JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Bristol Motor Speedway and discussed Carl Edwards/Brad Keselowski situation, self-policing, the economy and other topics. ON HOW PRACTICE WENT THIS MORNING... "It was ...
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Bristol Motor Speedway and discussed Carl Edwards/Brad Keselowski situation, self-policing, the economy and other topics.
ON HOW PRACTICE WENT THIS MORNING... "It was definitely an interesting practice. We started off in race trim. Some elements weren't suiting the DuPont Chevrolet too well, so we had to make some changes big there and try some different things in qualifying trim. Still, by the end of practice it felt like we had gained a lot. We ran a decent lap, so we'll see what we've got for qualifying."
AT THE END OF THE RACE YOU WON'T SEE THAT WING ANYMORE. ARE YOU GOING TO VOLUNTEER TO HELP TAKE THE WING OFF, OR DID YOU KIND OF GET ADAPTED TO USING THE WING? "I never had a big issue with the wing. I guess it wasn't mounted on the car the way that wings on racecars should be mounted, but that wasn't that big of a deal. I'm looking forward to the spoiler and using that on the car because I think we're going to have more down force. It helps with our valence, as well--that's good. The fans like it--that's good. I see a lot of positives, so I am looking forward to that."
DO YOU THINK THE SPOILER WILL MAKE AN IMPACT ON THE QUALITY OF RACING? "We won't really know until we get out there and race. The thing is at Talladega, in my opinion, you only see a great race [referring to the Talladega test]. The conditions that we have make it really pretty easy to pass. It's interesting when you go through our different series and go back in time, and when it was harder to pass people said 'oh, well there's not as much passing, and the races at Talladega weren't exciting.' Now it's really easy to pass, and you look at the [NASCAR Camping World] Truck Series and say, 'Wow, look at these races they put on.' It is really easy to pass, and then because it's a 500-mile race, we get single file through the middle of the race trying to make it 500 miles, and then it's a boring race.
"To me, the conditions are conducive to great racing and side-by-side racing. We're going to see a lot [of passing] because the ability to pass is there, but we still need to make it 500 miles. So while I thought what we started with at Talladega was a little aggressive, I still think no matter what it is going to be great racing. For Charlotte, and coming up in Martinsville, I don't think it will be a huge change, but I still think that it will be better racing."
LOOKING AHEAD TO TEXAS AND NOW THAT YOU HAVE WON AT TEXAS, HOW DOES THAT CHANGE YOUR OUTLOOK ON THE TRACK AND DO YOU THINK YOU HAVE A CHANCE AT A REPEAT? "The win definitely has given us some confidence when we go to Texas. We know what we need to go faster. We certainly had the car dialed in to qualify there, which is big at Texas and definitely affects your chances to win there. The last time we were there we weren't that great, and what we had to begin with there last year didn't make us as competitive as we needed to be, and that's just the competition getting better. It's still the same old Texas, but if our cars keep driving the way that they have been driving this year, especially at the bigger tracks, then I think we have a chance at winning there."
HOW DO YOU RATE THIS TRACK AS FAR AS TRACK POSITION BEING CRITICAL, AND ALSO THE DIFFICULTY OF PITTING HERE UNDER GREEN WITH COMING DOWN JUST ONE PIT ROAD? "Well for the track position, before they re-did the track I felt like this was maybe number one or two as far as track position being important. When they re-did the track and made it better, in my opinion, they made a multiple groove race track and if you had a fast racecar you had options to get underneath somebody or go to the outside of somebody. So it wasn't on the top of the list of track position. Now with added wall and SAFER Barrier there going off of the corners, which I still have to find Bruton, it's not like to him to run out of money halfway through a project and just end it like at the start/finish line. I got to give him a hard time about that; I think they should've taken it all the way down the straightaways. That's going to certainly make track position a little bit more challenging here. I'll take track position anywhere we go these day. I think it's always important at every track. The competition has gotten better. These cars punch a pretty big hole in the air even at a short track, and so track position is just a theme of racing in general throughout the U.S. and the world. It's just that track position means more these days because we've learned so much about aerodynamics.
