Jeff Gordon - Infineon Friday Media Visit

By Team Chevy

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET met with members of the media at Infineon Raceway and discussed importance of qualifying, road racing and other topics.

HOW IS YOUR CAR SO FAR?: “Practice was interesting. The track is definitely hard to get a hold of. We ran a couple race runs and then we put in the qualifying trim. Lacking a little bit of speed and grip there. We made a big gain there on that last run. If we can make another gain like that for this qualifying session, we’ll be alright.”

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

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

HOW IMPORTANT IS QUALIFYING HERE?: “I think on a road course, it’s probably more important than anywhere else we go. You probably heard nothing but how important track position everywhere is that we’ve been going. It tells you that it’s huge here. If you don’t have track position then everybody kind of goes in that mindset then we work on pit strategy. That’s not a fun way to run this race. It’s really, truly about track position. I think more so on this track than on any other, usually track position does have more of an indication of how much speed is in your car compared to ovals where you can make your car a lot better in the race. If you qualify bad at some places like ovals, then you can still be a good car for the race. Here, it’s usually a pretty good indication of what kind of speed you have as a driver and as a car where you qualify.”

WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER ABOUT LAST YEAR’S RACE?: “Disaster. It was just one of those terrible days where I made a lot of mistakes, no doubt made a lot of people unhappy and been trying to move on from it ever since. Thanks for bringing it up though.”

HOW DO YOU EXPECT THOSE PEOPLE TO RACE YOU ON SUNDAY?: “I’ve tried to apologize to the ones that I really made mistakes with. There were some racing incidents that went on that day too that was just racing and that you just move on and race one another however you race one another. I have to approach the race the same way I do any other race and just go out there and do everything I can to get the best finish I can. Not put too much effort into thinking about what those guys have planned or whatever. I’m sure if they’re in a position to kind of get back what happened then I’m sure they will. My goal this weekend is not to allow myself to get in that position.”

HOW MUCH MORE AGGRESSIVE DO YOU HAVE TO BE AT INFINEON?: “It’s just different kind of aggressiveness. You’re talking about aggressive braking and driving into the corner hard and really getting the car slowed down and out-braking other cars with the down shifts. In that sense, you have to be aggressive when you’re passing somebody or trying to prevent somebody from being passed. The rest of this track is about not being aggressive. This is a very finesse race track. There is just a couple areas that you can drive deep in the corner. The rest of them it’s about not making mistakes. I think coming into turn 11, yeah, you can be aggressive there, but other than that you have to be careful being aggressive here.”

HOW IS YOUR PERFORMANCE THIS SEASON IMPACT HOW YOU APPROACH THIS RACE?: “We’ve had quite a bit of confidence coming in here. We had a good test at Mid-Ohio and just had this second win in Pocono. We feel like we’ve really improved our program. We really focused on short tracks over the off season and now as we’ve gotten in the season, more mile and a half program. What I love about this team is when they go to work on an area, they’ve gotten results. We, as a team have shown those results in the progress. We’re working on the road courses and right now I’m looking at it and saying that we’re not quite there yet, but we’ll see where we end up this weekend and then really, truly evaluate it.”

HOW SHOULD THE COMPETITION LOOK AT YOU THIS WEEKEND?: “I don’t think you can ever count us out. We’re fighters. We never – we go out there to put the fastest race cars on the track we can. I think this is one of those tracks where practice is not always the best indication of where everything is at. I think there’s no doubt we’ve lost a little bit on the road courses. We’re going to work real hard all weekend long to get that back. We still have plenty of time to do that. I think anybody knows that if we get ourselves in position up front that we are definitely a team that can win this race.”

DO YOU STILL FEEL LIKE YOU’RE THE KING OF INFINEON?: “I think right now there’s definitely a couple guys that I would say are really dominating the road courses and I think those guys are the ones that I would focus on if I was – it’s certainly who I’m focused on. That’s (Marcos) Ambrose, (Tony) Stewart, Juan Pablo Montoya – Kurt Busch is always pretty strong on road courses and he looks good here today. Those are guys that I would say right now because to me it’s only about what you’ve done lately. Our stats are great and we come in here with confidence and we love the road courses, but I don’t think we’re the car to beat right now. I hope that’s different on Sunday.”

