JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET met with media and discussed what it takes to be successful at Dover, his favorite trophies, stretches without wins, thrills outside of car racing, and more. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT RACING AT DOVER THIS...
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET met with media and discussed what it takes to be successful at Dover, his favorite trophies, stretches without wins, thrills outside of car racing, and more.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT RACING AT DOVER THIS WEEKEND?: "We're excited about this weekend. We had a big day at DuPont's headquarters in Wilmington (Del.) yesterday visiting as we do annually with their employees and customers as well. It was a beautiful day up there so it was great. Always an exciting weekend to us just to be able to pay tribute to all the support that we've gotten from them. We've been fortunate to win here over the years a number of times to really give them thanks. As well as our DuPont Chevrolet is running these days, we certainly have a lot of confidence in what we're doing and coming into this weekend to hopefully pull off a win."
HOW WOULD IT FEEL TO WIN THIS WEEKEND?: "I feel like every weekend we get to the track and there's something special about that track that would make it more meaningful to get that first win of the season and get back into victory lane. As you touched on, this is our 17th season now with DuPont. They've done so much for us for so many years and we love working with them. Try to give them thanks every chance we get so being in their backyard, this would be a sweet place to get a victory. Of course, right now we're not really biased to any track, we want to get a win and we're running good enough to win. Dover is just one of those tracks that's a good track for us. It was a little bit rough on us last year so we're hoping to rebound from that. The car felt good today and we have to get qualified in good. We drew the number one draw for qualifying which there could be worse place for that then here, but still you never like to do that. Qualifying is going to be important and then we go to work on the race for tomorrow. It's a big weekend for us."
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO FANS THINKING ABOUT GIVING NASCAR A TRY AND COMING TO DOVER THIS WEEKEND?: "The thing is right now is that the sport is selling itself because the racing has been phenomenal. We've seen some of the closest finishes, most action, not only at the end of the race, but throughout the race everywhere we've been. The double-file restarts, the green-white-checkereds, the spoiler -- there's just a lot of reasons right now why I think we're putting the best show in sports out each and every weekend. I think the ratings are starting to creep up and attendance, everybody has choices to make for their entertainment, but I think right now NASCAR races are, as they have been for a long time, but it seems like the last couple years I don't think the racing has been as good as it is right now. I think it's a great time to get back to the track."
DOES THE POSSIBILITY OF DRIVING FOR A SPONSOR OTHER THAN DUPONT SEEM ODD TO YOU?: "Yeah, you know, we've had enough associate sponsors that do quite a bit that we've had relationships where you work with Pepsi and how they go about things and you see the differences. National Guard and Quaker State and each of them does something unique and different that's special to the program. Being involved with DuPont for all these years, I can't imagine working with anybody else from a primary sponsor standpoint and I didn't say they weren't coming back, just saying we're in discussions with them. With the economy, the way it's been in the past couple years, you just don't know exactly where it's all going to play out. I feel pretty confident that we're going to work something out with them and continue to work with them in the future. We're in discussions with all that right now so we're not really ready to talk about the details."
WOULD YOU EVER WANT TO GO SKYDIVING OR SEEK OUT OTHER THINGS FOR A RUSH OTHER THAN DRIVING A RACE CAR?: "I think all race car drivers have a little bit of thrill-seeking in them. I think it's just in your nature. I've always wanted to jump out of an airplane, I've always thought it would be awesome. But I never thought it was something I would do while I was racing. Not so much I'm afraid of dying, I'm afraid of getting injured and not being able to get in the race car. I think that it's twisted ankle, broken foot, little things -- twisted knee, that's something I'm not prepared to do right now. Especially with our relationship with National Guard. We've talked about it and Brian Vickers has done it quite a few times. I'm going to do it, I'm just hoping I don't get too old when that time comes that I decide I don't want to do it or that my heart's going to allow me to do it."
DOES THE FACT THAT YOU HAVE BEEN DOMINANT AND NOT ABLE TO WIN SHOW HOW HARD IT IS TO WIN CUP RACES?: "It does. The competition is really tight. I think it also shows what double-file restarts and green-white-checkered finishes do to the sport. On one hand, they make it really exciting, but for somebody like myself, when we've had the dominant cars, the cautions didn't fall right. When we've gone out there and tried to still win under a late-race caution, the green-white-checkered or the caution didn't fall right for us. There's a lot of different ways to win races these days and sometimes the fastest car wins and sometimes they don't. Last week when we had the four fresh tires and had the fast car, the caution didn't fall out where the previous races it did. I just believe that as good as our team is, as good as our cars are right now, we just keep doing what we're doing, those wins are going to come and those opportunities are going to fall our way. We're not really getting too caught up in it right now."
