Juan Pablo Montoya and Jeff Gordon Speed Demonstration Press Conference, June 11, 2003 Part 1 of 3 MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome. We are here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. My name is Mike King. I'm the anchor of ...
Juan Pablo Montoya and Jeff Gordon
Speed Demonstration Press Conference, June 11, 2003
Part 1 of 3
MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome. We are here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. My name is Mike King. I'm the anchor of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network, and I'll be your moderator. Juan is here, and we're only waiting on Jeff. I would like to ask, if you would, all check your cell phones or your pagers and turn those off if you would, please. That'd be great, or at least turn them to stun, whatever it is where we don't hear them while they're talking. We'll have about 15 or 20 minutes to spend with the guys, don't count on one-on-ones afterward is what I'm being told, so I want to try to get whatever we can. Here they are now. Jeff, good to see you. Juan, nice to see you. I would like to introduce some special guests that we have with us. From Hendrick Motorsports, Ken Howes, who is here, he's the director of competition, along with Jim Perkins, the CEO, the COO and the president of the Hendrick Automotive Group. They are with us here today, as is Robbie Loomis. Robbie is going to join us, as well as the crew chief of Jeff's No. 24 Dupont Chevy; and Mario Theissen, the BMW Motor Sports director is also here with us, as well, and so they will all be available following today's press conference if you'd like to speak with them. Gentlemen. Juan Pablo, you went out first in Jeff's car, why don't we get your reaction first. What was it like?
MONTOYA: It was really good, actually. When we did the picture at the start/finish line, I took the car around, and I started quite slow. And I was wondering, 'Oh, this must (inaudible) a lot,' and afterward when you get up to speed it'd be fine and it was very stable, a lot of power. And they said to me you got to brake like 250 meters or something. I'm like, 'No, it can't be.' And when I first braked there, I nearly missed the corner. On my third lap, I missed the corner. You know, your foot is on the brakes and it's like, slow. But, you know, it handles quite well in the corners. It's really good, especially in the higher-speed corners because it moves around a lot, and you can really play with it. You know, if you could put better brake into it, it would go a lot quicker.
GORDON: I tell them that every weekend.
MODERATOR: Jeff, when you shut down the engine there on the FW24 after your runs there at speed, you let out a pretty good yee-haw. You looked like you were pretty happy.
GORDON: I think that this should be considered the first annual Tradin' Paint session and we should do it every year, but not right before I get to go to Sears Point, though. I'm going to go to Sears Point in a couple weeks and not know what hit me. I can't even describe it. Juan and I talked about this before. It's like everything is opposite where, you know, he had to brake at the 250 and was like 'Whoo'. I was like, you know, went to the 100, you know, down in there and, like said, I can go so much further, you know, and I just couldn't get on the brakes hard enough. And the corner, I think the biggest thing once I started getting a little bit of speed going was that the corner comes up so fast because you can drive in so deep because of the braking power, and the first couple times that I actually tried to drive in there, I about missed the corner because it came up to fast. When you drive in there and you stand on that brake, you better be ready to down shift and turn, and that was something. I'm so used to, you know, brake, wait a little bit, downshift, downshift, OK, now it's time to turn, and it's the same. It's like a slot car almost. The more and more I drove it, you know, obviously the more fun that I had because the more comfortable I was with it, but I can't even describe. It's amazing. It's just like point and shoot. You just drive in there, stop, turn and just go to the throttle as hard as you can. He told me that, but I didn't believe him. I was like maybe you can do that, but I don't know if I can do that, and I found that just getting back to that throttle with the traction control and all that. And then, being able to do the launch there off the start-finish line, I'm thankful that the weather held out because to me it was just an awesome day, and I'm really thankful to get the opportunity. I know who got the better end of the deal.
MODERATOR: You know, these guys race here in September. You'll miss the race obviously, you're racing that weekend.
GORDON: I think we're in Kansas City, and we've talked about coming over. I'd even like to jump up to Canada this weekend on Saturday, but I don't think I'm going to be able to. But I've never seen them in person. I watch them on TV all the time, thank goodness for the SPEED Channel, and now when I watch them I'm just going to have a much greater appreciation because it's a very demanding car. You have to really push the limits, and then once you start, fine-tuning it, you know, we didn't really make any adjustments, but I can't imagine just the amount of thought that goes in and feel that goes into just fine-tuning it to get the balance where it needs to be. I'm sure they had it set up tight for me so I didn't back it into anything, which I was thankful for.
MODERATOR: We will have mikes on each side of the room. I want to remind you that Jeff and Juan Pablo represent four victories here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Jeff won the Brickyard 400 in 94, '98 and again in '01, and Juan Pablo won the 2000 Indianapolis 500. Deb's on this side. I'm on this side. Please wait for the microphone, once we get it to you because this press conference is being transcribed.
Q: Jeff, you look pretty good out there, you seemed to acquaint yourself very well. Any thoughts that you may have missed your calling? Would you like to have another serious shot at this?
GORDON: I'd like to have some more laps out there. I made some mistakes and did some things that I was happy with, but I think that a good race car driver adapts himself to the conditions, and I was -- that car is so well prepared by the Williams-BMW guys that it's easy to get in there and get comfortable, and luckily our seats matched up fairly well. I mean I fit in the car well. You know, but pushing the limits of the car definitely I could see where it takes a lot of experience behind the wheel of that thing and all the different courses and things that they go to. I have far too much respect and appreciation for what these guys do, you know, to know that Winston Cup is where it's at for me and that path is sort of chosen for me, and I'm very thankful for that. But to get the opportunity here today to do this fulfills really every desire and dream that I had. I can now say I've driven a Formula One car, which I couldn't say that yesterday.
