JEFF GORDON No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet IS THIS A TRACK A LOT OF FUN FOR DRIVERS? I think everybody is a big fan, not only of the town but also of the race track. You know, it just seems to be a popular venue for obvious reasons. But at the...
No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet
IS THIS A TRACK A LOT OF FUN FOR DRIVERS?
I think everybody is a big fan, not only of the town but also of the race track. You know, it just seems to be a popular venue for obvious reasons. But at the race track, I think they did a great job of designing it so we put on a good race here. I think that this is a destination for a lot of people to vacation and come and have fun. I think having a NEXTEL Cup race here is a perfect match. For the competitors, you don't see every single team testing here in the off season for no reason.
SOMEONE ELSE SAID THEY MIGHT HAVE FOUND A COMMON THREAD IN THE ENGINE PROBLEM FROM LAST WEEKEND. ARE YOU CONFIDENT?
Yeah, I think we're real confident. I feel like we know where the issue was. We did a lot of testing on the dyno and stuff, here in this past week and a half. I was in the engine shop before I went on vacation and I know that they feel confident and I feel confident that we've got it figured out. Jimmie's motor would have only gone maybe one more lap if that. So, we've had a better way to diagnose what was going on there because it didn't tear up all the parts and pieces. But, yeah, I feel good.
WHAT WAS THE PROBLEM AT FONTANA?
Well, I don't want to give all the technical terms because I'll mess it up. But from what I've heard it was a retainer. It was a part that we had tested, maybe not quite under the same RPM range because of the new gear rule. You know, we may have gotten ourselves caught with that a little bit. But, you know, we're back to a proven product that we ran last year and we should be fine.
HOW CONFIDENT ARE YOU FOR THIS WEEKEND?
You know, I feel that we've got the best engine department there is out here. They guys work so hard that when we do find a problem, we diagnose it and fix it. I feel like we're going to be in good shape engine-wise this weekend. I just approach it just like any other engine, it's not an issue--it's just about making sure we get the power out of it and making the car work well.
IS IT ALMOST BETTER THAT A PROBLEM LIKE THAT WOULD MAKE ITSELF EVIDENT EARLY IN THE YEAR RATHER THAN LATER?
Oh, definitely. Every race is crucial, I feel like. But I'd much rather have it happen early in the season or in the first 26 races than in those last 10.
HOW DO YOU FEEL IT AFFECTED YOUR MOMENTUM AFTER COMING OUT OF DAYTONA WITH A VICTORY?
I feel like we had a great run going at Fontana. We started deep in the field and worked our way up there. We got ourselves into second, pit stops were really coming on strong there. So, we're still carrying momentum. We had a good run even though we didn't finish it out.
YOU'RE ONE OF ONLY TWO NON-ROUSCH GUYS TO HAVE WON AT THIS TRACK, ARE YOU SURPRISED AT ALL OR DO YOU EXPECT THAT OUT OF A TEAM LIKE THAT?
Well, they're good. They're going to be good this time around as well. They showed how strong they are at Fontana. I think they're going to show again this weekend. When it comes to a 36-race schedule or a 26-race schedule if you kind of want to look at it that way, you've got to look at the ones you're best at and do your best to make up ground in the ones you're not. And those guys are good here, we know they are the cars to beat and it's our job to catch them or beat them. And then we need to take advantage of the tracks where we feel are our best: Atlanta, Texas, tracks like that.
THERE IS A LOT OF TALK ABOUT MAYBE NASCAR GOING TO CANADA, POSSIBLY MONTREAL. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THAT AND DO YOU KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THE CIRCUIT AT MONTREAL?
I'm a big fan of Formula 1, so I know the course, certainly from television and that's about it. You know, I'd love to see us in Canada. I think that staying in North America is extremely important. Canada to me seems like the next natural place for us to go. Obviously, Mexico went well for the Busch cars--that might be a good option as well. But I want to see us on an oval. I don't want to see us on a road course in Canada. I think we can put on such a better show for the fans, and I know there are a lot of fans in Canada who follow NASCAR. I wish we had an oval track up there. If we're going to go there, we need to start that process.
No. 01 U.S. ARMY Chevrolet
HOW DID PRACTICE GO FOR YOU TODAY?
Not bad. It's a brand new car we have out here. It's very similar to the car we had at California a couple of weeks ago. We're just working on it, trying to make it better. It's responding to all the changes and it's doing everything right. It's pretty quick. So, we just need a good, smooth qualifying lap and we'll be in good shape.
SHOULD WE EXPECT MORE ACTION AT THIS TRACK?
I would have thought you'd have seen more action at California. But, you know, we've got a little bit different tire here. It seems to fall off a lot quicker than it did at California. It'll be interesting.