Daytona 500: Jeff Gordon - Media Day visit

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA met with media and discussed news that he and his wife Ingrid are expecting a second baby in August, being motivated by Jimmie Johnson's success, bump-drafting and self-policing, and more. JEFF GORDON: What's on...

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA met with media and discussed news that he and his wife Ingrid are expecting a second baby in August, being motivated by Jimmie Johnson's success, bump-drafting and self-policing, and more.

JEFF GORDON: What's on everybody's mind? I don't know what's going on in our sport right now. It's kind of crazy. We're really excited. We were hoping to be able to add a second (child) to our family, you know, able to make that a reality. It's exciting news. Thank you. Sometime in August. We don't know what it is yet. But I know she was excited about being a big sister. She can't stop talking about it at home.

Q. (Regarding Jimmie and Chani Johnson expecting their first baby in July)

JEFF GORDON: You know, when he told me his news, I was floored. I was like, Wow. I kind of had an idea that they were interested in starting a family. You know, I don't know. We had kind of been talking to some of our friends that we'd like to have a second, that we were trying. You know, it was shortly after that that we realized we were pregnant, as well. It's pretty exciting stuff.

Q. (Question regarding his mother.)

JEFF GORDON: She just loves being a grandmother. I have an older sister. When you have a child, you realize how important it is for them to have siblings. So, you know, it's something that we've really been hoping for, and now it's a reality. My mom's thrilled.

Q. I don't think someone who has been a father has won a title since 2000. Anything to that?

JEFF GORDON: Maybe they're having children now, it's going to be harder for it not to happen.

I definitely think that that first, you know, even now, you know, she's two and almost eight months, it's still an adjustment. But I feel like, you know, right now I'm really balanced out as far as understanding, you know, how to balance the role of being a father and a husband, you know, focus on racing.

But that first year I would say was very challenging. You know, adding a second is definitely going to be challenging as they come along. But I feel, as far as I'm concerned and focused on racing, I feel I'm as well prepared for that as I ever have been.

Q. Four time champion as company. How is that sitting with you?

JEFF GORDON: Jimmie has been a phenomenal part of this sport, Hendrick Motorsports. He's a very talented guy. You know, I feel people that work hard and have the right team behind them that truly deserve it, you know, they should be able to go and experience wins and championships and I'll be happy for him. That is truly the case as it relates to Jimmie.

But still inside of me I'm a competitor. I want to win. It doesn't matter to me who we're competing against or who we're trying to beat that day or for the championship, you know, we want to win. It really does not slight it at all if it's Jimmie. I'm truly happy for him and I think he's a great champion and a great racecar driver.

I don't think they're done yet. I think they're still going to make a heck of a run for it this year.

Q. No one is more annoyed or motivated by his success than you. Is that fairly accurate?

JEFF GORDON: Annoyed? I wouldn't say that. I mean, I think it's always motivation when your team, when your organization, like Terry Labonte, when they won the championship in '96, I feel like that really motivated us. It wasn't because it annoyed us, it was because I felt like we were an organization that was really capable of winning championships and that we let that one slip away from us and we were capable of getting more.

You know, I would use different wording. It's been great motivation because to watch how they go about it. You know, I would say that the physical fitness side of it, you know, that certainly has stepped it up, due to my back, as well as seeing Jimmie and Mark and those guys, other guys in the sport, like Carl. I don't want to leave anything out there unanswered. And I feel like I still have some good years left in me.

Knowing those championships have come to Hendrick Motorsports, and it hasn't been us getting it, you know, that's more motivation.

But, no, I wouldn't say annoyed. I would say I feel similar to a lot of other competitors out there. You know, you're frustrated. You're like, you know what, I'm tired of seeing those guys win and being up there on the stage. I remember that happened when I came along with Earnhardt. Then it happened with me. Now it's happened with Jimmie. That's just competition.

Q. You've had a front row seat for his whole evolution. How has he developed it so well and what is his gift?

JEFF GORDON: I think it's just a total team effort. They've got an incredible crew chief in Chad Knaus, total dedication, great resources at Hendrick. And Jimmie, he's fantastic in the details of how he analyzes the car, breaking down the tracks. He puts a lot into it. He works out hard. He puts a lot of effort into it, as well as the rest of the team. And that's where the results show.

