JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET met with members of the media at Chicagoland Speedway and discussed changes to the Chase, Indianapolis and other topics. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT POSSIBLY CHANGING THE CHASE NEXT YEAR?: "Trying to think...
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET met with members of the media at Chicagoland Speedway and discussed changes to the Chase, Indianapolis and other topics.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT POSSIBLY CHANGING THE CHASE NEXT YEAR?: "Trying to think of what conversation that was in -- changing the Chase? You're going to have to give me more. I like what we have. I've always said that I would like to see the tracks change every year or every couple of years with those final 10. Other than that, I think that whatever they want to do, I'm happy with. I don't believe it's really going to change the outcome of the Chase. I think the strong teams are in there now. It just might draw a little of that bad luck factor for some guys that and we're speculating. When they come out with something and tell us what it is, I will be happy to talk about it."
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR JIMMIE JOHNSON AS A NEW FATHER?: "Get a name. It's exciting, I'm happy for him. It's great and I know how excited he is. The toughest thing is just getting sleep. It's really hard to get sleep at this time. You're so excited and you want to be a part of it in every way. Then you show up at the race track and you realize that you have to do your job and it makes it tough. I don't know of any good advice as to how to do that. That would be my only advice would be to try to find a way to get some sleep."
HOW DO YOU DESCRIBE WHAT JIMMIE IS GOING THROUGH?: "Your heart doesn't want to leave. It's such an incredible time in your life to experience that and the hardest thing to do is to leave. This is what we do and that's a part of it. I think with all the planning that went into having a back-up driver and everything else, I think he's probably more thankful that he was there for that experience and didn't have to get that phone call in the middle of practice or the race or something like that."
WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU THINK OF WHEN YOU HEAR 'INDY?': "I guess I just think of the history of the speedway and how much I looked up to the drivers and the track as a kid growing up. Someday wanting to race there. I love the fact that we get to go there in a stock car. It's a lot of fun to bring NASCAR to the Brickyard."
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE FAST AND WIN RACES AT INDIANAPOLIS?: "It's a good question. You have to have the car really balanced out right and it's tough to do because you have four unique corners, even though they look the same shape, they're all different. It's a hard place to pass at so track position is extremely important. Qualifying well is important there and then we've been seeing a lot these days with softer rear springs versus bigger rear springs and what downforce package seems to be the best combination at a track like Indy where you have these long straight-aways where you want to try to get down the straight-aways good, but have the downforce in the car for the grip through the corners. I think that is something you will see a lot of people playing with."
WHERE DOES INDIANAPOLIS RANK FOR YOU AS FAR AS PRETIGIOUS RACES?: "Number two. The inaugural Brickyard 400 was probably number one that year. It's number two. The Daytona 500 is our biggest race and in my opinion, the Brickyard in number two."
HOW WAS YOUR CAR TODAY IN PRACTICE?: "The car was good right from the start. Pretty happy with everything. That last qualifying run, it didn't go quite as well as we had hoped so we are going to make a couple adjustments. There were some pretty big bumps out there that we're trying to get over. I think that if we can, that's some of our speed. The car is pretty close."
HOW DO YOU APPROACH THE NEXT EIGHT RACES?: "I'm happy that we're second in points, but I will be honest with you, I would rather be seventh in points with five wins right now. I think that for us, we've been in this position before and what we need to do is be in a more solid position to really compete for the championship and I think that when you spot guys like Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick and these guys 30 or 40 or 50 points, that's tough to make up in 10 races. Two or three wins is what's on our priority list these next eight races."
COULD YOU IMAGINE A CUP DRIVER ANNOUCING WHERE HE IS GOING WITH AN HOUR TV SHOW?: "I think I learned what not to do. I'm a big fan of LeBron (James) and I think it's very cool that he's going to Miami, but I don't think the way they went about it is the best marketing idea in the world. You want to create hype, but you also want to be a positive and not a negative. I think I saw more, other than the thing that they did for the Boys and Girls Club, I saw more of it being a little negative. I'm anxious to see how they do when the season starts in Miami because you take a combination like that and Pat Riley and that group down there and I think they can do some spectacular things."
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE NEW LICENSING GROUP FORM ANNOUCED THIS WEEK AND WHAT IMPACT WILL IT HAVE ON FANS?: "I think it's positive for everybody. I think that it's been a long time coming that we needed to really all be kind of on the same page. It's great to have your independence and how you go about your licensing and I think a lot of the top teams work together and were grouped together when it came to selling merchandise out there in the market place. I think this is a broader appeal to that to work together and have a real set structure and plan and have NASCAR involved as well as even some of the smaller teams. I think it's a win-win for everybody. I think the fans are going to see a better product line spread out to further resources and distribution centers that I think they will be more readily available and I think the products are going to be quality products that they will enjoy and be proud of. I think it's a plus. It's been something I know has taken a lot of effort and time to make that happen and it was cool to see everybody involved want to see it happen for the right reasons."
