Jeff Gordon - Friday media visit

Texas

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

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET met with members of the media at Texas Motor Speedway and discussed challenges of the Texas schedule, racing at Talladega and other topics.

WHAT DO YOU THINK WHEN YOU COME BACK TO TEXAS AFTER LAST YEAR?: “I put it behind us really. We certainly want to put more focus on the good run that we had earlier last year. Felt like we had a car that could win. We want to try to recreate that again this time. It’s going to be warm and its going to be slick this weekend. Certainly challenging as it always is here at Texas. I’m not focused on anything other than just this team -- our DuPont Chevrolet and getting the car tuned into the track conditions as best we can. A Saturday night race will be a little different.”

HOW HAS THE DIFFERENT SCHEDULE AFFECTED YOU?: “It’s caught us off guard for sure. We made a little bit of a mistake and focused too much on the race setup yesterday and didn’t make a qualifying run and it hurt us today because we couldn’t get the lap in to get our draw or running order position for qualifying. We won’t really know until we get through the race on the rest of it because we’ve not been on the track in the same conditions that we’re going to be racing. I think that’s always tricky for the night races. We rarely ever get to be on the track in the same or similar conditions. That makes it a guessing game for everybody.”

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE POSITION DALE EARNHARDT JR. IS IN RIGHT NOW?: “I feel like all the changes that Rick (Hendrick, team owner) made over the off season have been really good ones. It’s great to see those guys be in contention for a win. Martinsville is a tough place so I’m proud of Dale (Earnhardt Jr.) and Steve (Letarte, crew chief) and that whole group. They’re a great team. I think that any time you can build on positives, it’s a good thing. I feel the same for us. To get the win at Phoenix was something very positive. I feel like we’ve got a great group. I feel like to even think about Mark (Martin) and his group this weekend -- he’s been really, really fast so I look for some great things out of them as well. It doesn’t look like the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) has really skipped a beat so that’s all been good for our organization.”

DO YOU THINK THE PROCESS OF FEELING OUT THE NEW TEAM IS OVER?: “Oh no, never over with. You’re always learning, you’re always trying to get better and each track has its own challenges. It doesn’t matter what you did last week, it’s what you do this week.”

WOULD YOU RATHER BE LUCKY OR HAVE HORSEPOWER AT TALLADEGA?: “Horsepower I don’t think has anything to do with it. But I don’t think luck has anything to do with it either. I think that Talladega is a much wider race track, there’s a lot more racing lines and grooves and room to race on. We should be able to do the two-car drafts a lot easier than we did at Daytona. Hopefully we’re not hooking and spinning one another like we were in Daytona. I think that there’s no doubt that it will come down to two-car drafts, but it’s more of two cars that can stay hooked up together and not have to put air to the nose to the car in back -- the ones that can do the best job of that and the switch over -- those are the ones that are going to go fast. Not horsepower.”

WOULD YOU RATHER BE THE PUSHER OR THE LEADER?: “I kind of like to be the guy seeing where I’m going. To me, it just seemed like in Daytona there were some cars that were better at or just had their cooling systems working better than others and I think at Talladega the car is going to drive so good that I don’t think it’s really going to matter. It’s really going to be more about the spotters and getting the spotters in sync and trying to communicate well with what’s coming up. That’s going to be intense in the final laps. It’s about being there at the end and then just how intense it’s going to be and hopefully you make good decisions.”

DO YOU PREFER DAYTONA OR TALLADEGA AND WHY?: “I like them both. The older Daytona, you went there knowing you were going to slip and slide around and the car had to handle well and the tires were going to wear out. Now you don’t have to worry about that. If we’re going to be doing two-car drafts, I would rather be doing it at Talladega than at Daytona. There’s just more room. In this scenario, you want more room.”

I think that there’s no doubt that it will come down to two-car drafts...

Jeff Gordon

WILL YOUR CAR CHANGE A LOT IN TOMORROW’S RACE?: “With as hot as its going to be this weekend, it’s supposed to be tomorrow -- yeah. We’ve not been on the track under the conditions that we’re going to race in. I think that it’s going to change quite a bit.”

WILL YOU HAVE TO ADJUST YOUR CAR A LOT TOMORROW?: “Yes, you just have to completely throw the dice at the setup and hope that you get it close. That’s kind of the box that we’re in when we don’t get to be on the track at the time of day that we’re going to be racing. It’s more of a guessing game. I still think the cars that are strong during the day are going to be strong at night. You just want to maybe have a few more adjustable components in the car to be able to change in case the conditions are much more different than you think they are.”

HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO LEARN THE TIMING LINE SYSTEM ON PIT ROAD?: “We’re constantly pushing the limits and a lot of us have adapted to these new tachometers that allow you to just break it down to the thousandth of a second. Anytime you’re pushing those limits like that, it’s easier to go over. I think it’s pretty clear how NASCAR monitors it. I’ve been up into their tower to watch and to them it’s just a screen that has red or green. For us, we’re just trying to get every edge that we possibly can on pit road and sometimes you go over the limit and it comes up red.”

WHO DO YOU THINK THE BEST CLOSER IS IN THE CUP SERIES RIGHT NOW?: “Well right now I guess it’s (Kevin) Harvick. He’s had two back-to-back weeks of pulling off wins with late lap or late race passes. I guess right now you would have to say him.”

IS THERE A DRIVER YOU DON’T WANT IN YOUR REARVIEW MIRROR IN THE CLOSING LAPS OF A RACE?: “I think Kyle Busch is a very aggressive driver that seems to really be able to find something extra in the car whether it’s on a restart or whether it’s in the closing laps. To me, it always comes down to just a guy that’s got a car that is better than yours at that moment in the race. I go back to Phoenix for us, my car was really strong in the closing laps of that race. Made me look like a hero, like we closed out that race, but we were just better than the competition at that point. I think the same thing with (Kevin) Harvick at California and at Martinsville. It could be anybody -- that could be anybody any weekend.”

WHAT WORD OR PHRASE COMES TO MIND AT TALLADEGA?: “To me, it’s just survival.”

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

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

CAN YOU GUESS ON HOW THE RACE SETUP WITH BE IN YOUR CAR ON RACE DAY?: ‘It happens more than you think. When I say yes, we’ve got some basics that are set in stone, but it’s the fine tuning adjustments that you’re going to have to guess on a little bit. The grip level of the race track will increase so your travels can change a little bit. Which way the balance of the race car is going to go, whether it’s going to get freer or get tighter as the track gets cooler -- those are things that you guess. We do that pretty much every weekend when it comes to fine tuning and trying to pick the right direction that we think it’s going to go. It’s just a lot more drastic when the conditions are this much different than what they were in practice.”

DO YOU SEE ANY DIFFERENCE IN BRIAN VICKERS THIS YEAR?: “I’ve been so busy with my family and racing and I can’t say that we’ve hung out a whole lot away from the race track this year. I know when he was going through it, I feel like he maximized the opportunity of appreciating his family and his friends, his health, as well as having some down time to go experience things that we don’t get the opportunity to when we are racing. I can’t answer how that’s changed this year -- his affect on racing. I’m sure he’s enjoying being here and very appreciative of being behind the wheel of that race car this year and not have that luxury that did come along with the issues that he had and being able to travel and do things and see friends and see family -- that was a nice perk of it, but I think he would much rather be where he is.”

IS THERE A DRIVER YOU WISH YOU COULD DRIVE AGAINST?: “I only got to drive against Richard (Petty) once in his final race, but would have loved to have raced against Richard and (David) Pearson and (Cale) Yarborough -- there are so many greats that I didn’t get the opportunity to race against. That would have been awesome.”

HOW BIG OF A DIFFERENCE IS BEING GOOD AT RESTARTS?: “Sometimes you just have a short run car. Or your car can be really good on the restarts and you can make up a lot of spots. Sometimes it’s just whether you’re in the inside lane or the outside lane. Sometimes that can make a big difference. Then there’s guys that are just really good at timing the restarts and getting up through the gears and getting the car up to speed fast with the momentum. I think if you had to put it in the drivers hands of which driver you think is going to come out on top more often -- it’s just one that’s super aggressive that is willing to take the risk of putting the car at jeopardy and putting himself in an awkward position that could get them in trouble, but also could win them the race.”

IS THAT WHY KYLE BUSCH IS SO GOOD AT RESTARTS?: “Yeah.”

DOE THE NEW POINT SYSTEM EMPHASIZE WINS AND RUNNING UP FRONT?: “I don’t know how you can emphasize wins anymore than we already do. We already push so hard to win. It’s been an exciting season. The points system is something we are still all trying to grasp on to. I still think the teams that were winning under the old points system are still going to be winning under the new points system. I don’t know if it’s changed things drastically so far. I don’t know if we want it to change -- things are good right now.”

-source: team chevy

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags chevrolet, cup, jeff gordon, sprint, texas