Michigan: Jeff Gordon - Friday media visit

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT/NATIONAL GUARD JOB SKILLS CHEVROLET met with media and discussed racing at Michigan, driver rivalries, NASCAR R&D meeting, and more. ON RACING AT MICHIGAN "I love coming to Michigan. As good as our team and our cars...

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT/NATIONAL GUARD JOB SKILLS CHEVROLET met with media and discussed racing at Michigan, driver rivalries, NASCAR R&D meeting, and more.

ON RACING AT MICHIGAN "I love coming to Michigan. As good as our team and our cars have been this year, it's definitely a track that's a highlight on our list of tracks that we're looking forward to coming to and things went really well (in practice) today. Of course the rain shortened it and we only got a couple of qualifying runs in, but still feel really good about today as well as the weekend."

ON JOEY LOGANO, DOES HE RACE YOU HARDER THAN HE SHOULD OR JUST NOT GIVING RESPECT TO HIS ELDERS, OR IS THIS JUST THAT THE VETERANS DON'T LIKE THE NEW KID COMING IN? "I haven't had any issues with Joey. I feel like when he's competitive he's aggressive and does what he needs to do and when he's not, he's respectful. It seems like he's always respectful. So I've had no issues with Joey. He and I have raced one another hard and clean and if I felt like he was ever out of line, I feel like it was justified (laughs)."

DID YOU GO TO THE R&D MEETINGS WITH NASCAR THIS WEEK? CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THAT? "I just like the trend that they're setting and I think that's the direction I think they're going in and I think they saw a lot of value in going about those meetings and trying to get as much input from the teams, car owners, and drivers; and crew chiefs, if they're not in those meetings, there are other meetings with them that they're getting information from as well. It's good business. It's valuable for everybody to see where their thought process is currently and where the sport is. They've got a lot of data that none of us, or at least from a driver's standpoint, have the access to. So updating us on where the sport is at and what kind of feedback they're getting from the fans and from the media, and so it's good to get updated as well as having open conversation about some ideas that they have coming along in the future. What's nice about it is you feel like you're in a forum where you can be open and honest and tell them what you really feel about it and that it doesn't go any further than that, and let them continue to make their decisions based on gathering that information. So I think it's just another way to gather information from as many drivers and car owners and crew chiefs as they possibly can. I'm a big fan of it. It doesn't mean I always like what I hear in those meetings. There's always a bit of a surprise that comes to you and you don't know where they're going to go with that and whether it gets implemented or not. They're certainly thinking about a lot of things. Some are in the box and some are outside the box. That's, in my opinion, what you want them to be doing."

QUESTION INAUDIBLE (ON MEETING TOPICS) "Yeah, you know, it's testing and open testing and not open testing, Chase formats, top 35 in points, the racing, where we're at at Talladega, Daytona, and other places, and the spoiler. All the things that you'd think that they would want to talk about; everything really across the board."

GIVEN THE TALK ABOUT JOEY LOGANO, WITH YOUR EXPERIENCE, YOU FACED MIXED SIGNALS AS A YOUNG DRIVER IN THIS SPORT. YOU KNOW MORE NOW THAN YOU DID THEN. IT MUST BE DIFFICULT TO STRIKE A BALANCE BETWEEN BEING RESPECTFUL WITH OTHER DRIVERS AND STANDING UP FOR YOURSELF AND NOT GETTING RUN OVER. "It's a tough situation and I'll tell you why. It's because of the cars' aerodynamics and how close and competitive each car and team and driver is today; everything is so much tighter than it used to be. The gaps between the competition used to be a lot greater. If you ran a guy down from half a straightaway or a straightaway and you got to that guy and he chopped you once, maybe even twice, then the third time you taught him a lesson. And some guys taught him a lesson on the first chop and some guys taught him a lesson on the third or fourth one. But these days, because of the way the aerodynamics are, a lot of times you can't even get to their bumper and when you do get to him, sometimes to even be able to teach him that lesson is impossible. So it gets almost more frustrating at times. It just depends on the situation. The reason I say what I said before that is because even my rule of thumb has changed a little bit. In the past had somebody been quite a bit faster than me or I'm not saying the closing laps, but in the majority of the race, I would give up that spot a lot easier just to be respectful and trying to build good relations with the drivers out there so you can compete for a championship when that time is needed. You want to race them the way they race you.

"But these days it's a lot harder to give up those spots and those positions because it's a lot harder to make up that ground once you give up that position. It seems like track position is so important. So, you'll fight and battle a guy a lot more than you used to. I don't really know what the heck happened there with Joey and Kevin (Harvick). I really haven't paid a whole lot of attention to what their past is and what the issues are. But I'm just basing it on a young guy coming in that if you go out there and you're competitive and you're battling up front, that earns respect; especially when you do it on a consistent basis. You give and take when you're in the heat of the battle, especially when you're 15th or 20th. And then you wait for your days. If you put up a big fight, and if a guy, a veteran driver like Kevin Harvick, feels like every time he gets to him he's putting up a big fight. Or every time Joey is behind him he gets up on his bumper and is getting him loose instead of actually trying to pass him, then those are what create these rivalries and these situations. Thank God, man, it's awesome. I love it. Let's keep it going and let's keep talking about it. This has been an exciting season so far in our sport and we need that. And it's because of these types of things that are happening. I hope they continue to happen. I don't necessarily want to be a part of it, but if it happens to be me then okay, I don't know if our time out of that kind of spotlight is done yet this year (with Jimmie Johnson) because I want to be battling for some more wins and doing some things that we did at Texas and some of the other tracks. That's the only thing I can really give you on that."