Q: Juan, an IndyCar driver once said that a stock car doesn't accelerate, and it doesn't turn other than that it's a race car. After driving something so precise, did it take you a little bit of time to get used to something that was so heavy?
MONTOYA: No, it didn't actually. I was pretty amazed with that. I went out, and the only thing that really you got to learn is how far you can brake and how deep, how long you can stay on the brakes and everything. But, you know, cornering and everything, I built it up and it was like right there. You know, of course you can fine tune, all the guys in the Hendrick team came and changed the car for the second time I went out, improved the car. The car was very reactive to the changes. Something that really amazed me is you really got to do it, in the first lap it's built up. After that, you know, it just dies. It's amazing, you know, the first lap it really feels like it's got a lot of grip, you can really push it, and the second time you go through the same corner and you try the car at speed and it's like -- it's something that I thought was really cool. In the F1, especially around here, all the far corners are floored easily, they're not a big deal. Whereas in the NASCAR you go in and it's like you go, you go and you got to lift and, you know, the visual effect that in a way you're not feeling going that quick because the speed they corner through the F1, but the car is like moving and something I really like the car gave me a lot of feedback. You know, like in the oval you have to be here what you call tight. That is just a bit of push and if the rear goes you're in the wall. Where this one, on one of the laps I went through Turn 1 and it's like, 'Oh,' and start sliding, but it's like 'Oh, you know, you can keep it there a little bit.' I like that.
Q: Question for Jeff. When you did a little bit of lawn mowing there, what was going through your mind?
GORDON: Well, I think it was due to Chris Economaki because he told me if I didn't go off or spin out, then I wasn't pushing hard enough, so I wanted to make Chris happy. But down that back straightaway, and it was actually one of the first laps that I made, and it sort of going back to me talking about the corner coming up really fast. It's not that I drove in super deep. I just didn't slow the car down fast enough, and so I realized that I carried a little bit too much speed in there and I went back to the brake and there's a little bit of a bump as you turn that corner to the left, and I sort of did all that stuff at the wrong time, and it just popped the back end around, and I just corrected and had to go off in the grass. They are great on the pavement. They're not very good in the grass. My car will kill that thing in the grass, OK. So, you know, I was just really, really glad, I learned a very valuable lesson right from the beginning, and then from then on I never even had a problem in there. I realized that I just had to use the brakes so much harder than I could ever imagine and get the downshifts, you know, right away. Like I say, it's just about being prepared. When you go to the brakes, you better be prepared for that thing to slow down in a hurry and to turn whatever way that corner is.
Q: You guys were roughly I guess unofficially about a second off each other's time as far as Juan in the stock car and you in his car. Are you impressed with that, A, to be able to just hop in that thing and be that fast; and, B, do you think you could excel in each other's series?
GORDON: I mean I think that well-prepared teams and cars have a lot to do with it, but we're -
GORDON: Yeah, we're race car drivers that we obviously have gotten to the level that we're at for a reason, and I think Juan's one of the best road racers out there, and I think that the teams that we have today are two of the best out there, too, in their own field, so in some ways I was expecting him to be faster than me in the stock car.
MONTOYA: You're crazy.
GORDON: I didn't know what to expect with the Formula One car. I think that that last second in a Formula One car and the last second in a stock car is the big difference.
MONTOYA: Normally when the car is well prepared, you know, they said to me, they asked me how close it's going to be. I said easily within two seconds he's going to be because to get to that point the car is so predictable and for me it was the same thing. I went out understand straight away I was within, you know, two seconds.
GORDON: We were at 39 something the first time, so.
MONTOYA: And, you know, it wasn't that difficult. Because the car was good, and when the car is good, the cars are so well prepared it's not like you get into a -- doing this with a new car that they don't even know how to run it. These cars are well prepared, probably the setup is in my car is what I raced last year. It's the same car I raced last year here.
GORDON: I would make two comments to that and that, that's one is getting that extra speed to really be competitive has got to be a lot of time and experience, but being out there just like being out there with 42 other stock cars, I can't imagine being out there with 15 other guys in a F1 car driving down into Turn One and everybody's three wide trying to outbrake one another. That's where I could see the difference really, really coming in there for me. I mean being able to get a feel for the car, that came fairly quickly, but taking it to that next level and being out there with other cars -- I'm just glad I was able to do what I did.
Q: Whose idea was this ride and, in review, your comparison between your expectations from what you thought and your respective rides?
GORDON: Do you know whose idea this was?
GORDON: All I know is Rick Hendrick called me one day, I know that he's friends with some folks at BMW, and this was last year when we were talking about doing this last year and it just didn't work out with our schedules. And it was a lot to put together, and then I forgot about it basically, and all of a sudden somebody said, 'Hey, you know, this year' they said, 'You still interested in doing it?' And I said, 'Absolutely.' And I was just thankful that Juan and the Williams BMW team could put it together, and that Dupont and Hendrick and everybody were wanting to put it together, too. So when there's a will, there's a way, and somebody had a great idea and talked to Indianapolis about hosting it, putting it together, so I'm not sure who those people were.
MONTOYA: They told me, 'Well, you want to do this?' I said, 'Yeah, let's do it.'