JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS met with members of the media at Daytona International Speedway and discussed NASCAR's drug testing policy, bump drafting and other topics. WILL THE PREFERRED LINE FOR RESTARTS AT DAYTONA BE THE INSIDE OR ...
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS met with members of the media at Daytona International Speedway and discussed NASCAR's drug testing policy, bump drafting and other topics.
WILL THE PREFERRED LINE FOR RESTARTS AT DAYTONA BE THE INSIDE OR OUTSIDE LINE?: "That's why I don't think much about it because you never know until the race gets going. I think it kind of depends on who all is in your line. If you have a strong group of cars that have shown a lot of strength so far in the race then I think that's the line that I would go with more so than inside or outside. But we're not really sure how handling is going to be affected; you don't know what tires you're going to be on, who is going to be on old tires and who is going to be on new tires. So many different factors that play in and that's why you can over-think it at this point right now, standing here. Once you get out there and you know what you have to deal with then that to me is the best time to go about the strategy."
COULD IT BE BENEFICIAL TO CHOOSE THE OUTSIDE LANE IF YOU WERE RUNNING CLOSER TO THE FRONT?: "I think that would be a pretty good choice. If you're the leader then that would definitely factor in to your decision."
WILL THE POTENTIAL FOR RAIN THIS WEEKEND CHANGE THE WAY DRIVERS TAKE RISKS?: "We normally watch the radar pretty closely and while you can't predict everything that pops up on the radar these days, especially here in Florida, I think you have to be prepared for anything and you have to race pretty hard throughout the race. Once you get to the halfway point or as you're closing in on the halfway point, if it looks like the potential for rain then you're going to see guys racing a lot harder. We saw it last week and we've seen it in the past. I think we'll see it again here. It's up to the team and the spotter on the roof to really be paying attention to what's going on with the weather or what's closing in."
DO YOU PAY ATTENTION TO THE POINTS?: "The only thing that we're paying attention to is just trying to build our team to be as strong as it can possibly be right now. We're trying to get those bonus points to win races. Because we're up front in the points, it gives us the benefits of taking more risk as far as strategy and going for those wins. Being the leader, I'm fine with being fifth and having five wins right now."
DOES IT MAKE YOU WANT THE CHAMPIONSHIP MORE BECAUSE JIMMIE JOHNSON HAS EARNED IT THE LAST THREE YEARS?: "I'm really excited about the way our team has been performing this year and the chance that we have at competing for the championship. With the 'Chase,' no matter what kind of year you're having it doesn't guarantee anything until that final 10, but I think that what Jimmie (Johnson) has accomplished over the last three years and that entire team -- I think that's motivated everybody in this garage area. I think it's motivated them to go for four because it's never been done and I think it's motivated the rest of us to stop and to know that they are going to be a major threat for the championship and that if you can beat those guys then you are doing something really special."
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT POSSIBLY BEING BACK ON THE RACE TRACK WITH JEREMY MAYFIELD?: "I never said that I didn't want to be on the track with Jeremy Mayfield. When all that comes out then I will be happy to answer that, but at this point right now, I signed something saying that I would not want to be on the track with somebody that tested positive or that positively had drugs in their system. I don't think there's anybody in this garage area that wouldn't feel that way. I didn't have any issues with Jeremy (Mayfield) on the track prior to all this going on and I don't think that would change if he was out on the track anytime soon."
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE JUDGE'S RULING MEANING HE COULD BE BACK ON THE TRACK BUT NOT WHETHER THE TEST WAS POSITIVE OR NOT?: "I have no idea -- I am so confused right now at the whole thing that I am going to let it all play out. I'll be honest, I haven't been following it enough to know what's going on. Leave me out. I support NASCAR in what they're wanting to do and what they're trying to do with the drug policy. I think it's the right thing to do and I support that 100 percent."
