JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS met with media and discussed Jimmie Johnson and the Chase, the Jeff Gordon Foundation Corvette Raffle in Texas, the yellow line rule, and more. Full Transcript: ON NOT BEING ABLE TO QUALIFY DUE TO RAIN: "We...
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS met with media and discussed Jimmie Johnson and the Chase, the Jeff Gordon Foundation Corvette Raffle in Texas, the yellow line rule, and more. Full Transcript:
ON NOT BEING ABLE TO QUALIFY DUE TO RAIN: "We tested so good here and had a great qualifying run, so I was pretty excited about qualifying tonight and maybe a shot at the pole."
WILL IS AFFECT THE RACE ON SATURDAY NIGHT? "No, it won't affect things a whole lot for us. We'll be starting in the top 10 regardless and the weather looks pretty good for the next couple of days. As long as we get some track time tomorrow we'll be in good shape."
IS IT JIMMIE JOHNSON'S CHAMPIONSHIP TO LOSE RIGHT NOW, OR IS THAT OVERSIMPLIFYING IT? "They've got a fantastic shot at it but I think that's oversimplifying it as good as Carl (Edwards) and Greg (Biffle) have started the Chase, and especially as good as Carl has been all season, those guys are not going to go down without at fight. I think a lot of other guys like ourselves that are going to put up a big fight too. And just like what happened at Talladega. That can happen at Charlotte. It can happen at Martinsville. It can happen anywhere. It's about avoiding those situations and Jimmie did a phenomenal job of at Talladega. If they can avoid those situations, it's going to be hard for those guys to make up those kind of points on him."
IS THAT YOUR PARTICULAR MINDSET RIGHT NOW, WHERE ONE BAD RACE BY GUYS IN FRONT OF US AND ONE GOOD RACE FOR US AND WE'RE RIGHT BACK IN IT? "Well, we're not that far out of second. We're quite a ways out of first, but we're not that far out of second. So we've got to put some numbers out there and get those top fives and hopefully get that win that we've been looking for all year and we can handle 150 points. But 230, that's a little tougher."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR CORVETTE RAFFLE IN TEXAS "Oh, yes...thank you. We're excited. I think it's just a very cool opportunity to do a fund-raiser this way, to give the fans an opportunity to be involved in the Jeff Gordon Foundation and help kids, and be able to walk away with or drive away in my own personal Corvette Z06. The raffle tickets are $100. You go to jeffgordonfoundation.org or jeffgordon.com and purchase them there, and it's been very, very successful. We'll be handing the keys over. I pay all the taxes and licensing fees or whatever fees there are that first year, we'll take care of it and they're good to go."
DOES THAT CAR HAVE ANY STORIES? "Well, it's an awesome car and we'll always have fun when we get the new one and we check it out. We've designed it different with the paint scheme and the interior and I drive it around Charlotte and you know, I'm pretty easy on it. I've got to see how much power it's got. I've got to buzz the tires just a little bit. Those cars are so great that they're a lot of fun. But I feel like, for me, I put pretty easy miles on it because I want somebody to get that car and feel like it's a brand new car."
ON THE YELLOW LINE RULING AND THE OUTCOME OF THE TALLADEGA RACE "Well, the rule is pretty clear in my opinion. You don't go below the yellow line and advance your position. I think what's vague is the ruling on being forced below the yellow line. They are a lot more hesitant to rule against a guy forcing you below the yellow line. You pretty much know that when you make that move and you go to the inside, you're hands on the steering wheel stop at the yellow line. Now whether that guy in front of you stops at your front bumper or not, that's up to him. At that point, it's out of your hands and in my opinion, if a guy's going to block you and there's a yellow line rule and NASCAR is going to enforce it; and the same thing happened to me at Daytona this year when Carl (Edwards) spun me. He got a run on me and I blocked him all the way down to the yellow line and when we got to the yellow line, he just held the car straight and I turned right across his nose and that's pretty much the way I look at it. If Regan (Smith) in the future, now going through this experience, I think he knows that it's going to be one of those situations where the leader is probably going to end up spinning out across your front bumper. And I think NASCAR has got to decide if that's the way they want that rule to be enforced."
HOW IMPRESSED OR SURPRISED HAVE YOU BEEN WITH JIMMIE JOHNSON FROM HIS START AT THE BEGINNING OF THE SEASON UNTIL NOW? "Well, it's very impressive. The last three years have been impressive, in my opinion, with those guys. They've done an extremely good job with the way they've come together as a team. I knew when they won that first championship, because it took them a couple of years to get that, but I knew when they got that first one it was only going to make them so much stronger and more together as a team. And they've proven that last year and this year that you can't ever count those guys out."
DO YOU FEEL WITH EACH WEEK THAT'S GOES BY AND YOU FALL SHORT OF VICTORY LANE, IS IT JUST A LITTLE BIT MORE PRESSURE TO WIN A RACE BY THE END OF THE YEAR OR IS THAT NOT HOW IT WORKS FOR YOU? "That's not how it works for us. The media is making a lot out of that and for us if we win a race this year we deserved to win one and did the job that it takes. We've had a couple of those situations get away from us this year and we weren't able to capitalize on it. If we don't win it's not the end of the world. We just regroup and get ourselves ready to go tear it up in 2009. I think we've got a couple more races left that we have a real legitimate shot at and I never count us out anywhere. So we still got some races we can get it done. But I can tell you right now it's more for the media than it is anything else."
