Continued from part 1 Q: Track position is important here because you need to be aware of where you are horizontally on the track. JEFF GORDON: That's true. I think if it's a five-lap shootout, absolutely. You know, you got to watch your ...
Continued from part 1
Q: Track position is important here because you need to be aware of where you are horizontally on the track.
JEFF GORDON: That's true. I think if it's a five-lap shootout, absolutely. You know, you got to watch your mirrors.
If it's, you know, a 25-lap or however far we can go on fuel, then it's gonna be about handling. And that track position's not -- it's only going to be important as far as the guys you're battling with might spread out a little bit.
Q: Last time racing here, we had guys jump out in front of lines, moving on the outside. Is that a feel thing? Do you have to develop a knack or that is a wild guess which line is going to move?
JEFF GORDON: Well, I mean, I think, you know, that's where experience I think works out pretty good here. You know, you get a sense of when a line is starting to fade and when a line is, you know, picking up.
The thing about this car, though, is the momentum gets picked up so fast that you can't just jump up in front of a line. I think that's why Tony Stewart lost this race. I think he knew if he jumped up in front of that outside line, there's possibly going to be a big wreck. You know, we saw -- it kind of happened to Casey Mears here, as well. He lost some momentum. He jumped up in front of that line, and they ran over the top of him. And that's kind of the nature of this new car.
So if you could sense the momentum shifting and changing, you got to get there in a hurry. You know, you got to make sure those guys have nowhere to go but your rear bumper, and make sure when they get to you and hit you, it doesn't spin you out.
Q: Did you have any problem with Montoya's retaliation against Busch last week? What were your thoughts on that?
JEFF GORDON: You know, I just saw it for the very first time. I think that's between those two guys. Doesn't have anything to do with me. So I think that we've learned over the years that, you know, in the heat of the moment we all do and say a lot of crazy things. You know, it's up to NASCAR to kind of monitor and be the ones that decide how to handle it, not me.
Q: (Question regarding Mark Martin.)
JEFF GORDON: I love Mark Martin. I think Mark Martin is probably the most awesome racecar driver I've ever raced with. I think that, you know, when I think of guys that should have won multiple championships, you know, he's one of them. And I think it's unfortunate that he hasn't because, you know, his track record, his talent, his commitment certainly deserve it.
But, you know, I had an opportunity to race with him early on in the Busch Series, had a blast, learned a ton from him. You know, I always knew he was one of the most talented racecar drivers I've ever seen.
Q: Is there still something you could learn from him?
JEFF GORDON: You know, I learn from everybody. But I absolutely will learn from Mark. Mark has amazing patience, but he has amazing drive and commitment. You know, you look at the shape that he's in. You know, there's not too many guys - I'm not saying he's old - I'm just saying not too many guys are out there, you know, or have been out there in the past at his age that are as competitive as he is through all the changes that have gone on through cars, teams, everything else. You know, that to me is one of the many things I admire about him.
Q: Do drivers today have to have better skills than the drivers of yesterday?
JEFF GORDON: No. I mean, you had guys that, you know, didn't have power steering and didn't have a lot of the safety features that we have today. You know, I think you've always had to have talent. I think that today you don't have to have the brut strength that you maybe had to have, you know, years ago. But talent is something that's always been an important part of racing, and you either have it or you don't.
Q: How about luck?
JEFF GORDON: You know, I have interesting views on luck. I'm sure not everybody shares my views. But, you know, I believe you make your luck. I mean, throughout my whole career, the times when I look back and said, Boy, that was really lucky, you know, if you take the math and, you know, everything that went into what happened, to me, you know, it was about putting yourself in that position to have good fortune go your way, whether it be a great call, whether it be, you know, just circumstances, having a great car, not having a great car, whatever it may be.
I believe that, you know, preparation, commitment, and a lot of hard work is what makes a lot of times you appear to be very lucky.
Q: As a guy that has been loved and hated in the sport, what do you think of the fans' treatment of Kyle Busch, and the other end of the spectrum, Junior?