IS THE COURT CASE TAKING AWAY FROM NASCAR?: "I know I'm a driver and I get asked a lot of questions, I appreciate that -- you're asking the wrong guy. I'm going to go out there and I'm going to drive as hard as I can. I think that it's in the best interest for every major sport to try to control anybody that might take the risk or chance of being out there on an illegal substance or any kind of drug or alcohol. You have to have some type of system in place and I support NASCAR in that 100 percent.
"Other than that, I go out and I race as hard as I can against whatever competitor is out there on the track. I've raced against guys out there that I am 100 percent positive that they weren't on anything and I was still nervous about racing around them. You go out there and you race and you race the best that you possibly can against everybody and you race everybody the way that they race you."
ARE YOU SURPRISED THAT THIS HAS COME TO JUDGES AND RULINGS?: "Oh yeah, it's blown me away that this is all happening. I think that you expect it to probably be quiet for a little while and you know that anytime you incorporate a new policy like this that it is obviously going to get a lot of attention. You don't expect something like this to happen this early on I guess. I know it's important for the whole sport and for the system that is put in place because it's going to set the tone for what happens in the future."
HOW IS THE DRUG TESTING POLICY DIFFERENT?: "I saw one sheet of paper that was just a little more thorough about what they were doing -- the process they were doing and I was checking off as to every step of what they were doing. It changed slightly. I've only been tested twice and from the first to the second time it changed slightly."
HOW DO YOU PUT BIG CRASHES BEHIND YOU WHEN YOU GET BACK IN THE CAR?: "It's not the funnest thing in the world. It's sometimes painful. Mentally, it can play with you a little bit. I've had some crashes where there's like a brake failure and it's out of your hands and out of your control. You have to rely on your team and I'm fortunate that I've got the best guys in the business so it helps all those fears go away quickly. When you make a mistake and you end up with a big crash, then it will stick with you for a little while. You will think about what you need to do going forward to try to prevent those from happening again. You would be surprised how quick the competition -- you're pushing the car as hard as you can, whether it be qualifying or in the race."
DO YOU THINK EVERYONE WILL RACE THE SAME WAY THEY DID AT TALLADEGA?: "There's a huge difference between Daytona and Talladega. I think that right there in itself is going to fix things quite a bit. You're talking about a restrictor plate track, but a lot more bumps, tighter radius corners -- you can't bump draft the same way here that you can, even though you can still do it and we're going to see it happening and we're going to see crashes from it happening, but I think that it does play out a little different here. I understand Carl's (Edwards) point -- it's frustrating to be in a position to win there, it was a nasty crash and a lot of it had to do with bump drafting, but that's the box that we're in. There's no perfect solution to it. Right now we just have to race as hard as we can and be conscious enough of what may go wrong and understand as drivers that we play a role in that as well a the rules and the cars."
HOW DO YOU HANDLE THE POSSIBILITY OF A GREEN-WHITE-CHECKERED FINISH AT DAYTONA?: "A good spotter is crucial here on the restrictor plate tracks so I rely on my spotter a lot. In those closing laps I need more information. There is almost a constant talk on the radio giving me what's going on two and three rows behind me, inside row, outside row. I need all that information to make my decisions, but I have to know the rules. I have to know when I can pass on a restart. I have to know where the yellow line is and that you can't pass somebody below that. Still a little unclear about blocking somebody below the yellow line, but that's just something that you have to take into account. It certainly helps that I have been racing here a lot of years and all those races have given me a lot of experience to help me make better decisions."
WHAT DO YOU TELL KIDS THAT WANT TO GET INTO RACING?: "I started when I was very young so the first thing you say is to get started very young. The down side to racing is that it's not inexpensive to get started and usually your family or maybe your neighbor or somebody has a kid racing and that's what gets you into it. I wish there were more ways out there to get kids started that was more like soccer, football and baseball that was in school and free. That's not the case and so get started young -- the parents have to recognize that there's a talent there and then do everything they can to try to hone those skills. Make sure that they're racing something that is organized, safe and at a budget level that they can handle."
-credit: gm racing