Martinsville: Jeff Gordon - Saturday media visit

Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Impala SS, met with members of the media to discuss his success at Martinsville, if he can achieve the same success here in the Impala SS, transitioning between the two different Chevrolet race cars and more. ON ...

Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Impala SS, met with members of the media to discuss his success at Martinsville, if he can achieve the same success here in the Impala SS, transitioning between the two different Chevrolet race cars and more.

ON DIFFERENCES IN THE IMPALA SS AT MARTINSVILLE VERSUS BRISTOL: "The car isn't different, the track is different. I felt like it would be a little bit easier to get a hold of, to get the travels and different things right. But I also knew it would be very competitive, which it has been, and it wouldn't be easy. The car has a lot of characteristics as last week. Martinsville is one of those tracks where it is going to be pretty hard to change what is going to happen here."

ON WHY HE HAS HAD SO MUCH SUCCESS AT MARTINSVILLE: "I always say that we had a test here a long time ago, I don't remember what year it was, maybe it was 1994 or so, and we made a ton of laps. Throughout that test I don't know if it was the first or second day, nothing was working. We couldn't get the car to turn in the middle of the corner. So I just started trying some different things, the way I attacked the car, the track, and I hit on some things. Ever since then, that is my goal, I focus on that one to thing. I look for that and try to get good information back to the team to get the car to do what we want it to do."

ON WHETHER HE FEELS LIKE HE CAN HAVE SAME SUCCESS WITH NEW GENERATION RACE CAR: "There are no guarantees. The thing is I am still looking for it is just how do we make this car do the same things. That is the real challenge. This car, it is hard to get it to feel that way. It might not ever ever really feel like the old car, but it is a race car. As a race car, you still have to try and achieve the same things. "

ON COMMENTS BY OTHER DRIVERS THAT THEY NEED TO STOP CRITICIZING THE NEW GENERATION RACE CAR AND GO FORWARD: "I agree to an extent. Any criticism I give is to see if there is anything we can do to make this car what it needs to be for the future. Who is to say it is perfect right now. Our current Monte Carlo took years of development so any criticism I have is purely constructive. I know this is the car or a very similar version of this is the car that we are going to be racing for the future and I agree with Kevin (Harvick). Complaining isn't going to do any of us any good. We need to help our manufacturers out there in the market place. We need to help NASCAR put on great races and us drivers need to go out there and entertain the fans."

ON NOW KNOWING MORE ON HOW TO GET THE IMPALA SS TO HAVE THE FEEL HE WANTS IN A RACE CAR: "Maybe a little bit but this week is so much different than last week. This track is flat and smooth and it is all about getting in to the corner deep under braking and trying to get it to turn through the center on these sharp turns. That is quite a bit different than what you deal with at Bristol. So the things you applied to this car last week, you don't apply to it this week necessarily. We are still learning."

ON DRIVER'S WHO HAD EXHAUST FUME PROBLEMS AT BRISTOL: "The tailpipes cracked and broke. We didn't have that problem. I was nice and cool in the car and had no more fumes than I normally have. If anything, I was probably better than I have been in the past. I am not saying we won't have them. I think the problems were with guys who actually had something break in the exhaust system. With this new car, there are certain areas that you have to pay attention to and maybe we just got lucky, but we didn't have any of those problems."

ON EASE OF BUMPING SOMEONE WITH THE WAY THE BUMPERS ARE ON NEW CARS: "I think the way the bumpers meet up, when you have the bumpers that low it doesn't allow air underneath the car so somebody can get you a lot looser coming up behind you. But as far as the bump drafting and some of the things we see at some tracks I think is better. I have always felt that the old bumpers were mismatched badly. You would just go underneath the guy, you never really actually touched the guy."

