JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT/NATIONAL GUARD FACEBOOK CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and discussed outlook for the weekend at NHMS, approach to the Chase, sponsorship, momentum in Chase and other...
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT/NATIONAL GUARD FACEBOOK CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and discussed outlook for the weekend at NHMS, approach to the Chase, sponsorship, momentum in Chase and other topics.
TALK ABOUT YOUR OUTLOOK COMING INTO NEW HAMPSHIRE AS THE EIGHTH SEED IN THE CHASE: "It certainly is always a good thing to start the Chase off right, build some momentum. I guess maybe for us being a little bit further back (in points), I mean 60 points back is certainly not insurmountable but you are going to have to put 10 solid weeks together for sure. That all starts here at New Hampshire."
CAN THERE BE A SLEEPER IN THIS CHASE AND IF THERE COULD BE, WHO DO YOU THINK IT MIGHT BE? "The way I look at is I feel like there are 12 guys that can win it. Anybody can get on a streak. I feel like all of these teams are solid, good teams, good drivers. I don't really see a sleeper. I feel like us, Bowyer, Burton, any of the guys that haven't won races yet to this point I guess, if you were going to consider anybody a sleeper, I would think that the media would think that these guys aren't really going to be the ones to beat. "
WHAT DID LOU HOLTZ SAY TO YOU, WHAT PROFOUND WORDS OF WISDOM DID OR MOTIVATION DID YOU GET FROM HIM YESTERDAY? "Man you lost me already with the profound words (LAUGHS). (SMILES) Probably nothing I can talk about here. We spent some time with him in the green room yesterday. There is no question why he is such a great coach. It seems like all the great football coaches are these incredible motivators that just have a way with words and the way that they think. Him being one of the greatest of all time coaches out there, you could spend hours listening to him and all the things that he had to say. I would kind of like to keep those moments to myself. You saw the rest on ESPN."
HAS THE SPONSORSHIP THING BEEN DISCOURAGING FOR YOU WITH NOT HAVING DUPONT THE WHOLE SEASON AND THE WALMART THING, ARE YOU SURPRISED THAT A DRIVER OF YOUR CALIBER IS EVEN IN THIS POSITION? "I'll be honest, as a driver, it's not something that I put a lot of thought into. I mean, I certainly would like to see us with a sponsor that could be really good for our organization. Good for the sport and good marketing and wants to be a part of our program and get behind it. Right now, my focus is on driving and trying to go out there and be as good as we can be in the Chase. That is pretty much the message that has been sent to me through Rick (Hendrick) is don't worry about it. We have got a lot of people working hard on it and it'll come together. The Walmart thing was a little disappointing because I feel like everybody was wanting to see that company in this sport for a long time and we would have loved to have represented them. But, I'm so excited to be involved with DuPont and Pepsi and sponsors that we have had for a number of years. I think we still have some things that are going to come together."
HOW MUCH HAS CHANGED IN YOUR APPROACH TO DRIVING FROM YOUR FIRST YEAR TO NOW? "Well, I mean, throw out the first year. In '93, I had no clue, I had no confidence or no regiment. I was just being thrown into it and just didn't know what to expect and my head was just spinning off my head trying to keep up with everything I was learning. In '94 things settled down a little bit. For me, I have always approached racing one race at a time. I've never looked too far ahead. I've always tried to be in the moment when I am trying that car. I am trying to focus on what it takes to make the car go as fast as I possibly can right there. I don't think about tomorrow. That is just the way. Now, that is not my personal life. In my personal life, I worried like crazy about what is happening tomorrow, but in racing, I've always just focused one lap, one race at a time. I don't feel like that has changed a whole lot. That first year might have been a little bit different, in '93. I feel like I have stayed pretty consistent with that over the years and it has worked well for us so I try not to change it."
WHEN THEY ANNOUNCED THE INITIAL CHASE IN 2003 AND THEN IT DEBUTED IN 2004, DID YOU THINK OH, THIS IS GREAT. 10 RACES, I CAN WIN THESE THINGS. OR, DID YOU THINK WITH ONLY HAVING 10 RACES IT WAS GOING TO BE TOUGHER TO WIN CHAMPIONSHIPS? "I was not looking forward to that change from the beginning. When I first heard about it and I think maybe Mike Helton was the first one who sort of threw the idea out there to me. And I laughed and I said, 'Ah, that's never going to happen'. Then I think I saw Brian France somewhere down the road and he told me it was going to happen, and I was like, oh my gosh. At that point, I wasn't thinking whether it was good for the sport or not, I was just purely being selfish and thinking how's it going to work for us? And my strong suit is consistency over a lot of tracks. I think the first thing that came into my mind was the 10 tracks that close out the season. They've never been my best tracks. New Hampshire has been pretty good but Phoenix is not a good track for me. Homestead is not necessarily a good track for me. Texas. So we've had to work really, really hard at being better at those 10 tracks. So we've put a lot more effort into it because to me that's really the most important thing now about the season. It's not really anything other than those 10 tracks. You want to go to other tracks and try to run well and try to get the bonus points and win the races but what you really want is to build your program up so in those final 10 races at those 10 tracks you're awesome. So I don't like that it comes down to that but that's the way it is. And it's a real big challenge. I think it's more difficult, certainly for me, I feel like it's more difficult to win it this way than any other way. I like that challenge. That's just the way our sport is going to be from now on. So we have to figure out how to win it under that format."
WITH THIS FORMAT AND WITH THIS GROUP, CAN SOMEBODY LOSE THIS CHASE THIS SUNDAY? "Well, (crew chief) Steve Letarte and I have talked a lot about this. I think he's put it best that you can't win the championship this weekend, but you can certainly lose it. I think all you have to do is self destruct and you'll make some big mistakes and come out of here; what will really hurt you is to have a really bad finish in the first Chase race it's really hard to rebound from that because you still have Martinsville and you still have Talladega and these tracks that chances are good you could get caught up in something. You want to try to get a few races in. You know that you're going to have a bad week. It seems like everybody always does. But you don't want to start it off that way because then that means you have to put nine really good ones together."
NINE YEARS AGO WAS THE LAST TIME YOU WON A CHAMPIONSHIP. WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO YOU TO WIN A FIFTH CHAMPIONSHIP THIS YEAR? "Well, it's not a fifth championship. I know that's what the stats and the records would show but it's really a first championship because with the points change, to me the history is different. I don't compare these championships even if I wanted, to what I won before. It's equally or more prestigious today. That's the part that makes you want to go out there and get it. This is the sport we're in. This is what we live for. And there's nothing sweeter, nothing more difficult than to win the championship. We're proud to be in the Chase with that shot at it. I think we've got a really strong team this year. We've shown that all year long. And we've got to step it up in these final ten and to hoist that trophy really, to me, would just be the ultimate. To be at this point in my career, knowing how long it's been since we've won a championship and a race, that's how you appreciate those moments more than you ever have before. So I can't even describe the words what it would mean to win this championship. But I don't compare it to the other ones."
SO MUCH HAS BEEN MADE ABOUT JIMMIE JOHNSON THE LAST FOUR YEARS, AND CERTAINLY YOUR POST-SEASON SUCCESS. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT DENNY HAMLIN AND THE SUCCESS HE'S HAD THIS YEAR, AND THE MOMENTUM HE BRINGS INTO THE CHASE? "Yeah, he looks really, really strong. I really go back to last year at the end of the season and I felt like they had the team to beat. They had their issues that took them out of championship contention. It looked to me like they were building their team and their momentum for this year. With him winning six races and with him being strong in Atlanta; and winning at Richmond, I don't think anybody has more momentum than that team does right now."
-source: gm racing