Q. (Indiscernible)

JEFF GORDON: You know what, I never will say never. I mean, there was a time I thought 2010 would be my last year. I've always said that it's not for me to pick and choose because it takes -- you have to be healthy, competitive, you know. If you have those two things, then you're going to hopefully enjoy what you're doing. Those three components are what's gonna keep me in the sport until that day or season comes to an end.

I don't want to put a date on it.

Q. Can you talk about the self policing of the sport, self policing that didn't happen, that didn't work. NASCAR stepped in and said they'll step in if they have to. They regulated bump drafting. How does self policing work? Talk us through how that works now.

JEFF GORDON: It was to an extent. I think that maybe what's happened it's maybe just been a little bit too much policing. I think you still have to manage the people and the sport. That would be like saying, Okay, there's no rules for the car, so just bring whatever you want to bring. They still have to step in there and keep those intact. They still have to do that with the drivers.

I think, you know, perception has a lot to do with it. I don't think they were stepping in as much as people think that they were. I think you'd be surprised how much was going on out there that wasn't being policed. Now the drivers meetings are on TV. You know, there's very few things that happen that don't get back to the fans and the media. I think those things could have happened 10 years ago and it would have never even fazed anybody.

You know, I think now if they truly are going to let us police that on our own, you're going to see some, you know, tempers flaring and definitely a lot more action on the track as well as in the pits. I think that's certainly a good thing.

But there's still that safety standpoint that always has to be monitored. I think that's where they'll still step in.

Q. You're not against it if they do it fairly?

JEFF GORDON: I think that anybody that actually, you know, understands the sport, I think anybody that is a racecar driver, knows that you can't bump draft through the corners. If there's somebody out there that doesn't get that, you know, the self policing will be coming in payback.

You know, for some reason it seems like there's some guys that don't quite understand. At Talladega, it's totally different than here at Daytona. So, you know, I think we really don't even have a whole lot to talk about here at Daytona as far as that's concerned, the bump drafting side of it. I'm excited with the bigger restrictor plate, the speeds we're going to be running out here with the Bud Shootout practice. That's going to change the handling of the cars a little bit, as well. Then I can't wait for the spoiler, when we get that on there later in the season.

There's definitely some exciting things that are happening. I'm always anxious to see how we police ourselves. I still haven't heard about the yellow line rule. They were still up in the air on the yellow line rule. I was like, that might be taking it a little too far.

Q. Tempers could flare out of the car where after the race we see guys getting into it.

JEFF GORDON: I think that's great. I think that's what's missing in the sport. It's not missing in the sport because people don't feel that way; it's missing in the sport because we've become very corporate, you know. The reason we've become very corporate is because the sport is expensive. In order to put the kind of cars and teams together on the track 36 weeks out of the year, we have to have big sponsors. Depending on who your sponsor is, you know, can dictate your actions on and off the racetrack - more off the racetrack.

You know, all your sponsors want to see you win. They want to see you thank them for their sponsorship. There's some that might not mind some controversy. But there's others that that can go too far. You know, you got to be somewhat mindful of that.

Q. Is there an urgency maybe for you a little bit more than five or six years ago?

JEFF GORDON: To win races?

Q. Championships.

JEFF GORDON: Heck yeah. You're darn right. I don't have a whole lot of years left in me. I don't know how many exactly that is. But I'm certainly tapering down toward the later side of my career. And so those years are winding down. Those opportunities are winding down. I want to take full advantage of the fact that we've got the best organization out there. I've got a great team. We're still capable of winning championships. I want to take full advantage of it.

That's why Steve and myself and our team has been doing everything we can possibly think of during this off season to make it happen.

