POST-PRACTICE COMMENTS FROM JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: ON THE NEW GOODYEAR TIRE "It has a lot of grip. It's real fast. We were struggling a little bit with balance today. But they feel really good." WILL THE NEW TIRES...
POST-PRACTICE COMMENTS FROM JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
ON THE NEW GOODYEAR TIRE
"It has a lot of grip. It's real fast. We were struggling a little bit with balance today. But they feel really good."
WILL THE NEW TIRES CHANGE THE WHOLE COMPLEXION OF THE RACE?
"It's going to make qualifying faster. The best part of it that I'm looking forward to is the fall off in the race. (In the past) guys just stayed out there on tires and never come in to pit. It just takes a lot of pit strategy and adjustments you can make in the pits out of it. So I'm hoping we see the cars starting to fall off as the runs go on and the adjustments the teams and drivers make during the race become more important. That's something we've been missing over the past couple of years."
ON HIS RACE CAR
"We have a brand new car this weekend. It drives good. We're just not as fast as we'd like to be. But he last time we were here we did the same thing. We were 20-something fast in practice and qualified in the top 10. The track changes a lot when you qualify."
ON REPRESENTING THE UNITED STATES IN THE MICHELIN RACE OF CHAMPIONS NATIONS' CUP NOV. 29 - DEC. 1 IN GRAN CANARIA, SPAIN ALONG WITH JIMMIE JOHNSON AND TRAVIS PASTRANA
"I'm really excited about it. I can't remember exactly how it all worked out but Jimmie (Johnson) mentioned it to me and I thought it sounded awesome to be able to get a chance to drive a Rally car over in Europe and to be teamed up with Travis (Pastrana) and Jimmie. I thought that (sounded like it) would be a lot of fun. That's really what its all about is just doing something you don't get a chance to do everyday. We're going to be representing the U.S. and trying to be competitive but we're also going to have fun while we're there.
ON JAPANESE DRIVER, HIDEO FUKUYAMA, COMMUNICATING WITH HIS CREW CHIEF VIA INTERPRETER
"I can't communicate with my crew chief - especially the way things are going right now - in English. We communicate fine. Trying to figure out this place - and what it takes - the corners are so big and so fast - Robbie asks me for information and it's everything I can do to give him the right information. So I can't imagine what they're going through."
ON THE TIGHT POINTS CHASE
"Yeah, it's really tight. Every time you qualify, every time you race, and every position counts so much. We've had a real tough time trying to back up good finishes and keep them coming and keep them going. I hope that for the last nine races we can really start to do that. We put the pressure on the guys there for a couple of weeks and that felt great. It really got our confidence level up. And then the next two weeks, we weren't able to do that. So we've got to get that back."
IS THIS THE TOUGHEST POINTS RACE YOU'VE EVER BEEN IN?
"Well, I haven't even felt like I've been in a points race really. I feel like all we've been doing is focusing on our own program, trying to get better each week and just being as good a team as we can possibly be. However the finishes come, you've just got to live with them and go on to the next one. For some reason, we've been able to stay in the top five for a good part of the season, but we've never been able to really make that huge gain. But we're closer now than we've been in a long time. We're in the thick of this thing, bigtime. If we can get some spectacular things happening in the next five or six weeks, I think we've got a really good shot at it."
DOES EXPERIENCE HELP?
"Experience certainly helps but it's really about being competitive. It's really about putting great race cars out there, making smart calls in the pits, qualifying up front, and just being on top of your game. It's like Ryan Newman right now. It that guy was in the top four or five in points, I would say he'd had the advantage over everybody."
WILL THE NEW TIRE AFFECT PIT STRATEGY?
"I hope it does. I'm looking forward to having a tire that falls off so that you've got to come in and get four tires and make adjustments. Just staying out until the fuel runs out at a place like Dover is just ridiculous. That's what we've been doing here for the past couple of years. I'm looking forward to getting back to the way we used to race here. I think it brings the whole team and driver and whole combination more and more into it when the tires start to go away."
HOW WILL THAT HELP YOU?
"I hope it helps us. We're going to work real hard on the race set up and get a good balance on the car. In the past, when the tires have fallen off is when we've been the best. That's when things have been favorable for us."
HAVE YOU THOUGHT OF HAVING EXTRA SECURITY TO HELP YOU MAKE IT THROUGH THE FANS IN THE GARAGE AREA?
"No, I just fight my way through them and hope that somebody sees it and helps us one day (laughs). You can't be mean; you can't be rude. You've got to do the best that you can. You have to sign and walk at the same time. There are some places that are much more crowed than others. I feel like I've got good people around me to get through it and that's about all we can do right now. Our hands are tied. We don't have much of a choice."
DO YOU WORRY ABOUT GETTING HURT?
"No, we've got great fans. They're loyal. I feel comfortable with that side of it. A lot of times, I'm more worried about their safety than I am about my safety. Yeah, I've been stepped on and things like that, but I've seen people fall really hard because they're in such a group that is fighting so hard to get that autograph. I've seen people fall and be injured. I worry more about that than myself."
DO YOU THINK NASCAR SHOULD LIMIT THE NUMBER OF FANS ALLOWED INTO THE GARAGE AREA?
"Obviously they're looking at it and talking about it. It's important to keep the accessibility. That's a great part of our sport and we want to continue that. But there's got to be a balance. They've got to find a way that they can respect us and our time working in the garage, and we can respect them and their loyalty to our sport and give them something back also. It's really a hard balance. Right now, there's sometimes too many. You can't take care of them all. They look at that one opportunity, that one chance, and they go for it. You're just not going to make everybody happy."
WHY HAS THIS BECOME SUCH AN ISSUE NOW WHEN THE DRIVERS HAVE BEEN TALKING ABOUT IT FOR QUITE SOME TIME?
"We've always talked about it. You don't want to upset the fans and you don't want them to take it the wrong way. We're not trying to say we don't want them in here, we're just trying to say that we've got to find ways to work through the garage and work together. A lot of us have talked to NASCAR about it for year. Every time we've talked to them, we've never really found a solution that works for both of us. It's not that they haven't thought about it or tried, and it's not that we haven't, but it's just trying to find a solution."
-team monte carlo-