BEHIND THE HAULER CHAT WITH JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT MONTE CARLO SS: CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR MARRIAGE: "Thank you. It's been an awesome week. I've been very fortunate to meet a great girl and be able to get a second chance." WHAT MADE YOU ...
BEHIND THE HAULER CHAT WITH JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT MONTE CARLO SS:
CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR MARRIAGE: "Thank you. It's been an awesome week. I've been very fortunate to meet a great girl and be able to get a second chance."
WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO GET MARRIED NOW AND TO GO TO MEXICO TO DO IT? "I just wanted it to be private and small and intimate with friends. I can't say too much. You're going to have to read more about it next week in US Weekly. I gave them the exclusive."
WE (NASCAR MEDIA) FOLLOW YOU ALL AROUND THE COUNTRY. WHAT ABOUT US? "Oh, I'm sorry."
WHO DID YOU TELL? "I didn't tell anybody. It was really just family. Rick Hendrick was there but I consider him family. And it was Ingrid's (Vandebosch) family and that was it."
IS US WEEKLY GOING TO HAVE PICTURES TOO? "Yeah, we brought our own photographer down there. One of the biggest reasons why we did it is that we got contacted immediately when we announced the engagement by magazines and people wanting an exclusive on it. I'm not one to do things like that. But they wanted to make a contribution to the Jeff Gordon Foundation in order to do it and that's what sold us on it and allowed us to have control over it. We controlled the photographer and everything that they'd get access too."
AS A RACE CAR DRIVER WHO HAS SOLD HIS WEDDING PHOTOS TO US WEEKLY, IS THAT SURREAL TO YOU? "It is. I wasn't expecting to get all the phone calls and things from the different magazines. I think that going through the divorce and all that being public made it a little bit more news. All I know is that I'm happy and I'm excited. This is a great time in my life. We had an amazing week. Everything couldn't have been more perfect. It's really the way I wanted to do it. We're going to celebrate with all our other friends and family members that weren't able to be there later in the year."
WHAT WAS INGRID'S REACTION TO HONEYMOONING IN PHOENIX THIS WEEK? "She's a patient girl. She can wait. She knew what the schedule was. She's happy."
WITH NEXT YEAR'S BUSCH SERIES GOING TO MONTREAL, DOES A CHANCE TO RACE ON AN EXISTING F-1 TRACK ENTICE YOU AT ALL? "Yeah, I'd love to race at that race track. But when I look at the schedule and how those guys are going to have to do that, it seems pretty crazy to me to go back and forth like that. It's definitely something I will not do, but I'm jealous of the guys who get the opportunity to do it because I'd love to race on that track."
DOES IT SHOW HOW FAR NASCAR HAS COME WHEN A MAGAZINE WANT'S AN EXCLUSIVE ON A RACE CAR DRIVER'S WEDDING? "I'm blown away all the time with this sport and how it's grown. I'm very fortunate to have had success in this sport. I just never dreamed as a kid growing up that even if I ever made it to this level that it would be anything like it is. And then once I got here, to see how things have changed over the last 14 years and the growth outside of just pure racing and how the drivers and fans have this relationship and the attention that the personalities get beyond racing is pretty incredible."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE GIRL YOU MARRIED? "Yeah. You can't find too many Belgium girls. They usually stay in Belgium and settle down in Belgium. So I feel very fortunate that her type of upbringing and life that she's led compliments mine and I think mine compliments hers. Yes, she's glamorous, but she's very down to earth if you ever get to know her. She's shy. But she's somebody that when you get to know her, you just realize that she's a real person and she's very sweet and very loyal and just a great, great person."
DOES SHE PLAY FANTASY FOOTBALL? "No, but she knows what's going on because I feed her all the information whether I'm winning or I'm losing and she could probably care less. She acts like she's interested (laughs)."
YOU WERE THE FASTEST IN PRACTICE "Yeah, married life is treating me good so far. We had a good day. I feel like the team has really made good strides since we were here last time. And I feel like the car is really strong. We won practice and that's about it. Can't say anything else until we get through qualifying. But we drew a good number and we've got a good car and I'm excited to see where we end up."
JEFF BURTON SAID TONY STEWART IS THE BEST TEAM RIGHT NOW. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE WHAT HE'S BEEN ABLE TO DO IN THE PAST COUPLE OF WEEKS? "I wouldn't disagree with that. They've been solid and Tony has always been a solid driver. A lot of us are really thankful that they had whatever issues to keep them out of the Chase because he would kind of be embarrassing the rest of us. I expected them to be a real threat for the championship this year based on how they ran at certain times in the season and how they ran last year. So it's kind of a surprise they're not in the Chase, but it's no surprise they're running as good as they are."
DOES LESS PRESSURE HELP? "That does help. Everyone handles pressure in different ways. We found out that last year when we fell out of the Chase. We were just able to go out and focus and do our thing. There is something about being relaxed like that that allows you to go out and perform even better.
