JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Infineon Raceway and discussed how he learned to road race, his daughter and birthday, concerns about his back, the difference between Infineon and Watkins Glen, and...
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Infineon Raceway and discussed how he learned to road race, his daughter and birthday, concerns about his back, the difference between Infineon and Watkins Glen, and more.
HOW HAS IT BEEN SO FAR TODAY? "It's been pretty crazy out there. A lot of great road racers and the guys that haven't been known as road racers are all stepping up their game as well. Marcos (Ambrose) who was fastest there we know that he's a great road racer so it's going to be interesting to see how it all unfolds this weekend."
YOUR SUCCESS IN ROAD COARSES IS OBVIOUSLY GREAT, HOW DID YOU LEARN ABOUT IT? "You know I just was interested in it and excited about it. I did a little bit of go-kart racing when I was younger on some road racing but very, very little. Even though I grew up in Vallejo I never even came out here to what used to be Sears Point at the time so I knew very little about road racing. When I got into the Nationwide Series I ran Watkins Glen and really love dirt and was pretty quick. I think prior to that I went to a Skip Barber school. I went to Bob Bondurant maybe a year later in Phoenix. I also came out here and did a school here before I came here for the very first time for a Cup race. I don't remember if it was Jim Russell, what the school was back then at the time but I was actually with a couple of other Cup drivers just learning the track and making laps. But I feel like most of the credit goes to the team. They've always provided me with a really good car. Of course the first year that I came I was in the tire wall almost upside down. We had to get the back-up car out and back then we really didn't have back-up road course cars. When we brought the back-up out it was like my Martinsville car and I learned real quick you do not want to get the back-up car out. That was the old course as well. I don't know. I think I just enjoyed it. I enjoyed the challenge. The team is great. The little bit of schooling that I went to certainly didn't hurt but nothing can train you for driving these big heavy cars around a tight road course like Sonoma."
CAN YOU TELL US WHAT IT'S LIKE COMING OUT HERE RACING IN FRONT OF YOUR FAMILY AND WITH YOUR DAUGHTER'S BIRTHDAY COMING UP? "This is a very special weekend and it always has been just because this is one of the rare times, I've been racing so hard, so long, so many years and days and very little of that racing ever brought me this close to home once we moved away from California. It's a great opportunity every year to get to see my friends and family that are still out here. We started doing a little event several years ago to just try to bring everybody together the day before the race. Then I got married, new baby and everything and that was her birthday weekend when she was born. Now it only makes it that much more special. And its Father's Day this weekend too. It's really turned into something special.
"We're going to have a great birthday party and she's actually going to know what it is this year and enjoy it. Last year she didn't really quite understand it. That one is what they say is for the parents, the first year.
"She keeps saying happy birthday to Ella, happy birthday to Ella. Of course she's gone to some other kids birthday parties so she's been looking forward to and pretty excited about her birthday party coming up."
HOW WILLYOUR BACK HOLD UP ON THIS COURSE? "This is definitely a track that' been on my radar to have concerns about. We did a test at Road Atlanta a couple of weeks ago and I was pretty happy with the way things were. I actually had some issues shifting like up shifting which I was surprised about. Come to find out that transmission that we had, we had to change what we call the D10 in it that creates a little bit more friction as you pull it into gear. It really locks it into gear a little bit better so we loosened that up and made it a little bit easier to shift. I've been expecting to have more issues braking and today we just made single-lap runs with no issues. Tomorrow we'll make longer runs and I'll be able to know a little bit more."
GIVE ME A DECENT COMPARE AND CONTRAST OF THIS ROAD COURSE TO WATKINS GLEN. "I always like to say this is the Martinsville to Bristol combination of road courses. This track you really have to be careful attacking the track. You have to have a lot of finesse, be smooth and not make mistakes, which is very easy to do. There's just a lot of left, right, left very few high speed areas of this race track. Watkins Glen you just really get after it hard on the throttle. You've got a lot of full-throttle running in the straightaways at that track plus the corners that we have are pretty fast. They're really night and day just like Martinsville and Bristol are."