LAST WEEK BETTY WHITE HOSTED SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE AND THERE WAS A LOT OF BUZZ ABOUT THAT. IS THAT SOMETHING YOU'D LIKE TO DO AGAIN?
"Ah, I mean it was a thrill of a lifetime and I would love to do a skit here and there but you know, it's a seven day commitment. And it's very nerve-wracking and a lot of pressure and completely out of my element. So, I guess now, knowing what goes into it, maybe I'd be a little more comfortable doing it again. And I'm thrilled that I did it once. But it's kind of one of those checkmarks, where you've done it and you're like yes, I can say that I did that. But I don't know if it's necessarily something I'd want to go back and do again (laughs). But it was a lot of fun. At first you've got to get offered to do it. I got offered to do it; I did it, and if the offer ever came back, I would probably do it."
YOU'VE GONE THROUGH STRETCHES BEFORE WHEN YOU HAVEN'T WON RACES, BUT HAVE YOU EVER BEEN AS GOOD AS YOU'RE TEAM HAS BEEN RECENTLY WITHOUT WINNING RACES? ALSO, HAVE THE GREEN-WHITE-CHECKERED FINISHES PAINTED THE PICTURE THAT THE BEST TEAMS AREN'T NECESSARILY WINNING THE RACES EVERY WEEK?
"Yeah, I think that's a pretty good assessment. This is why I don't compare past history to what's going on today. The point system is different, the cars are different, the green-white-checkereds are different, and the double-file restarts. Had we had single-file restarts, we would have won three races I think right now. It's just that much different when you start single-file, especially if you start double-file with the lapped cars on the inside like we used to. It's just totally different. You still have to win under these conditions, so it's important that you get it right. You don't spin the tires on those restarts and that your car takes off good. And I think that right now, you've got a lot of guys experimenting and teams that are solid. Of course everyone is trying to win races but you're also trying to get yourself really ready for the Chase and to win the championship. I really don't think there is anything we could do different to have won those races other than me spinning the tires at Phoenix. I really don't think there is anything that could have been done differently to have gotten victories right now. I think that those races, if they happened over again, and the cautions fell a little bit different, then we'd be sitting here with quite a few victories. So we're not really sitting here worried or upset about it. That's just how racing is. And I really haven't even thought about trying to compare it to the past when we've led that many laps and not won. I don't even know. If we get 10 or 15 more races into the season and we haven't won and we're continuing to run as good as we are, then I'll be concerned."
WHAT MAKES DOVER SO TOUGH? WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO ALLOW YOU TO HAVE SUCCESS HERE?
"This place is tough because it's all corners. High-banked, very fast, long corners. When you're in the corners that long, the car has got to be right. You've got to have a really good feel. Getting the balance right here is difficult because if you get the car too comfortable, the front end doesn't turn and it pushes and then you lose your speed. If you get the car turning too good, the back end wants to come around and you lose your speed. To get the balance right here is very challenging; not to mention there's some big compressions and bumps getting in the corner that challenge our engineers and shock and spring combinations. So it's just giving really good feedback to the team that you feel like is limiting you from going fast and getting the balance right. The concrete, also, doesn't have as much grip as say a paved track. So it's just one of those things where you're on the edge all the time around this track. The teams that can get the car to work the best on the edge like that is the ones that are going to have a shot at winning."
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE UNIQUE TROPHY THAT YOU'VE WON IN YOUR CAREER?
"They all have the same meaning even though they're all different shapes and sizes, they all mean a lot. I guess maybe a Daytona 500 or a Brickyard 400 might be a little bit extra special, but there's not a trophy I don't like (laughs). The Monster trophy here is very cool and certainly one that the kids like. So I'd like to take that back to my daughter. I think she'd have a lot of fun playing with that trophy and looking at that trophy and I'd have to try to protect the trophy from her. So, we're hopeful we'll get a chance to do that here this weekend."
-source: gm racing