"That's what Tony (Stewart) has done. He's gotten the headlines. But he's not going to get the headlines when it's all over because the champion is going to get that. It just builds momentum for them for next year."
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS YOU CAN DO WHEN YOU'RE OUTSIDE OF THE CHASE THAT ARE DIFFERENT THAN BEING INSIDE THE CHASE? "You just don't get caught up in all the little details. Every little glitch and vibration and things you're like, who cares? Big deal. It's just not that pressure and tension that you carried in your stomach or on your shoulders or whatever it may be. When you're more relaxed, you concentrate better."
WITH HORNISH JR AND MONTOYA ARE IN THE BUSCH RACE TOMORROW, IS NASCAR WHERE YOU'VE JUST GOT TO BE NOW? "NASCAR is the most popular and the highest form of motorsports in America. There's no doubt about that. I don't think anybody ever questions that. Would they rather be driving a rear engine, high downforce, winged car? Probably. A lot of times all of us would. But stock cars are very competitive. They put on a great race. They're very difficult to drive. They're challenging. The fans and sponsors have caught on. You can't deny that. Sam (Hornish Jr.) and Juan (Pablo Montoya) have both accomplished just about everything they set out to do. I know Sam certainly has. Juan, if he had won a Formula One championship, that's about the only other thing he would have to check off his list. But they've accomplished everything and now here they are in their career with an opportunity to go and prove something else to themselves and everybody else; it's a new challenge. I think it's awesome. I think it's great."
DO YOU THINK WE'LL EVER SEE MICHAEL SCHUMACHER IN A ROAD COURSE RACE? "I don't know what kind of guy Schumacher is. But one of the things that impressed me the most about Juan's decision is that he had the guts enough to do something so different and know that the pressure and microscope he was going to be under, but yet he still was able to make that decision. I give him a lot of credit for doing that. If Schumacher was able to do that, it would only elevate him up in my book to a whole other level."
IS JIMMIE JOHNSON ANY DIFFERENT THIS YEAR? "None other than he's in a different position. The team has momentum. I don't really see where he's any different other than he's just in a better situation. In the past, he hasn't been close enough to control his destiny; where I think now he's more in control of it. The whole team is."
WHAT'S YOUR STRATEGY THIS WEEKEND? "Oh, I'm just thinking about going out and winning races. When you're as far behind in points as we are, you can't focus on the championship the way some of these other guys are. We've got to focus on just driving the wheels off the thing and taking risks and trying to win races. If something were to happen to those guys ahead of us, and in some way magically put us into position, then yeah, we go to Homestead and maybe race differently. But right now, we're not racing any different than we have been the last several weeks."
WHAT CITY IN MEXICO DID YOU GET MARRIED IN? "When you see it next week, you'll know it wasn't cheap."
DO YOU HAVE A TIMETABLE FOR HAVING CHILDREN AND HOW MIGHT THAT CHANGE YOUR MINDSET WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR CAREER? "You know what? I'm going to answer all those questions after next week. Let's get through next week.
"Let's just say that it was a beautiful, beautiful time with family in a beautiful place in Mexico and I'm glad I did it this week."
ON THE RACE THIS WEEKEND "We made a race run and it wasn't as good as we wanted it to be, but the car's got great potential and then we put it into qualifying mode and we were fast. But we've got to make a few adjustments to be fast after the pole. So we're obviously focused right now to get those adjustments made and then we're also thinking about what we're going to do to the car for tomorrow morning's practice."
ON THE HOMESTEAD TRACK "I love that track. We went down there and tested. It's going to be a really awesome race because the groove has moved all the way to the wall - and that was in testing. My only concern about Homestead is when they're starting the race we're going to have another Atlanta situation, which we had at Homestead last year, but the track's fantastic. We were decent. We need to be better, but we're decent."
WAS THERE A DECIDING MOMENT IN YOUR YEAR? "Chicago. Probably winning at Chicago. It was nice to get the win at Sonoma. And I think that gave us some confidence. But I think that win at Chicago - and maybe even just the run at Michigan, when we were running good; and then we were able to win at Chicago. It just gave us a whole different outlook on the direction we'd been going in with our set-ups and our race cars to really be good on those 1.5-mile tracks that we struggled so much on last year."
IF YOU COULD, IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WOULD TAKE BACK OR DO DIFFERENTLY THIS YEAR? "If I could do anything different, it would be in Talladega when I lost the lead there. I feel like we could have been in a little bit better position when the crash happened had I made a little bit different decision when we were leading, we might not have been so far back and been caught up in that wreck."
HOW HARD IS IT TO KEEP YOUR PRIVATE LIFE PRIVATE? "Well, I'm certainly no Tom Cruz or like any guy in the entertainment business that has a very difficult time. But I feel like the type of celebrity we have in this sport is the best kind. You get to live your life for the most part, but yet that's changing constantly. The sport is getting bigger and more popular and you do have to be somewhat guarded sometimes to maintain that privacy."
-credit: gm racing