Jeff Gordon Dover II Friday media visit

Team Chevy press release

JEFF GORDON, NO 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Dover International Speedway and discussed the Chase, racing at Dover, the competition, upcoming tracks on the schedule and other topic.

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

Photo by: Ted Rossino

TALK ABOUT THIRD RACE OF THE CHASE FOR THE NASCAR SPRINT CUP, YOU GOT BACK IN THE HUNT AT NEW HAMPSHIRE AND NOW THIS WEEKEND HERE AT DOVER: “We had the race there that we needed to have. Obviously we were in a position to get a little bit more than what we did, but, still, to get that top-five was big for us. I hope that we can keep that momentum going. Chicago was definitely not a good race for us. But to have that good run at New Hampshire, allows us to focus on what we need to do here. I feel really good. So far the weekend is going well. This is a track I love. We’re excited to have Chase Credit Card Services on our Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet this weekend and the support they are giving us through purchases on the AARP card. Yes, we are looking forward to the weekend and week three and every weekend is a nail-biter. You never know what is going to come out of it. “

HOW DO YOU SIZE UP THE GAME PLANS OF THE COMPETITION FOR THE CHASE? “I don’t know what the competition is doing. I just know what we’re doing. We’re just trying to get the best finishes we can every single week. At this point, it doesn’t really matter what the competition is doing. We are just trying to lead laps; lead the most laps and win the race. When we can’t do that, we get the best finish that we can. The thing that we are trying not to do is to do what we did at Chicago. Obviously fuel mileage is something we kind of focus a little bit more on. We’re making sure that we don’t make some big mistakes in that area which we came very close to that happening last week, but, luckily we recovered. But, as far as the competition is concerned, to me, when you get caught up in what the competition is doing, that is when you’re just chasing, you’re not really leading the Chase. I feel like with the momentum we had coming into the Chase, and the way our team has been performing lately, it is really just all about what we are capable of doing.”

WHAT DID YOU LEARN AT DOVER IN YOUR SPRING RACE THAT TRANSLATED WELL TO BRISTOL AND HOPEFULLY TRANSLATES WELL BACK HERE AT DOVER? “We weren’t great here, but we were a lot better than the result showed. That last stop; some guys stayed out; some guys took two tires. I was in a car that took two tires and was on the inside. I picked the third lane and on the restart, my car wasn’t very good on the restarts. That’s the one thing that were lacking. And then the outside lane was the place to be here on the restarts. It’s so….we got back to the guys then that had four tires and it was just a downhill battle from there. We had a bad result, that we, I feel like have really made big gains in our race cars since we were here last. We’ve got to qualify. I think that qualifying may have gotten rained out the last time we were here. We were pretty far back in the points at that time too. We’re hoping by our practice speeds today, if it does rain tomorrow, we’re good. And, I feel like because of our practice speeds today, we’ve got a good car for qualifying so either way we are covered. Track position is important but we were not as good of a team nor did we have as good a race cars the last time we were here. So we’ve learned a lot since then to improve our performance here at Dover. This is a place where we used to dominate. I’d love to get back to that. It’s just trying to find that right balance which can be tricky here on this fast one-mile race track.”

BRISTOL TRANSLATING TO DOVER, HOW DOES THAT WORK? “I hope it translates. We’re certainly trying to make it translate. I feel like we’re better this weekend because of some things that we did at Bristol that we learned there. But, it’s a different race track than Bristol. I mean, even though it is concrete and looks similar. You put that one-mile in length race track versus a half-mile, it changes things a lot. The loads that you experience here and in the balance that you have to have here. Plus the way the rubber gets laid down on the race track here changes things a lot. But I do feel like we are a lot closer this time than we were last summer.”

TWO THINGS, WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU ARE IN COMPARISON TO OTHER CHAMPIONSHIP TEAMS YOU ARE A PART OF AND ARE WE SEEING UNCHARACTERISTIC THINGS FROM THE NO. 48 (JIMMIE JOHNSON) NOW? “As far as the No. 48, it doesn’t matter. They have gotten off to slow starts in the Chase before and they do miraculous things so you can’t ever count them out and I wouldn’t count them out this year either. To me this is a big weekend for them. This is a track that he really gets around well, that team does well here so they can get themselves right back in it in a hurry. I’ve never won a Chase in the Sprint Cup championship so it’s hard for me to compare. All I can compare to is ’04, ’07, the years that we’ve had since the Chase and the Sprint Cup was put together. We had strong teams and cars that year and we just didn’t quite get it done in the final races. It’s just so much different when you’re talking about 10 races. Just by looking at what Tony’s (Stewart) had done. Tony came in with very little momentum and everybody pretty much counting him out and he wins the first two so it doesn’t matter what you do throughout the season, it only matters what you do during these 10 as long as you’re in it. Last week was important for us. We had a great run and a great finish. Chicago was a little bit of a set back and alarming to us but at the same time runs like that this year have been what have made us stronger and better so I’m kind of happy that happened in the first race because I think it got our attention and made us make sure that we crossed our t’s and dot our i’s and pay attention to some of the smaller details. This team is strong. Just like this week, we did our debrief from Loudon and the fuel issues and all that, to me nobody knows how to attack those problems better than this team does. So we recover, we’re coming in here and we’re excited and feel confident and certainly looking forward to seeing what we can do this weekend. This is also a big weekend for us because this is a track that is on our radar for not so good tracks. If we can come out of here with a good finish I think it speaks volumes about our chances.”

AT THE PHOENIX TEST NEXT WEEK DO ANY OF YOUR OLD NOTES APPLY AT ALL OR DO YOU APPORACH IT AS A BRAND NEW RACE TRACK? “We will let you know when we get out of there. All I can tell you is the No. 48 did a tire test there so we’ve got a little bit of information there and it looks like turns three and four are not that much different from the radius of the corner, the banking, but the grip level and the smoothness of the track obviously is a big change. I think that you’re really going to be able to do similar things that you did before but just get a lot more aggressive with them because of the grip and because of the smoothness of the track. I’ll be anxious to see what they did back there on the back straightaway. From what I saw in the video it was eye-opening and not in a good way. So I’m looking forward to getting out there and seeing it in person and see just how much our notes – obviously we ran really well there earlier in the year with the win so we’d love for that to transfer over so we’ll find out. I don’t think it’s going to be as different as we originally thought.”

HOW HAVE YOU EMBRACED SOCIAL MEDIA AND HOW HAS IT HELPED WITH ALL THE CAUSES THAT YOU HAVE? “I think social media these days is an important aspect of everything we are doing. From being a race car driver and connecting with the fans in a whole new way is important for me personally, it’s important for sponsors and it’s important for the philanthropy work we’re doing as well. It’s amazing the loyal fan following that we have. What I love about social media is being able to have that connection and really seeing the loyalty that our fans have. You see the positives and the negatives and you see the passion that they have. With all of it it’s loyalty and really your true core fans that are involved with social media that are there. And it definitely pays off for all the work that we’re doing. We’re certainly thankful for that. I get a lot of great reactions from people on twitter when I’m over in the Congo or doing a go-kart or bowling event here, tremendous support. Our sponsors recognize that very much. Had I gotten involved with social media a little sooner would have been better. When we were on the sponsor hunt prior to this year, I wasn’t actively being involved with the social media and when we would meet with potential sponsors that was definitely a question that came up and there wasn’t a whole lot of good information we could give them because there wasn’t much I was doing, but a totally different picture now moving forward. So I’m having fun with it, I’m enjoying it as well. I think our sponsors are happy to see us grow our facebook and twitter because it definitely helps their cause out as well.”

WE HEAR THAT EVERYBODY GETS ONE MULIGAN THEY CAN USE, DO YOU FEEL LIKE AFTER CHICAGOLAND THAT MULIGAN IS USED UP? “I do feel like our mulligan is used up and you hate to do it in race one and it could have been a lot worse than that but I do think any worse finish than what we had there then we were out of it. So I would call that a mulligan. I think 25th or 24th wherever we finished there I would say that is a mulligan. I don’t think a 35th is a mulligan. It all depends on how you follow it up, you can have a 30th or 35th-place finish, or 40th if you win the next four races. It’s really all about your average finish I think is the real key there. When I say we used up our mulligan I say we used it up because in order to maintain the average that I think we have to have which I think you’re looking at a sixth or seventh-place average to get the championship, so if you have that mulligan you have to follow it up with some great finishes and get that average where it needs to be. We got a bit of a gift last week I feel like because besides Tony (Stewart) everybody else kind of had issues whether it be a tire issue or a fuel issue and were quite a ways behind us so we were able to not only have a strong finish but make up a lot of points on a lot of guys except for Tony as I mentioned.”

THE NEXT TWO WEEKENDS WE’VE GOT TWO 1.5-MILE TRACKS COMING UP, KANSAS WHERE YOU HAVE EIGHT TOP-FIVES AND CHARLOTTE WHERE YOU’VE ALWAYS RUN WELL THERE, CAN YOU TAKE US THROUGH THOSE TWO TRACKS? “You weren’t at Charlotte in May I guess. Yeah, Kansas is a good track for us. I’m very excited about going back there. I feel like Kansas is where we really turned the corner this year with our 1.5-mile program. We ran really strong there and I felt like we had a shot at winning that race. I look forward to getting back there. Charlotte, I feel like is a track that we have some work to do and that’s kind of where I say the good things that come from what happened at Chicago will allow us to put a little extra effort into what we’re going to take to Charlotte. I love Charlotte, it’s a track that I enjoy a lot but the car has to be right there and I’ve got to give feedback and make sure we have a package that’s going to be competitive there. I mean, listen every race is important. It doesn’t matter where you are going, what your past experience or stats are there its just all about what we do in these next seven weeks. That’s all it boils down to.”

FOR THOSE WHO DO NOT KNOW MUCH ABOUT THE CHASE, WHAT DOES THE CHASE MEAN TO YOU AND HOW MUCH WOULD IT MEAN TO OBVIOUSLY WIN? “It’s our playoffs. It’s our championship. It’s everything we work for. It’s the ultimate achievement and goal in motorsports especially with NASCAR is to achieve the championship. Where it used to come down to a full season, now it comes down to 10 races. It’s very challenging. I think it’s far more competitive now than it’s ever been which only makes the reward that much sweeter if you can achieve it. Only one guy has done it the last five straight years so we’re all looking to try to put a different name on that trophy this year and we’ve got an excellent shot at it.”

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags chevrolet, gordon, hendrick

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