JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Martinsville Speedway and discussed racing at Martinsville, last week’s incident with Trevor Bayne, how he likes the new points system and much more.

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

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

TALK ABOUT COMING INTO MARTINSVILLE, A RACE TRACK YOU HAVE CERTAINLY HAD SUCCESS AT OVER THE YEARS. “I always enjoy coming here to Martinsville and certainly this weekend is no different. It’s a fun track. It’s one of those tracks on the circuit that very few things have changed over the years, or minimal compared to a lot of the bigger tracks with aerodynamics and with the engineering how it affected those tracks this is the one that has the least amount of affects so all those years of experience and laps around here still continue to pay off. So, very excited about getting out there on track. I hate this rain is here. I look forward to when it goes away and finally getting out there.”

WHAT IF YOU DON’T GET PRACTICE TODAY, HOW MUCH OF AN AFFECT WILL THAT HAVE ON FOLKS AT A SHORT TRACK LIKE THIS? “We’ve got a couple of things we would like to try. Things that maybe are on our list of things we didn’t get a chance to try last time or things we’ve come up with since then. You are always trying to improve and make the car go faster with the set up so I think that’s the biggest thing for us is just trying to see if we can get on track and how those changes work. Other than that, it comes down to who it affects more than others based on points and things like that. We won’t qualify unless we get practice and I think if we don’t get today in I’m going to guess that we probably don’t qualify and we just have practice tomorrow. Then you have weather issues tomorrow as well so you get into Sunday, I mean we can’t predict all this stuff. I’m hoping we get on track and get some laps, get a feel for it. For us, we were pretty strong here the last time and there’s a slight tire change I believe so we would like to think we should be pretty good based on how we were the last time and we would just make all our adjustments and calls for the race based on what we know from the last time and a little bit of information on the tire data.”

I GET THE IMPRESSION THAT THIS IS A PLACE WHERE IMPROVEMENT COMES GRADUALLY IF AT ALL, GIVEN THE FACT THAT THE TOP-TWO GUYS IN POINTS HAVE HISTORICALLY STRUGGLED HERE IS IT REALISTIC TO THINK THEY CAN REVERSE THAT TREND IN ONE RACE? “I think one of them could have to do with how they qualify. Let’s say we go by points, if these guys start up front that might change their race. You can take it a little easier on your brakes – if they qualified good here in the past but still struggled then there would be a little bit of reason for concern but if they have not qualified good here in the past and they struggled I think that if we don’t get on track and don’t qualify that might benefit them to be able to put a little bit better race together. But yeah, this is one of those tracks there’s very few light bulb moments that go on here. It’s just all kinds of little tiny details that come together as a driver to help you get around this track. Then the set up has to compliment it or work with it as well. For me, that’s what happened here, back in the day I was able to test here, come make a lot of laps and start working on those details and once I figured out a few fairly major things that I would call maybe a bit of an light bulb moment it allowed me to then give really good information to the team to figure out how to go faster. That’s why I say so few things have changed here over the year, that what I learned then and what we do as a team from all the way back to 15 or 18 years ago can still sort of apply and does apply so I think this is that one place where experience and having a good baseline or a good track record can continue to pay off for you.”

HOW MUCH DEFERENCE DO YOU GUYS WHO REALLY AREN’T IN THE CHASE RIGHT NOW GIVE TO THE GUYS THAT ARE IN THE CHASE? “It’s funny because Matt (Kenseth) and I have been talking a lot this year and I say our differences in the past are gone. I respect Matt a lot, always have, but we as competitors have had our run-ins. I’m going to respect those guys that are racing for a championship but I don’t want to be the determining factor that affects the championship in a major way but we are here to win so I’m gonna do just about everything I can to win but I’m not going to take one of those guys out to do it. Now if they turn across my nose and I’m inside of them I can’t control that so I’m going to run the race that I think I need to run to win here. I think those guys, we have to be mindful of what they have going on but they have to be mindful of the situation that they’re in. I know in the past when I’ve been in championship battles, I’d look at who I’m racing, what kind of aggressiveness that competitor has and when I come to a place like Martinsville if that guy dives inside of me and tries to out-brake me and he’s an aggressive driver I’m going to give him a little more room. If it’s somebody that I feel like is going to give me and inch, then I’m going to take an inch because the championship is on the line and you can’t just be pushed around by everybody so you’ve still got to race hard. Past experiences good ones or negative ones, I put that behind me. I’m just here thinking about Martinsville and what it’s going to take to win and we are here to win. You can’t just say oh that guy is racing for the championship I can’t pass him, that’s not the case. I think we all have to understand the situation.”

AFTER TALLADEGA YOU SAID THAT EITHER TREVOR WAS TOLD NOT TO DRAFT WITH YOU OR HE HAD NO INTENTION OF DRAFTING WITH YOU, DO YOU STILL FEEL THAT WAY? “I didn’t say I thought that I said I had my doubts and questioned it. I spoke to Trevor numerous times. Poor guy, I felt for him to be honest with you. I think that it was sort of an at the moment call that he had to make based on what was happening in the Ford camp during the week of saying hey we’ve got to help one another out the best we can. I think that when the No. 17 lost his drafting partner, I guess the No. 6 blew up for something on that restart and he got right in there behind Trevor and put himself in the right position and Trevor had to make a decision. It was unfortunate for me and really it was unfortunate for them because they fell back also trying to get connected. At that time I definitely questioned what the intentions were and maybe what the radio transmission was and whether their intentions were never to work with me and after talking to Trevor I feel confident that was not the case, that it was the No. 17 lost his drafting partner, he could use your help or he needs you, whatever and he had to let me go at that point.”