IN INDY CAR, THEY HAVE BLOCKING PENALTIES. WHERE DO YOU DRAW THE LINE? "Well, you're talking about two completely different situations. Open wheel racing, you can't block. You can't touch wheels, especially when you're doing 220 mph. That's extremely dangerous and they have to enforce that rule a lot more in those types of race cars. It doesn't matter where you're at, whether you're at Indy or Texas or at a Sprint Car track. That's just totally different. When you're talking about Stock Cars, I learned very early on in Stock Car racing coming from the Open Wheel cars, that if the car behind you, Randy Baker taught me this. Don't know if any of you guys remember Randy Baker, but that was my first experience of 'inside' and 'clear' was at Charlotte Motor Speedway in a qualifying race in a Busch car and he literally was a half-inch inside of my left-rear bumper and in my world at that time, you're not there. You lift, you get on the brakes and you fall back in behind the guy. In Stock Cars, that's no-no, you've got a spotter on the roof telling you I'm here and you give me that space because I'm not going to lift. And that's just the way it is. It's always been that way. It's been that way ever since that day; it has been that way for me in Stock Cars. And that's what we all expect. So we race totally differently. And that's one of the biggest challenges that the Open Wheel guys have when they come to this series is learning that because that's the reality of fenders on Stock Cars in our type of racing."

GOING BACK THE PREVIOUS QUESTION, IT SEEMS LIKE WE HAVE DUST-UPS ALMOST AT THE END OF EVERY RACE BUT THEY SEEM TO DISSIPATE AS QUICKLY AS THEY COME. ARE LONG-TERM RIVALRIES A THING OF THE PAST? "I've asked this question many times. I guess I've never had the opportunity to ask the right people. But I don't get the long-term rivalries and how guys won championships. Now maybe because you had a lot more engines blowing up and cars failing to finish the race or you just had such a bigger gap in competition that maybe you could get away with it. But if you build a rivalry with a guy and every week you're messing with him and he's messing with you, it's taking away your chance to win the race. If you start getting into a rivalry that's so heated that you're wrecking one another, you're probably not even going to be in the Chase, let alone have a shot at the championship because if you tick a guy off enough, he's going to make sure you don't win that championship. And that's why I don't understand when I go back through the history and watch all the things with Rusty (Wallace) and (Dale) Earnhardt and the Allisons and all these different rivalries, how did they win championships? And then you go to Richard (Petty) and his seven (championships), you don't hear about these rivalries with Richard getting in all these heated arguments and he's won more races and championships than anybody. So he seemed to keep the peace pretty good and I think that had a big part in him having cars at the end of the races to win those races and those championships. So, in my opinion, it's always been the case for me is if I get into a battle with a guy, I want to patch things up because I don't want it to linger because I don't want it to affect me at a time when it's crucial for us to win a race or battle for the championship. While it's great for the show, it's not great for you as a competitor."

ON THE INTENSE RACING AT THE END OF THE POCONO RACE LAST WEEK, WHERE DO YOU SEE IT GOING? "Well there's a difference between intentionally just taking a guy out and hard racing in the closing laps of a race. A driver will get over that a little bit quicker and go well, you know, he was just racing hard for the position. But I tell you, it was intense last week. When you get cars side-by-side on one of those long straightaways at Pocono, it really allows for that slipstream behind, to make it three and four-wide. And you go into the tunnel turn two and three-wide and everybody's on the brakes hard and it gets just crazy. I had restarts where I was in the right lane with the momentum and I'd drive by guys and gain three or four spots and then I was in the one where I lost 10 spots. And it happened to me last year there at Pocono. The intensity is so strong at the end of those closing laps and restarts that you just are trying to gain as many positions and not lose any positions and you've got to be extremely aggressive and that means bump-drafting; it means going three and four-wide and that's what's going to create some of those situations that you see at the end of the race. It's not fun, but it's exciting for an outsider."

QUESTION INAUDIBLE "No, I don't think so. I look at the situation between the No. 9 (Kasey Kahne) and the No. 43 (AJ Allmendinger). I feel like the No. 43 was doing pretty much, I did it, I mean I blocked the No. 17 (Matt Kenseth) and he ran into the back of me and it happened every restart. Guys were blocking because you're racing a guy. You get position on them and you look up and here they come and all you can do it block him and then the guy behind you either gets to that point where he gets frustrated because he had the momentum and you just blocked the momentum and he's either going to push you or try to pass you. So the No. 9 had the momentum and I just don't think he thought he was going to get run down all the way to the grass. So it was just two guys racing hard for those positions. If the No. 9 clears him; it's just like me and Talladega. If I clear the No. 48 (Jimmie Johnson) I think I've got a shot at the win. The No. 9, he probably felt the same way if he cleared the No. 43, that was going to not just gain him those two spots, but keep the momentum going and maybe gain him another two or three before he even got to the start/finish line."

HOW COULD THE GREEN-WHITE-CHECKERED RULE CHANGE THE RACE ON SUNDAY? "Well it changes the way we race every event. But it only changes it in a way where it just intensifies things and makes you focus on your transmission and restarts and inside and outside lane if you're the leader and picking some things like that. Other than that, you can't have a real set plan. You go into every one of them going okay, I'm going to get the best restart I can and I'm going to go wherever the guy in front of me isn't. At this track, there are a lot of places to go. So I would definitely think you're going to see them fanned out really wide on those restarts, especially as you get into the closing laps and it's going to be intense. That's what to me, makes this one of the best tracks that we have. There are so many different grooves to race on and especially when you throw in a double-file green-white-checkered restart. It's going to be intense."

-source: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Kevin Harvick , Jimmie Johnson , Randy Baker