ON HAVING MORE BRAKE ISSUES AT MARTINSVILLE WITH NEW CAR VERSUS OLD CAR: "I have already been challenged by the brakes. You are probably going to see a lot of guys locking up front brakes, trying to get the car slowed down in the corner to turn. Anytime you take downforce out of the car, it doesn't slow down as fast. I definitely noticed I could overdrive the corner. We didn't run enough laps in race trim yet, so we will know more Saturday when we run enough laps to wear the brakes in to know where issues are going to be on long runs.

ON DIFFICULTY GOING BACK AND FORTH FROM ONE CAR TO ANOTHER: "I think it is hard on both the driver and the crews but maybe a little more on the drivers just because the feel of the cars are so different. It challenges the team as well because you have to set the car up totally different. But I think it is just mainly a feel thing. It would be different if we did Martinsville today in the Impala and then tomorrow climb back in the Monte Carlo. But we aren't doing that we are going to go to a totally different track. I don't think that is even an issue going back and forth between the cars.

"I think it more of an issue for the teams having to build two different cars. Right now it is not the most cost effective way to things. We hope that it will be in the future when we only have to build one car."

ON MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY: "I think this track means a lot to this sport. This track has been around for so long and we have seen a lot of great racing here. For me personally, I have liked this track from early on in my career and had success here. Anytime you run good at a track like this like we do, then you are going to like it a lot. We have a lot of those Grandfather clocks to show for it.

"I like all the short tracks. Here you can't over drive the corners, you have got to be smooth in the gas. You have to really work hard with the team to get the car to roll smooth through the center of the corners. I like short track racing in general. It is a tough place to get around so I guess I like the challenge of it.

"If you drive in the corner too easy, and it you don't get in the gas hard enough off the corner, then you aren't going to go fast. It is a fine line, it is a balance and the other guys that find that balance go fast here.

"You have to drive it quite a bit different in the new car than before. I couldn't get the car slowed down to get in the corner. Couldn't get it to turn in the middle. But with like everything else, it takes a different combination. We came to Martinsville with our best guess and you either hit it or you don't. We had to make quite a few changes to get the car to do what I want it to do. Right there at the end, I felt like we really started hitting on some things. I was pretty happy with the way I was able to drive the car there at the end. These short tracks I don't think you are going to see a big difference, when we go on to the bigger tracks, I think that is when this car is really going to take shape of what kind of car we have."

ON NEED TO TEST AT ALL TRACKS NEW CAR IS GOING TO RACE: "Here is the thing. Thank goodness we tested Bristol. If we had gone to Bristol without a test, it would have been a disaster. That track is so tough to figure out. But here, we had the test at Bristol, we had the race, but I think this is a track you can go to without testing and adapt faster. It is smooth, flat. The big thing here is the heavy braking.

"The Richmond test is very critical. I am going to say guys who didn't test at Darlington are going to be in trouble. I got to do the tire test and I feel very fortunate. Phoenix is the same. The guys that did the tire test out there will have a big advantage going in to that race. I think those too tracks are the two most important tracks as well as Bristol with the car that we have seen so far. I am very anxious to go to Richmond because we have been horrible there the last couple of races so I am hoping this new car is better for us there than what the current car is."

ON THIS EARLY STRETCH OF RACES TAKING ON MORE SIGNIFICANCE IN POINTS POSITIONING BECAUSE OF UNKNOWN OF NEW RACE CAR NOW IN THE MIX: "I had never really thought about it but now you make me worry about it. I guess I better make sure I get on with it during this stretch. (LAUGHS) I go to race to race to race. That is how I have always done it. I don't think of it as this or that particular stretch, even though you are right, you are absolutely right. That is just not how I focus on it. As a team, we think ahead and prepare for races and prepare for tests. As a driver, I focus as much as I can on this weekend and then when we leave here, I start focusing on the next race. Maybe I am a one-track mind guy. I do think things are really going to shape up over the next couple of weeks. The new Impala SS is going to play a big role in that because not only is it going to shape the points, but it is really going to show who has a handle on the new car. Five of the last 10 races are with the new car, that is the most important part in my opinion."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon