Jeff Gordon - Chicagoland Friday media visit

Team Chevy press release

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET met with members of the media at Chicagoland Speedway and discussed the Chase, racing at Chicagoland and other topics.

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

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

HOW WAS YOUR CAR IN PRACTICE?: “It was pretty good. We didn’t make a qualifying run. We think going early tomorrow is going to be a little more of a benefit so we’ll make a qualifying run this next practice. We just worked on some race setup things and the car feels good. Got a little bit of balance to work on from new tires as the run goes on. Under these conditions, it’s cool and fast and a lot of grip so just trying to plan out and figure out what the heck it’s going to be like on Sunday.”

DID YOU THINK ABOUT THE CHASE BEGINNING WHEN YOU GOT IN THE CAR TODAY?: “Once you leave pit road, you leave pit road and your attention and focus can and always is only on one thing and that’s driving the race car, feeling what it’s doing, trying to push it to go as fast as you can and once you do that then nothing else is on your mind other than what your job is to do this weekend.”

WHAT DID YOU HEAR IN THE RADIO COMMUNICATION WITH PAUL MENARD THAT LEADS YOU TO THINK SOMETHING WAS FISHY?: “I didn’t make the comments, I was asked. I never brought it up -- the media asked me about it. I just thought it was interesting when I did hear about it about them giving the gaps between me and Kevin (Harvick) and then about going to radio two or channel two. As far as I’m concerned, it’s just something that NASCAR can deal with and we are ready to come here and focus on this race and do everything we can to win this championship. We’ve got an excellent opportunity and a great team and we’re not sitting here dwelling on last week. We were close to winning the race, we had ourselves in position, come home third and it was still a great finish for us.”

DO YOU THINK TEAMMATES CAN PLAY A ROLE IN THE LAST 10 RACES?: “I think if NASCAR doesn’t address it or look into it then it could play out. You’re going to do just about anything you can to try to win a championship. You want to benefit from your teammates the best that you possibly can. Most of the time when we think about that, it’s trying to gather information for setups to make the car go faster. We don’t think of that as what can we do on the race track to benefit where it alters the finish of a race. Who knows what measure you’ll take. We want to win. Everybody wants to win. I’m not really focused on that right now and that’s not anything that we are thinking about. We’re just thinking about going and getting the job done and not having to worry about all that stuff.”

DO YOU THINK NASCAR SHOULD TAKE A SECOND LOOK?: “If they feel that it’s warranted then good for them. Obviously, they’ve looked into it enough and they feel like they need to take a second look. Again, it’s not what we’re even worried about right now. I think the key is for things like that not to alter championship or at least as little as possible. By bringing attention to it then I think it will make people think twice about it. If they are thinking about that as an option in the future.”

WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO PUT AN END TO DALE EARNHARDT’S CHAMPIONSHIP STREAK?: “There’s so many reasons why winning a championship right now would be huge for us. Looking back on my career and how long I’ve been in this series, getting win number 85 this year and it’s been 10 years since we won a championship and never have won a Sprint Cup championship with this points format and everything. It would be huge. Of course the fact that everybody is trying to knock the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) off of what they’ve done for the last five years, which has been nothing more than miraculous. I think a lot of people would like to bring that streak to an end. I wasn’t thinking about that in 1995 with Earnhardt. I was just looking at the competition and we had a great team that year and a fast race car and we just went out there and tried to do our best and win the championship. It wasn’t about stopping a streak or keeping him from winning number eight or anything like that. It was just that we had what it took to win and we wanted to accomplish that and we did.”

IS THERE AN ADVANTAGE TO KEVIN HARVICK BEING THE ONLY RCR CAR AND IS THERE A DISADVANTAGE TO BEING ONE OF THREE HENDRICK CARS IN THE CHASE?: “I think it has its advantages and disadvantages. We seem to manage that pretty well at Hendrick Motorsports on how we work together and how we try to benefit from the information sharing from highly competitive cars and teams that we have at Hendrick Motorsports, but know that when the green flag drops it’s pretty much each team for themselves. I think there could be benefits to that, especially when you’ve got the 48 to gather information from. Those guys have been really, really strong the last five years and so you can learn a lot from them and from how they go about things. I see there being benefits like that. If they are the team to beat for the championship and they know what you’re doing and you know what they’re doing -- that’s tough to beat so that’s the down side to it.”

