JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT MONTE CARLO SS TALKED WITH MEDIA ABOUT MARK MARTIN POSSIBLY DRIVING FOR HIM AT SONOMA, THE SUCCESS OF HMS WITH THE NEW GENERATION RACE CAR, AND MORE ON THE POSSIBLE PLAN TO HAVE MARK MARTIN DRIVE FOR HIM AT SONOMA IF...
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT MONTE CARLO SS TALKED WITH MEDIA ABOUT MARK MARTIN POSSIBLY DRIVING FOR HIM AT SONOMA, THE SUCCESS OF HMS WITH THE NEW GENERATION RACE CAR, AND MORE
ON THE POSSIBLE PLAN TO HAVE MARK MARTIN DRIVE FOR HIM AT SONOMA IF THE BABY IS BORN THEN "We're just trying to make the best plans that we possibly can - not knowing when the baby may be born. We wanted to have a backup plan. The first person that we thought of was Mark Martin. And the way we've been working with him with Hendrick and the Ginn team, and him running a part time schedule, I thought that he might be interested and I threw it out to him. It took a little while to convince him. I talked to him about it. He's been very gracious and that's awesome.
"I hope we don't have to use him and hope it doesn't come to that. But wow, what an awesome opportunity for the No. 24 DuPont team to have a guy like that step in for me is we needed him to because those owner points are very important."
WHY DID YOU HAVE TO CONVINCE HIM? "Well, he made a commitment to his team. And because he's doing a part time schedule and he's been very appreciative of them working their schedule the way they have for him this year to give him more time off, that when you say, 'Hey Mark, I know you might not be running Sonoma, but could you come there and be on standby for me?' That puts him in a tough position with his own team."
YOU HAVE HARDLY EVER MISSED A RACE "And I hope I don't ever. I don't want to miss one. But there are only two things I can think of as to why I would miss a race. One is that I wasn't healthy enough to be there and two, would be because I have a baby being born.
"I expressed to her (his wife) early on and what a special occasion and moment in my life this is and how special it is for both of us and I wouldn't miss it for anything. I love racing, but I don't love it that much."
DOES IT BOTHER YOU WHEN PEOPLE BOO YOU? "It bothered me a lot more at the beginning when I didn't understand it and questioned what I'd done to get booed. Now as time has gone by, it bothers me less today than it ever has. We've got a huge fan base out there that pull for us and cheer for us. But I don't think anybody is going to ever compete with Dale Earnhardt Sr. or Dale Earnhardt Jr. fans. The numbers are just too big."
JACK ROUSH SAID TODAY THAT HENDRICK, CHILDRESS, AND GIBBS WERE PLAYING OUTSIDE THE RULES BY TESTING SO MUCH IN THE CAR OF TOMORROW AND NOT USING GOODYEAR TIRES AND THAT'S WHY YOU GUYS ARE WINNING "We're doing everything we can to be competitive and we're not doing anything wrong. We're testing at tracks that aren't at NASCAR sanctioned tracks, as they clearly state. We're not using Goodyear tires. If they're not available, then we're not using those. We're doing things to get laps and get information - just like having a seven post test and having a wind tunnel test. We're utilizing a track to just gather information and I would admit that it's definitely playing a role in helping us get to where we are. I don't know what the Gibbs teams or Childress teams are doing. But if the Roush teams aren't doing that, then that's their mistake."
IS IT BETTER FOR THE TEAMS TO GO TO THE CAR OF TOMORROW FULL TIME NEXT YEAR? 'Yeah, it is. We're always going to continue to compare this car to the Monte Carlo or to the older car. And as longer as you're comparing the two, one is going to drive better than the other. But from a financial standpoint and from a competition side, I think the results have been good. I'm not saying this car is perfect. It could use some tweaking. But we might as well run it everywhere. The only thing I wish we would have done is run this car on the 1.5-mile track this year. I'm a little disappointed that we're not going to get the opportunity to do that. The All-Star event was the perfect opportunity to do that."
WHAT DOES ADDING 100 MILES TO A RACE DO TO A DRIVER, PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY? "It makes it difficult. This is a very long race, mentally and physically -- also on reliability on the engines and the cars. There are a lot of things that happen in the last 100 miles of this race - pit strategy and fuel mileage and so many things factor into it, that that last 100 miles really changes things."
MARK MARTIN HAS 3 FEWER STARTS THAN ANYBODY ELSE AND HE'S STILL ON THE CHASE BUBBLE AT 15TH IN POINTS. IF HE KEEPS THAT UP, WILL OTHER DRIVERS TRY TO MAKE PART-TIME RUNS AND STILL BE IN THE HUNT? "When you get to the point in your career like Mark has then yes, you'd consider that. But when you're in the prime of your career, and you've made a commitment to your team and sponsors, then that's where it gets really tricky and tough to juggle. In order to get your sponsors to commit the dollars it takes to be competitive these days, it's very difficult to convince them that you're not going to have your lead driver every weekend. I credit Ginn Racing and the U.S. Army for working that out.
"It's amazing they've been able to work that out. Only a team like that could do that. They didn't have a Mark Martin before that. They needed a Mark Martin to get them to the next level. They were willing to bend the norm to do that. I can tell you one thing. What Mark has done has probably extended my career because now when that day comes and I feel like I can no longer race full time in the Cup series, I still might want to race part time."
WOULD YOU HAVE CONSIDERED THAT BEFORE MARK MARTIN WAS SUCCESSFUL AT IT? "No. Every time I've ever thought about it or brought it up to anybody, they've always said well no, there's not a sponsor that's going to be able to do that. It's important for this No. 24 team to race for championship and battle for it - and I think they always will, whether I'm driving it or not. If we maybe have a young, up-and-coming driver to bring along slowly, then that might be a great opportunity to do that - where I still race like Mark is and then we bring him in after that. That's a scenario that I can possibly see. But I can't see that going for more than a year."
DID YOU SAY ANYTHING TO KYLE BUSCH AFTER THE ALL-STAR RACE? "We did talk. We had a few different things going on this week. He is an aggressive driver. And that was an aggressive move. I think Kyle maybe learned something out here about having siblings. You sometimes thing they're going to maybe give you a little space or a little bit more room, and that isn't necessarily always the case. And in that situation in the All-Star race, Kurt (Busch) definitely didn't give him an inch. He didn't really have to. And Kyle made an aggressive move and it's unfortunate it ended up the way it did."
TALK ABOUT THE CAR OF TOMORROW AND HENDRICK'S SUCCESS WITH IT THIS YEAR "I think as time goes by with this car, it's going to be hard for any team to have a big advantage. This car really, truly does eliminate a lot of those advantages. But I think when you talk about rolling it out and it being new to everybody, we really have been able to show, along with Gibbs, that we've got a bit of an edge. I don't know if that will be able to last forever. I hope it does.
I think when we bring it out full time next year, you'll see it close the gap and it'll be better off for everybody in the long run."
ON CHEVROLET'S SUCCESS THIS YEAR "Oh, the Chevys are performing fantastically. We're very happy with our engine package and all the resources that we get from them. More importantly, I think these Chevy teams are some of the best teams out there and it's a good combination to have right now."
ON WHERE THIS YEAR RANKS: "This has been a great year for me personally, for us as a race team. We have really been searching since about 2002, to get ourselves back in championship form, winning races. Doing it consistently. This is the first year really since then that we have been able to show that. It is exciting. Things like this only help our whole organization and our team for years to come. Because it proves, you can lose it a little bit and you can get it back. That is what we have been able to do this year."
-credit: gm racing