YOU'VE BEEN WITH DUPONT FOR SO LONG, GIVEN EVERYTHING THAT'S GOING ON WITH THE ECONOMY HOW DO YOU THINK THAT MIGHT TRANSLATE INTO SPONSORS AND HOW IT MIGHT EFFECT THE SPORT? "It's a scary time right now. We see strong teams struggling to get sponsorship. With the economy the way it is and sponsorship being so significant in our sport, I know that Rick Hendrick and I have had several of conversations that were a little nervous. We're very fortunate that we have our sponsors tied down for several years and that's extremely important at this time. But even that doesn't guarantee anything in an economy like this. We've got to not only try to do our best to perform and keep those sponsors, but we've got to do our best to cut costs as well and make sure that we're not being exuberant in anything that we do. So we challenge everybody at the organization to watch those numbers and also we challenge ourselves as teams and drivers to make sure that we keep the performance up."
HOW MIGHT THE ECONOMY AFFECT YOUNG DRIVERS TRYING TO COME INTO THE SPORT, MIGHT THEY GET LOST IN THE SHUFFLE? "Well you've got to understand there's several that get lost in the shuffle even in the good economy. There's great drivers out there that are either wronged, bad timing, don't meet the right person, so I think that still applies. It's about working hard and getting yourself out there. Your family has got to support you up to a certain point. So obviously the economy can affect that. After you get to the next level, usually the family can't afford that anymore and sometime they can but if they can't then you've got to go try to find another car owner, sponsor or somebody that can support you. So obviously those are all going to be affected. I doubt that we might not see as many young talented drivers come up through the next couple of years that might be affected by this, but who knows. You just never know when somebody is going to come along and surprise us all."
WHERE DID YOU FEEL LIKE WSA YOUR BEST CHANCE TO WIN THIS YEAR? "Daytona, we had a great car. Martinsville, the first Martinsville. There was one or two others and I can't remember where they were. We've had some good runs and that's the thing when you haven't had enough consistently good runs, then you only can think about those couple that got away and that's hard. Any season that we've ever won you're usually knocking on the door in several races. You're leading laps consistently, you're running in the top-five and those wins come. It's not about if you're going to win it's just when. This year we have not put ourselves in the position to have those opportunities go our way more often."
WITH THE WAY YOU GUYS HAVE KIND OF BOUNCED UP AND DOWN ON THE 1.5-MILE TRACKS, DO YOU FEEL LIKE IN YOUR MIND THAT MARTINSVILLE IS YOUR BEST SHOT AT WINNING? "I would definitely say it's our best shot, yeah. I don't think it's our only shot but I think it's our best shot. I think here (Lowe's Motor Speedway), Atlanta, even though it's a 1.5-mile we had a good test here and I was pretty happy with the way things went. Atlanta, it's worn out and you're slipping and sliding around so that's a track I always feel like we're competitive at."
IT DOESN'T LOOK LIKE ITS GOING TO HAPPEN BUT SCOTT SPEED IS GOING TO COME IN AND DEBUT IN THIS EVENT, HAVE YOU GUYS SEEN ENOUGH OF HIM TO IF HE CAN HOLD HIS OWN OUT HERE AND NOT GET IN THE WAY OF YOU GUYS TRYING TO RUN FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP? "No. No not yet. I haven't seen enough from Joey Lagano either and he won a Nationwide race. Not taking anything away from those guys but you're asking me a question that I really can't answer until I see him in a Cup car in a race. Guys like that have been very impressive in other series. I love the truck series, I love to watch it but to compete at the Cup level you've got to run in the Nationwide Series consistently and be competitive consistently in order to make enough of an impression that I think you're going to be able to hold your own in the Cup Series."
THINKING BACK TO YOUR FIRST WIN DOES THAT FEEL LIKE THAT WAS LONGER AGO THAN 14 YEARS OR SHORTER? "Ever since I was seven years old and racing quarter midgets and go-karts and then sprint cars it's been a blur. It's just all flown by. So none of it seems like it was that long ago."
WHEN YOU'VE HAD AN ACCIDENT OR YOU'VE CAUSED AN ACCIDENT HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO APOLOGIZE AND IS THERE ONE IN PARTICULAR THAT'S QUITE MEMORABLE? "I never cause an accident (laughs). I mean I've caused plenty of crashes. I don't recall any multiple-car accidents, maybe John Edwards (his pr representative) can tell you. Because I know that it happened I just don't remember. I try to forget those moments. But obviously it doesn't matter any time you cause an accident and it's an accident then you feel like you at least owe an apology or at least an explanation to whoever was caught up in it."
WHEN YOU'VE BEEN TAKEN OUT AND SOMEONE COMES TO APOLOGIZE TO YOU, DOES IT CHANGE WHAT HAPPENED? "It gives me an idea or an impression of that person. But it's more off the track of how I look at them. It doesn't usually change anything that happens on the track."
-credit: gm racing