JEFF GORDON: One of the things I love about our sport is the passion that our fans have, and it's all over the place, you know, from love to hate to no reaction at all. I think that's one of the things that sets our sport, you know, puts it in a really unique position and situation because I don't think there are any fans out there - maybe the NFL - but I don't think there's anybody that has the avidness, the passion and shows, you know, their displeasure or support the way that NASCAR fans do.
Q: Brian France said he wanted to get this back to basics. From your perspective, it's always pretty competitive.
JEFF GORDON: The thing is that I would say that this year's been more competitive than it's ever been.
You know, I would say that because of this car, you look at practice times, qualifying times, race speeds, the one thing about it is all these cars are all basically running the same speed when the green flag drops, and I think that's what's made passing so difficult. You know, we talk about aerodynamics. But sometimes you forget about competition, how competitive it really is out there. Because we just don't have as many tools to work with, you know, it's really hard to separate ourselves from the competition.
And so in one sense I think it's been the most competitive year, but on the other, you know, I think the racing has suffered a little bit because of it. And I believe and feel the same way that Brian does, you know, getting back to the basics is important and having great racing out there. I think that's one of the things you're going to see this week, you'll see some great racing.
Q: It's fair to say that great racing when you're in the racecar, the fans might not think it was?
JEFF GORDON: Oh, absolutely. Hey, I've been to Talladega and thought it was the worst race I've ever been a part of, but the fans were standing up, cheering, throwing stuff, whatever. Yeah, definitely the driver's point of view on a lot of those things is much, much different than the fans' point of view.
I mean, I think we know a good race when we see one. But when you're inside the car and you're driving, sweat's just rolling off your forehead, you've got your hands full, you're in a tight battle with a guy every single lap, you know, it's hard to say that's not great racing. But I do think that, you know, we need to have more lead changes, we need to have more passes happening. And I believe, as a driver, as well as a fan, you know, that's something we all need to see more of.
Q: With this new car, why is it taking so long to adjust to some races than others?
JEFF GORDON: You know, it's just hard to say. I mean, it's a tough racecar to get a handle on. I mean, if you look at, you know, this car, the tires, the higher center of gravity, the aerodynamics, it could be driving styles, and it suits some guys' driving styles better. It's could be just that, you know, we haven't been able to get the right combination of the setup together.
Q: On the team's performance at various race tracks.
JEFF GORDON: Well, it's all over the board. I mean, we ran great last week at a track we ran great at last year, and then we go to Phoenix, a race we won at, and we were terrible. You know, that's probably been the biggest frustrating thing is that we don't always know. We go to a track thinking we're going to be pretty good and we're not. We go to a track thinking we're not going to be very good, like maybe Dover, and we're great. It's hard to really say. If we had a better answer, it certainly would make my life a little easier.
Q: How frustrating is that for you?
JEFF GORDON: It's frustrating. We got to work harder, you know. We just got to, you know, keep communicating and just putting the effort out there and, you know, do all we can to find it. And that's why I'm proud of this team, is they haven't given up. You know, they just keep marching forward, continue throughout the week to find those answers, try to understand this car, the tires, the shocks, the bump stops, all those things better, and apply it to the next race.
Q: With the Chase, does that make it a whole lot more nerve-wracking to you?
JEFF GORDON: Yes and no. I look at our season to date, and we probably wouldn't have any chance at the championship with the old points system. And I still feel like at this point we've got a shot. Last year it was frustrating because we probably could have won the championship under the old points system. This year, you know, it's not as frustrating because I feel like, you know, we still are in it.
Q: Did you have a chance to talk to Dario at all? Does what happened with that team give you pause of where the economy is with this sport?
JEFF GORDON: I think it's certainly a wake-up call, you know, any of us are vulnerable. You know, I would have never thought that they would have struggled getting sponsorship. I'm sure Chip Ganassi thought they wouldn't struggle getting sponsorship. I'm sure they probably didn't think they'd struggle on the racetrack as much as they have either, especially the road course.
So, you know, again, we all can be vulnerable and it just makes you, you know, appreciate what you have, the sponsors that you have, and it makes you just work that much harder to try to stay competitive.
-credit: gm racing