DO YOU KEEP INFORMATION CLOSER WITH YOUR TEAM?: “I feel like one of the things we’ve done this year so well and this has been known for years and this is why I got asked all these questions for years -- the 48 is winning and you’ve got the same car, same equipment and how come you guys aren’t winning? I drive different than Jimmie (Johnson) does. I need something different than what Jimmie has and that’s what Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) and his group of engineers have provided me this year is setups and cars that drive the way that I really like and have gotten me comfortable and that’s when the speed starts to come is when you’re comfortable and the car has grip, it’s doing what you want and you’re able to push it harder. I’ve been able to do that this year. We look at what the 48 has and we share a lot of information, but we also have slight differences and its working good for both of us.”

HOW WILL THE CHASE BE DIFFERENT WITH YOURSELF AND THE 48 TEAM?: “I felt like they had a little more momentum coming into the Chase in ’07 than we did. Even though we won some races in the Chase, we had a heck of an average finish that year and still felt that they were the dominant team. I feel like this year we’ve been the dominant team coming into the Chase over the last eight or 10 races. I think that coming into it, we have a slight advantage. That doesn’t matter -- it’s all about what we do now from this day moving forward over the next 10 weeks. We know that there are 11 other guys that are going to be tough to beat for this championship.”

DOES THE 48 TEAM HAVE ANY SECRETS?: “I don’t know if he has any secrets. They are just darned good and they are a great team. That’s their secret and that’s what each of us are striving to do is to make sure that we have the best team out there every week.”

DO YOU EXPECT A DIFFERENT CHICAGO RACE?: “We’re not if I look at the lap times of David Reutimann. He was very fast today and he was very fast here last year and I think he’s going to be tough to beat this weekend. I think the biggest difference that we’re going to see is the day race versus the night race. I think that of course the focus is going to be on what’s happening with the Chase, but when you purely just look at what it’s going to take to win this race, I think it’s going to be a little bit different just because track conditions will be a little different. We have a little different tire here this time around as well. Intensity always ramps up when the Chase starts so it will be a little more of an intense race just because of that.”

CAN THIS BE A STATEMENT WEEKEND BECAUSE OF THE TYPE OF RACE TRACK?: “I think everybody wants to make a statement early. You do everything you can. I don’t want that to get in the way of our focus of what we need to do to come out of here with a win or with a strong finish. You’ve got to go do your job. Focus on your car, your team and get the most out of it. If that’s a win, great. If that’s a fifth-place, great. Even if we come out of here with not a good finish then we have to manage ourselves and make sure we come back strong or if we do well, try not to get over excited. To me, 10 weeks is a lot of racing. More than a lot of people think.”

WHAT DO YOU DO TO BE SUCCESSFUL AT NEW HAMPSHIRE?: “I do like the line up of the Chase this year. I like having Chicago in the Chase because it is a good track for us. Then when you go to Loudon, it’s another good track for us. I’m looking forward to going there and for it being the second race in the Chase this year rather than the first race of the Chase. I think sometimes trying to break the ice of the first race of the Chase is a little tougher at Loudon than it is here. That place can be very, very tricky and with as tight of quarters as it is can cause some early frustrations and we’ve seen how it can affect the Chase. I think getting things started here at Chicago is great as well as the market here around Chicago from a marketing standpoint and then we go to New Hampshire next week for a great flat mile track that we run well at.”

WHAT IS THE KEY TO YOUR SUCCESS AT NEW HAMPSHIRE?: “If I told you that then I would be giving away too many secrets I guess. You just have to get the car to where you can drive in deep and get it to cut the middle and you’ll be able to apply the throttle as quickly as you possibly can and get up off the corners really good. Those are long straightaways for a mile track.”

HAVE YOU SPOKEN WITH PAUL MENARD?: “I haven’t. I like to talk to Paul (Menard) and I really like Paul. I was so thrilled for him to win that Brickyard even though it prevented us from winning it. I think he’s a great guy and love having him in the sport. Again, I’m not saying anything happened, I’m just saying that I was asked questions about what happened and when I heard about the radio communication, it sounded odd to me. Obviously, it did to others as well because they are looking into it.”

DO YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT THEIR EXPLANATION WAS?: “Even though (Jon) Edwards dropped the ball at Atlanta and telling me that it was win number 85, he was pretty good on giving me some feedback from the media center today.”

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags chevrolet, chicagoland, gordon, sprint cup