"Obviously pitting under green here is a real challenge for me. I don't know if it's as big of a challenge for other guys as it is for me. It is a place where you get into a rhythm with 15 second laps, or 16 second laps. Your mind gets so focused on the next corner that it's very easy to lose track of what you need to do under green versus what you need to do under caution. I've had some challenges with it; luckily, not lately. It's certainly not a track that you want to pit at under green, regardless of what changes how it changes with the one pit road versus two pit roads and all that stuff."
TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE RACING WITH THE SPOILER VERSUS THE WING AND HOW IT PRODUCES BETTER RACING. AT A TRACK LIKE MARTINSVILLE WHERE IT'S SUCH A TIGHT TRACK, HOW MUCH OF A CHANGE DO YOU EXPECT TO SEE? "If we want a good story, the spoiler is a fix-all to this car, and we're going to have awesome racing and it is going to be amazing. I can say that, but until we go out there and race, I don't know. In the wind tunnel it's not that big of a difference, but it might be huge in the racing aspect of it; I don't know. We've never had a spoiler on this car, so you don't know if this car is punching a big hole because of the greenhouse and the rear bumper, or just how it moves air over it, or if it's the wing.
"I think that Martinsville is a safe place to put it on because it is one of our slowest tracks. We know that aerodynamics don't play as big of a role there and we can kind of test is out there. I think that from a down force standpoint, we're going to have more down force on the car and it will make the drivers a little bit happier because we'll have a little more grip. But is that going to make the racing better? I just don't know."
I KNOW THAT YOU'RE A BIT OF AN NBA FAN, AND THAT YOU'VE GONE TO GAMES BEFORE. DO YOU GO TO MANY BOBCATS GAMES? WITH JORDAN BECOMING THE CONTROLLING OWNER THIS WEEK, I'M JUST WONDERING WOULD YOU BE MORE INCLINED TO GO THAT HE'S A PART OF IT? "I'm friends with Bob Johnson, so I would go and support him just as much as I'd support Michael. I do like the NBA. I think you're going to support them more because they have a better team. If that's because of Michael, great! Obviously somebody is getting in there and making some changes and improvements. The team seems to be more competitive which is cool, especially if they make the playoffs. I have not been [to a game] lately to be honest with you, but I would like to. I just need to find the games that fit with when I'm in town. They have always treated me great. They have NASCAR night over there, and being in Charlotte it's something that I know a lot of the teams and drivers and people around Charlotte certainly support, so I support them as well. I hope I get the opportunity to go to more games. When you have Michael Jordan as the owner that certainly is a positive because everybody respects him and looks at his success and what kind of a person he is. So I definitely think that's a plus. If it just so happens to work out, coincidence or not, that the team seems to be performing better at the time that Michael Jordan takes over that's a win-win for the team, and for Charlotte."
A LOT OF YOUNG DRIVERS COME IN BRASH, COCKY, MAYBE RUFFLE SOME FEATHERS AND THEN THERE'S A MOMENT WHEN SOMEBODY TEACHES THEM A LESSON--HOW YOU REALLY DRIVE AT THIS LEVEL. WHEN WAS THAT MOMENT FOR YOU? "Phoenix,1993. Dale Earnhardt, Sr. and me backing into the wall. Yeah, I remember it well. At the time I was pretty mad, and didn't think I was deserving of it. About six years later I was like, now I get it. You know? I was racing way too hard for 10th place, too early in the race, and I had it coming to me. It was the perfect time to teach me a lesson from the best guy to do it. I never forgot it, obviously, but I did learn from it."
