy Racing

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Article type Interview
Tags chevrolet, gordon, hendrick