DO YOU HAVE TO RACE INFINEON WITH A SHORT TRACK MENTALITY?: “What happens is now double-fie restarts definitely ramp up the aggressiveness. There’s preferred lines and then there’s basically being offline. If you happen to get put in position where you’re offline then you’re going to fight, claw, scratch for everything you possibly can. Especially in the closing laps. There’s no doubt in the closing laps, if you get caution flags, it’s as aggressive or more aggressive than a short track.”

ARE YOU MORE LIKELY TO TAKE A CHANCE HERE WITH THE AGGRESSIVENESS?: “Anytime you take more risk and you heighten the aggressiveness, you’re more chance to make mistakes. Plus this is a track where there’s two passing zones and so you want to take advantage of those areas when you’re in them. That’s going into seven and 11. Now what guys have done is because on the restarts you get kind of stacked up and guys start blocking that move and prevent you from making and that gets frustrating over time. Eventually somebody’s going to have to react in a different way to make the pass work if they’re a lot faster than that car ahead of them.”

IS THIS THE MOST IMPORTANT TRACK TO WIN THE POLE?: “I think they’re all important, but I think the road courses are extremely important. I think track position is probably more important here than anywhere else and I think being on the pole proves more about what kind of car you have. More so than other tracks we go to. When you’re on an oval, for whatever reason, you can qualify on the pole and still be a 15th or 20th place car. You can qualify 35th and be a winning car. On the road course, it’s not usually like that. You don’t usually see or find a guy that qualifies 30th or 35th here and all of the sudden he finds a second and a half in the race.”

WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE A THIRD ROAD COURSE IN THE SEASON AND WHICH COURSE?: “Sure, that would be great. I love the road courses. I love the two that we have and I guess if you want to look at a complete championship – we have short track, superspeedway, intermediates and why not have a road course in there. I’ve always dreamed about racing at Laguna Seca and that’s one of the premiere road courses in the country, but I don’t see that happening. That’s more of a dream.”

WHAT HAS NORTHERN CALIFORNIA DONE FOR YOUR CAREER?: “I never raced at Sonoma in my entire life I lived here. I wasn’t road racing so this was all foreign to me. Everything else around here, Sunnyvale, Hayward and even moving down south into Pomona – that’s where racing was at for me. Watching sprint car races as well as doing the quarter midget racing and go-kart racing myself. If it weren’t for those opportunities and those race tracks and the kids I raced with and my parents getting me into it, I certainly wouldn’t be standing here racing at this track.”

WHAT DID YOU LEARN AT THE DAYTONA 500 TO USE NEXT WEEK?: “Just the bump drafting. That you can push all the way around the race track now. I think when we go back to Daytona, it will be about the temperature, the track and whether the grip has gone away at all and whether we can still do that. I’m expecting – right now I’m expecting us to be able to do that so it’s going to be about finding a partner, a drafting partner to work with and me and Mark (Martin) obviously worked well together at Talladega so we’ll have to look at maybe going that same route for Daytona.”

DO YOU ENJOY THE TWO-CAR DRAFTING?: “You know it’s not really about whether you have an opinion or like it, it’s just the way it is. If you want to be good and have a shot at winning, then you have to learn how to do it well. You have to learn how to cool the engine and you’ve got to find somebody that you can stick with and they can stick with you all day to be there at the end to win the race.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH SCOTT PRUETT?: “I’m a huge Scott Pruett fan. One of the things growing up around this area when I did race go-karts, which I didn’t do a lot of go-kart racing, but when you did and you went to the race track and Scott Pruett was there, he was like a legend. You just looked up to him like he was the ultimate. To see what he’s done through his career and still to this day be one of the premiere road racers in the world in my opinion and he’s a great guy. To me, I kind of knew we probably weren’t going to need a fill in driver, but I just to me, if you’re going to have one, why not have the best. I definitely had one of the best road racers standing in for me if we did need him.”

HAVE YOU TRIED SCOTT PRUETT’S WINE YET?: “We talked a lot about wine. I haven’t had his wine yet, but I hear it’s good.”

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags chevrolet, hendrick, sonoma

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