Q. How much would a fourth 500 mean to your resume?

JEFF GORDON: You know, my resume's complete. I'll be honest. I don't have to do anything more. I want to do it for our team because I think we're capable of doing it. I would love to get back and win. See, I don't look at it as five. I look at it as one. I've never won a Sprint Cup. The sport has changed in how you race for a championship since how that's come along. It's also motivation. I don't like a points system change or a car change to dictate whether or not, you know, we can win championships. I feel like, you know, all the racing I've done, I've been able to win in a lot of different types of cars and tracks. I want to keep that going.

So it's a huge challenge for us to try to compete with that.

Q. (Indiscernible)

JEFF GORDON: Well, you know, the Daytona 500 is the Daytona 500. There's not a guy out there that doesn't want to win it, doesn't think they can win it. At this point in the season every year, everybody feels like they've got what it takes, not only to win this race but to win the championship.

But Daytona is special. You know, you analyze every lap more here than you do probably any other race because there's so much riding on the line. There's so much buildup and anticipation getting to this event. If you win one race all year, this is the one you want to win.

Q. (Indiscernible).

JEFF GORDON: Well, I think it comes down to do you measure toughness on an injury, fighting an injury.

Q. (Indiscernible).

JEFF GORDON: I mean, to me, you know, how hard we push the cars every single lap of every race is a lot harder than when I first came along. I would say we have some amenities, you know, cool air boxes, some of those things that we didn't used to have. But I think guys are physically in better shape. I would say the majority of them are much better physically, in better physical shape, than guys, you know, of the past.

But there were some tough guys that were a part of our sport, part of motorsports in general. You go back to A.J. Foyt. You look at Yarborough and Earnhardt. These are some tough, tough guys. Tough minded as well as tough physically.

You know, I think we've got the most incredible group of drivers talent wise from a toughness side of it. If they truly had to be challenged in the same ways, I think you'd be surprised how they stacked up.

Q. (Indiscernible).

JEFF GORDON: Well, the car, you know, doesn't do as many things as you would want it to do, that's for sure. It's more challenging to get the car to drive the way you want it to drive. I think the competition's so much closer. The aerodynamics of this car, just evolution of engineering, aerodynamics, create more challenges. The competition, I think there's better teams spread out throughout the field. The drivers are all very qualified drivers.

Then what that means, we don't have as many failures as what we used to have either. What that means is you have to push that car harder every lap. You have to get the absolute most out of that car every single lap. That's what is probably the most challenging, to do that for 38 weeks. Plus the championship now comes down to the final 10 races, so you've got to be at your fittest, you know, your best mentally, the team has got to be fresh. Everybody has to be at their best those final 10 races because that's when it's truly run.

Q. (Indiscernible).

JEFF GORDON: Yeah, you know, that's the thing, the problem is, the differences is you would never have some of those answers because we do have power steering. I mean, again, that's just how sports in general change.

Q. You won and lost a lot of close ones. Talk about that. Does winning ever get routine for you?

JEFF GORDON: Are we talking about a specific track or just in general?

Q. In general.

JEFF GORDON: Winning, especially as little as wave been doing lately, it never gets old. You never know when that next win's gonna come. And experiencing victory is still one of the greatest thrills you'll have ever have. It's because of the hard work and how difficult it is to win. So I never take that for granted. And certainly the last couple years have been great, humbling experiences for our team to motivate ourselves even more to get back into winning fashion.

Q. What will Danica Patrick's presence have on NASCAR?

JEFF GORDON: She draws a lot of attention. So, you know, we've seen what it's done for the IRL. It's already created quite a buzz with our sport. She's not even in the Cup Series. It's just the fact she's going to be driving a car in some Nationwide races. I think it's fantastic.

I think really what I see from it, besides the media attention, I don't know which way that's gonna go. It depends how she does on the track. But the fact that she's taken on that challenge, it's really challenging to run her full season and run in a totally unique and different car than she's ever driven before and take that on. I always give so much credit to Sam and to Dario and to Juan Pablo and any of the openwheel guys that have created an established career and tried to jump and do that. You got to give them a lot of credit for just wanting to take on the challenge.

-source: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Terry Labonte , Jimmie Johnson , Chad Knaus , A.J. Foyt , Danica Patrick
Teams Hendrick Motorsports