LATER ON THIS YEAR YOU'RE GOING TO BE RAFFLING OFF YOUR CORVETTE AGAIN TO BENEFIT THE JEFF GORDON FOUNDATION AND ALSO SPEEDWAY CHILDREN'S CHARITIES, THAT IS KIND OF A COOL THING AND I KNOW YOU ENJOY SEEING PEOPLE'S FACES WHEN THEY FIND OUT THEY WON YOUR CAR. "I think it's one of the coolest moments I have all year. We've been able to do some great things with the money that we've raised from that program. We've been doing it several years now. Not only is it exciting to get to hand the keys over to that individual whoever they may be and know how excited they are that they that they're getting a Corvette for a $100 raffle ticket but they know what they're doing on the other side of it which is really helping out children. Then to see the organizations that we have been able to benefit and those children it's just a win-win for everybody. We gave away the Corvette a few years back to a lady actually out of California, I don't remember the exact town. I don't think she even had a drivers license and I'm not sure she ever drove but she was so excited and her kids, nieces and nephews were driving her around town in her Corvette and there was a big story in the paper and everything about her. She turned into a local hero. There's a lot of story lines that come along with it but it's been a fantastic program for us with the Jeff Gordon Foundation."
GENERAL MOTORS SPOKE TO RICK (HENDRICK) SAYING THERE'S GOING TO BE CUT BACKS COMING UP, WHAT DO YO USEE THE CUT BACKS AT HMS AND DID RICK TALK TO YOU ABOUT WHAT THE FUTURE IS GOING TO HOLD? "I haven't had a chance to catch up with him. I was testing in Indianapolis. I had one day at home then came out here yesterday so I've not had a chance. We obviously knew there were going to be cutbacks with the Nationwide program which Hendrick is part owner with JR Motorsports on and we expected there to be some cutbacks with Hendrick Motorsports and all of the Chevrolet teams as well. What extent that is, I have no idea. I don't know what they are in any way, shape or form so I really can't comment on it at this time. Sorry."
YOU HAD GREAT SUCCESS HERE WITH THE OLD CAR, HAVE YOU LOST A LITTLE BIT OF THE ADVANTAGE YOU HAD WHEN THEY WENT TO THE CAR OF TOMORROW AND IS THAT CAR EASIER TO DRIVE ON A ROAD COURSE? "Yes. Yes we've lost some advantage that we had coming to this car. Yes that old car was easier to drive on the road course. This one is very challenging. Some of it is about learning this car. Like I said we built this car new and we built it a little bit different as well and that seems to be helping. For whatever reason the last couple of years we've just not had the speed. I haven't had the comfort. A lot of it is in the braking zones to really be able to get the speed out of the car that you really need at this track. While I say you have to have a lot of finesse and be smooth with this track, you still have to attack those few braking zones that you have and this car right now seems to be able to do that so I'm pretty excited about that. It just seems to really be symmetrical left to right so I'm happy about that. The speed seems to be good. I'm hoping that we've got it back but whatever we were missing I hope we've got it back and we can back up the times that we ran in practice when we go out here and qualify and keep it going tomorrow. Yeah the old car we had that car dialed in really good and I think we won the last race here with the old car. Ever since we've struggled a little bit even though we finished third here last year."
ELLA KNOWS IT'S HER BIRTHDAY COMING UP, HOW LONG IS HER WISH LIST AND WHAT'S ON IT? "I don't think she's quite grasped that part yet and I'm sure the list will be very long when she does. I think really it's not about gifts for her. She's got a pretty good life. She gets to enjoy a lot of things. It's really more about just the party and bringing people together. Right now the things I've seen her enjoy the most is just being around people and getting comfortable enough to entertain them so I think that's going to be her gift and her gift to us at the same time is just being able to put a party together, have a cake and a lot of friends and family to enjoy. I'll be honest we didn't get her a gift, we got her a party. To say the least her list that's as long as it is at our home. What other people do I hope they don't bring any gifts. We've told them not to but I can't control that. Yeah, I'm sure once she can make a list its going to be long. We're going to have to cut it down."
LAST NIGHT, FOTA SAID THEY'RE NOT GOING ALONG WITH THE FIA. ARE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT A SERIES THAT HAS A SPLIT? "Oh, yeah. I don't see how you have a Formula I Series without a Ferrari in it. I can't imagine the series out there without Ferrari or McLaren or Renault. They have so few teams as it is now, I would be very, very disappointed to see that happen. I really hope they get it straightened out. I've never seen that work for any sport out there and my fingers are crossed that they're going to get together and I'm going to enjoy every moment I can of the British Grand Prix this weekend and all the rest of the Grand Prix races coming up this year."
-credit: gm racing