"Sometimes you can get away with that stuff as a rookie. I think every rookie goes through moments whether it's just getting beat, or somebody takes them to school in a way that shows them something that they didn't know, or knocks them out the way, or points their finger out the window, or whatever. I'm not sure which finger I was pointing out the window at Kasey that day, but it worked. I think every rookie goes through that, and that's what makes being a rookie so tough. You feel the pressure. You feel out of your element.
"You're not sure if you belong there or if you have what it takes. You're going though these lessons that you don't want to go through, you don't like going through them, but it's necessary. It makes you a better driver, and it's what everybody has to go through. If there's a rookie that comes in and doesn't go through that will you let me know so we can make sure he doesn't get through the season clean?"
YOU'RE A DRIVER THAT IS IN GREAT SHAPE. BUT AFTER 500 LAPS AROUND THIS PLACE, HOW OFTEN DO YOU LEAVE HERE FEELING LIKE YOU'VE HAD IT? "Yeah, this place will take it out of you, for sure. It depends on how many green flag laps there are and how hot it is, but this place is grueling. It's fast and you really pull a lot of G's. It's been awhile since I've really felt fatigued here because we've had a lot of cautions. If we really ran a lot of green flag laps this place would kick your butt more than any other track, other than maybe a road course. Road courses I think are probably the hardest, a place like Watkins Glen especially. It's fast and there aren't as many cautions. You're turning left and right; downshifting, braking, doing all those things, you're using everything. Plus we're turning right and we not used to turning right. To me, Watkins Glen is the toughest and I'd say that this is the second."
HOW ABOUT YOUR HEAD, IS YOUR NECK SORE AFTERWARD OR DO YOU LEAVE WITH A HEADACHE? "Yeah, I mean if I didn't have a headrest that supports my head, my head would be laying out of the right side window. But I pad the right side up, so I can hold it and support it better. You're already using enough muscles and taking a lot of out yourself. There's no reason if you don't have to, other than just to be cool, for you need to use up all of your neck muscles when you have the support there to relax it and focus on other things."
BEYOND THE ROOKIE HAZING, WHEN IS ENOUGH, ENOUGH THAT YOU TAKE FROM A FELLOW COMPETITOR. WHEN THAT SWITCH BETWEEN WHAT IS REALISTIC JUST EMOTION TAKES OVER AND YOU CROSS THE THRESHOLD BETWEEN CONTROL AND BUDDY, IT'S GAME ON? "Well there's respect, and there's disrespect. If somebody does something and pushes you out the way, or does something that is sort of a hey rookie, this is your lesson. Then you kind of give them that. But if it happens over and over again, then you realize that this person isn't respecting me and if I continue to let them get away with that then they're never going to respect me. Then you kind of get to your limit and you have to push and shove back. Even with the hazing as you call it of a rookie, they're still trying to accomplish the same thing that the rest of us are out there and you can only get away with so much."
THIS TRACK HAS PRODUCED SOME REALLY GOOD MOMENTS AMONG RIVALS, CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT WHAT THAT LENDS TO A TRACK LIKE THIS. AND NOW THAT YOU LOOK BACK ON THOSE MOMENTS, AND THE MOMENTS THAT YOU WERE INVOLVED IN, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS? "Well that's what makes Bristol so great, and that's why the fans love it here. It's to see those moments that have happened for so many years, people pushing and shoving. The one thing that I will say with recent developments, you come to a place like Bristol and those incidents used to be points and fines when I felt that they weren't really necessary. There might be times when those are necessary, but this is one of those tracks where it's easy for people's tempers to get the best of them, the close action to cause those things and it's moments that we all remember. You don't want to take those away because the guy is sitting there worried, 'Well I don't want to get those points taken away, I'm going to miss the chase.' So that's why I like what NASCAR is doing right now, and while the thing at Atlanta was questionable because of him going upside down, those types of things are going to happen here. They have set the tone of ok guys, go race, go show us the things that have made Bristol and our sport famous and that's what makes the fans excited. So I think they're in for a real treat this weekend."
-source: gm racing