DO YOU HAVE ANY BIG PLANS FOR THE OFF WEEKEND?: "We're going to get away and take this last off week before the baby comes and just try to relax as a family and I'm really looking forward to that. This is a special time for us right now as we plan for number two coming for us and it's also a hectic time. It's nice and it's perfect timing for the team and for our family to just relax and get away and not think about racing for a few days."
IS THAT THE WORKING NAME RIGHT NOW, NUMBER TWO?: "I think that we are, we're not set in stone right now so it could happen."
DO YOU THINK MORE CHANGES ARE NEEDED TO BRING FANS BACK TO THE CHASE?: "I like double file restarts, I like green-white-checkereds, I like the whole Chase format so I honestly don't spend enough of my time trying to think about those details. I spend way more of my time trying to figure out how to make our car go faster. How we can be a threat for the championship in any form that NASCAR creates. It's just right now not a subject that I'm really thinking about so I could come up with some story for you. But I honestly have a lot of confidence that they do their research, meaning NASCAR, and when they come up with something, they thought through it. I might not agree with every aspect of it, but I think that whatever they want to do, I'm fine with it."
WHAT CAN NASCAR DO FOR THE CROWDS AND RATINGS?: "Let's say that we were under the old points system. We don't know, there might be less of a crowd so we don't know. For whatever reason, the sport has been affected and I think that we've got some of the best, most exciting racing that we've had in a long time so is it the racing, the points system, what is going to engage the fans in our sport in a way that is going to grow the sport. There are so many things going on in the world today that are entertaining and where people are going to spend their money and when times are tough they have to make that decision and choice. I still see tremendous crowds and very avid fans, but are the numbers what they want from a viewer ship at home and in the grandstands, maybe not, but I still see great crowds everywhere I go and see incredibly avid fans so that's what I measure by. I don't use the same measuring tools that they measure by."
HOW DID YOU FEEL ABOUT LOSING THE RACE AT WATKINS GLEN LAST YEAR?: "What made me mad about Watkins Glen is that I would have settled with second that day. I don't know if we were going to win, Tony (Stewart) was running us down, he was pretty strong at that point, I was more mad that I made a mistake and didn't settle for a good finish instead I made a mistake trying to win the race, which is not a bad thing. But I was more upset that it cost us as much as it did. Marcos (Ambrose) and it's kind of the same thing for him, you beat yourself up over mistakes like that and you have to wait for that next moment to get it back. I think he's going to be able to redeem himself pretty quick because when we get to Watkins Glen I think he will really be the guy to beat. More so than he was at Sonoma. I felt for him because I know how much he wanted that win and he earned it. He put himself in that position and he was the guy to beat. You hate to see it go away in that way, but at the same time, that was kind of a simple mistake that shouldn't have happened."
WHY IS THE POPULARITY IN THE MIDWEST OF NASCAR NOT AS STRONG?: "I felt like some of our biggest fans are in the Midwest even though we didn't have tracks there. Just a huge amount of race fans because of the short tracks, the dirt tracks and I think there was a time when the Indy 500 was all about Indy and Indy cars and AJ Foyt, Rick Mears and the Midwest followed that. Including myself. Those times change through the early 90s, especially when the stock cars and NASCAR went to the Brickyard. With these tracks like Kansas and Chicago, that only builds that fan base up because now they don't have to travel as far to get to a race, which I think has been a great thing and I can see us going to more places in the Midwest and continuing to build on a fan base that we're not fully tapped into yet."
ARE THERE ANY SPECIFIC MIDWEST TRACKS?: "I hear great things about the Iowa track, I don't know about the market, I don't know about the stands and what it could fill. You've got Kentucky as well, it's a pretty nice track. Maybe there's a track that's not built yet. I think it's important to NASCAR to not only draw in a great crowd at the track, but they want to have a mass appeal from a marketing standpoint as well as a TV viewer ship and what's good for the sport as well as a good crowd at the track."
IS INDY'S IMPORTANCE ALL ABOUT INDYCARS OR WHAT HAS STOCK CAR RACING BROUGHT TO THE PRESTIGE OF THE TRACK?: "I don't think Indy would be as significant if it weren't for the Indy 500 and the history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. If they never held an IndyCar race there and we went to Indianapolis even as unique a track as it is, it would be number 10 on the list. I think the Indy 500 is what holds so much significance as to why that race is so popular."
WHAT DOES NASCAR NEED TO DO TO ADD TO THE INDY MYSTIQUE?: "I think we have. I think it's hard to compete with history, but I think when we got there and you look at how popular our sport is and the drivers and the sponsors and everything that we attract, I think that there is a more avid fan base there for our race than there is for the Indy 500. The Indy 500 is an event and it's a worldwide event and while it's still popular, I think that our race is actually has more avid popularity from the fans just from the standpoint and the support that we have when we go there than they do."
-source: gm racing