IS THAT OKAY IF TEAMS SAY HEY WE’RE ONLY GOING TO DRAFT WITH GUYS FROM OUR MANUFACTURER AND NOT ANYBODY ELSE? “Here’s the way I look at it. Its okay for them to talk about it for any of us, I unfortunately think it took away an opportunity for Trevor Bayne to win that race by doing that and I told them this. I said listen, one way you can think about it okay yeah the No. 17 is trying to win a championship, I don’t know if that helped him or hurt him by connecting with you but from a Ford standpoint if he had pushed me all the way and we were going, a lot of people say were seventh, we were third when he pulled out, if he had stayed in behind me I think we could have battled those two guys up there for the lead and then he could have dumped me coming to the line like Clint Bowyer did and finished ahead of me and got possibly a win or a very good finish for that team. I think this whole manufacturer thing, all of us have to be careful with saying we cannot work with them because you might take away the possibility of you winning the race for your manufacturer by being too strict with those guidelines. That’s just the way I feel about it. I mean if I feel like on the last lap restart I can push a Toyota to get to the front and then leave him out coming to the line I think that’s a win for me and for our manufacturer is the way I look at it and I feel like I used them to get me there. So I think that’s even an added bonus.”

WITH 90 PERCENT OF THE SEASON GONE ARE YOU STILL A FAN OF THE CURRENT POINT SYSTEM AND WHAT IF ANYTHING WOULD YOU LIKE TO CHANGE DURING THE OFF SEASON? “I like it, the only think I don’t like about it is where I’m sitting but that’s based on performance. I still think that it comes down to performing well and consistency and scoring the most points. I think it does seem to be a little bit easier to calculate and figure out. So far I really like it.”

WONDERING IF YOU WATCH THE WORLD SERIES GAME LAST NIGHT AND WHAT YOU THOUGH AND IF YOU HAVE A PREDICTION FOR TONIGHT’S GAME? “Well I watched it until I had to go to sleep. It was a late one. When I got up this morning I checked out the results and it was unfortunate that I did have to finally go to sleep because it was obviously a great finish. I though Texas had it several times and I would like to Nolan Ryan get that World Series so kind of pulling for those guys. When it comes to things like that I just like to see a great game. I’m not a huge baseball fan, it’s not something I watch a lot until the World Series comes along but it’s great to see that they’re having a great series and it’s exciting and goes to game seven. It’s pretty cool.”

ARE YOU READY FOR THE TEXAS HIGHLIGHTS WITH YOU AND JEFF BURTON AND HAS TIME KIND OF HEALED THAT WOUND? “Gosh has it gone away? You said get ready for it; I have not seen it go away. If I put SPEED Channel on or ESPN it’s still there and has been since that incident. Yeah, I look at it and just chuckle about it now. I guess maybe you’re right that I might get asked a few more questions about it. No problem, it’s just kind of part of it. I still look back at the situation and have my opinion and I’m sure Jeff has his but I feel like we’ve moved on pretty well from it.”

IF YOU WERE GOING TO A NASCAR THEMED HALLOWEEN PARTY AND YOU COULD DRESS UP AS ANYONE YOU LIKE, CURRENT OR FORMER DRIVER, TEAM OWNER, MEDIA PERSONALITY, WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY? “I guess it would be Richard Petty because everybody would know who I was if I walked in with the sunglasses and cowboy hat on. I’d like to dress up as Junior Johnson but maybe if I put on some bib overalls but I’m not so sure everybody would know who I was. I don’t know it sounds like a fun party though. Let me know when you organize that and I will start working on my costume.” I’M WORKING ON IT RIGHT NOW. “It’s a little late just to let you know. I tend to lean toward the scarier costumes so I’m trying to think of who would be a scary person to dress up as. So I would take some suggestions.” ARE YOU TAKING YOUR KIDS TRICK-OR-TREATING? “Yeah I’m taking my kids trick-or-treating. I can’t wait, they are all excited. My wife has outdone herself. We’ve got a graveyard in the front year, skeletons. I have the only four-year-old and one-year-old in the neighborhood that doesn’t get scared to death when you walk through our entry to our house and all of sudden you’ve got witches screaming and goblins going off and all this stuff because that’s just what’s in our house. The kids from the neighborhood come over and it starts going off and they start screaming and running out the door. Halloween is a big thing around our house.”

DID YOU EVER DRESS UP AS SOMEONE GROWING UP THAT WAS KIND OF COOL OR SCARY; DO YOU HAVE A MEMORABLE HALLOWEEN COSTUME? “Yeah, but not dressed up as anybody. I was a one-night stand one year (laughter). I was a night stand, with like a lamp shade on my head.” YOU SAID A ONE NIGHT STAND. “I was a one night stand (laughing).” DID YOU HAVE A DATE? “Yes, it was my wife. She left a note on the night stand too.” WHICH SAID? “It said she had a good time.”