JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT/PEPSI MAX CHEVROLET met with members of the media at Auto Club Speedway and discussed two races at Auto Club Speedway, on-track retaliation and other topics. WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT RICK HENDRICK BEING ON THE ROSTER...
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT/PEPSI MAX CHEVROLET met with members of the media at Auto Club Speedway and discussed two races at Auto Club Speedway, on-track retaliation and other topics.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT RICK HENDRICK BEING ON THE ROSTER FOR VOTING INTO THE NASCAR HALL OF FAME?: "I would certainly love to see Rick (Hendrick) get inducted. You know he's going to eventually, but to be in that second class would be pretty amazing. He's been in the sport for a long time and has achieved an awful lot beyond just the success with the race teams. I think of what he's done in the sport. There's a lot of history in this sport and there's a lot of people on that list that deserve to be in there so looking forward to seeing who those five are whether Rick makes it or not."
IS THERE ANYONE BESIDES RICK HENDRICK ON THE LIST THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE INDUCTED?: "You're going to have to start going down the list and I'll give you my opinion. I think (David) Pearson is somebody that stands out to me that I would like to see in there."
DO YOU THINK THERE SHOULD BE ETIQUETTE BETWEEN CHASERS AND NON-CHASERS?: "I think that's the beauty of our sport and our whole Chase that we have is that what makes it unique is that you're racing against everybody out there and one of those challenges comes that you have to race those guys hard and clean and recognize that you're going for a championship. They have something out there to prove as well and they have to recognize the same thing. To me, you should not go into the Chase expecting guys that aren't in the Chase to give you any extra leeway. That's not the way it works. I had a heck of a battle with Ryan Newman last week and I felt like I was a lot faster than him. Had we got by him, it would have gotten us a couple extra spots. But he's racing for position, racing for things that are important to him and he didn't want to budge or give up on that so I respected that."
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO WIN AT AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY?: "I don't know, ask me after Sunday because it's been a while since we've won anywhere and this track is a tricky one. It's slick, the grooves move around during the race and we haven't had the success here recently that we've had in the past. Sometimes it takes fuel mileage. Sometimes it takes having a good car on the restarts. Sometimes pit strategy, but a lot of different things. I'll take a fast car anywhere we go, that always helps. It's going to be interesting this weekend being 400 miles instead of 500. How that's going to change things, of course it always depends on when the cautions fall and how they fall. Being a little bit shorter race I think it always more exciting. I'm anxious to see how it affects this one."
DID YOU TAKE CONTROL OF LAST WEEK'S RACE?: "I don't really remember, but I think if I go back to what we were talking about, we've had some issues this year where we started adjusting the car and the adjustments that we were making, like if you go back four or five years ago, those adjustments might help. This car, this day and age with some of the funky setups that we have, it just seems like if you start getting passed small adjustments -- air pressure, small track bar and wedge adjustments, it just seems like the whole car starts to go crazy and that's what I started to see happen last week is that we were making these adjustments and we started making bigger adjustments. It was all based on things I was asking for, but I felt like it was not taking the car in the right direction like it was actually making us go slower. I was just giving my feedback to Steve (Letarte, crew chief) and the guys. That's my job and their job is to try to give me what I need out there. Sometimes, I've got to back up and look at things that I'm saying and how I'm expressing it as to how that's affecting the calls and the adjustments that those guys make."
ARE YOU STILL SUPPORTIVE OF STEVE AND WORKING WITH HIM?: "Oh yeah, absolutely. No doubt about that. This is a team sport and I really believe in Steve (Letarte, crew chief) and I think he's an awesome crew chief. If I'm not giving him the proper feedback then I don't expect him to be able to make the right adjustments to help us go faster as the race goes on. I was real happy last week with the way we ended that race and I felt like we really made big gains there at the end and went from a ninth or 10th place car all the way up to fifth. Those are things we have to do more of. Those are things we did earlier in the year and then we started missing in the middle part of the year."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON CALIFORNIA LOSING A RACE?: "This race track has struggled. I think it's been obvious that while we have a great fan base out here and I think we want to maintain that, you have to look at the sport, the whole sport and everything that's going on. When you leave Kansas Speedway and we've got an incredible crowd and just a huge group of fans are there and you look at how that race track and surrounding areas are growing. They're building a casino and all those things. It just makes more sense for us to be there. Whether it's the economy, whether it's this market. They can't even get an NFL franchise to work in this area. There's something about this area that is really tough when it comes to sports franchises and sports entertainment in general. I think that right now it's the right move. Hopefully we can get back to selling out this race and utilizing this market because it is a great market and then maybe one day come back and have two races."
WHAT ARE THE KEYS TO RUNNING WELL AT CHARLOTTE?: "I love Charlotte and love going there. We weren't very good there in May so we've been really looking hard at our notes and setups and cars and trying to do some things to be better when we go back there. It's a very fast race track, high-banked and I think it's hard to pass there so qualifying is pretty important. We've been missing some of that the last couple times. I think we've learned some things since we were there and track position is important everywhere we go, but having a really well-balanced race car there is equally or more important."
DO YOU FEEL GOOD GOING BACK TO TEXAS KNOWING YOU WERE STRONG IN APRIL?: "I'm excited to go back to Texas just because we were so good there, I'm looking forward to seeing if we can go back there and be as good as well as where the competition is at. We're kind of on the fence for Texas because we feel like we've learned a lot since we were there, but at the same time, we were so good there that we wouldn't change a whole lot. I'm anxious to see just how our setup that we think is the best package, how it's going to work for us. It's the first time I've really looked forward to going to Texas for a second time just because we were so good there. I think we'll be good again."
DID YOU SEE THE NASCAR SOUTHPARK EPISODE?: "I did not. I read something about it and heard about it. To me, regardless of what the positive or negative spins are that all these shows put, I think it's still good publicity for the sport. Even if you're making fun of it, I think it's still getting attention that's pretty cool for us."
DID LAST WEEK'S SITUATION AT KANSAS BRING TO REALITY THAT A NON-CHASE DRIVER COULD TAKE OUT A CHASE DRIVER?: "I've never second-guessed that before. I think if a guy feels like he was taken out then I fully expect that they'll come back to get you. That's just part of racing. We hear about paybacks all the time, but sometimes they happen right away and sometimes they take time. David (Reutimann), he didn't like what happened and he chose to retaliate right away. I think if Kyle (Busch) was being honest, he would probably go back and rethink some of the choices that he made, not because he thinks that he did anything wrong, but just look at the outcome."
ARE YOU NOT OVERLY AGGRESSIVE BECAUSE YOU CAN FOCUS ON WINNING A CHAMPIONSHIP?: "My thing is this is that I know if I have no issues with a guy and I don't have any history with that person knocking me out of the way for a position, I know that if I make contact with him or if I wreck him, spin him, that's going to come back to me one day. That's just the way I've approached racing throughout my whole career. I go back to Sonoma and some things that happened there and I fully expect whether it happens this weekend, next weekend or whenever and those guys, the 19 (Elliott Sadler) and the 56 (Martin Truex Jr.), they've been racing me really, really hard. Bumps and taps and little things here and there. They haven't just clean taken me out. If it happens, you're not going to hear me say much about it."
IS IT MORE SIGNIFICANT THAT JIMMIE JOHNSON IS LEADING THE POINTS OR HOW TIGHT THE BATTLE IS?: "I think it shows just how strong they are when the Chase comes around. Those guys just have an ability to step up and each year they do it. Each year you think, 'Oh man, I think we have a shot at seeing a different champion this year.' Then those guys start backing it up right away with solid finishes even though they started New Hampshire a little rough. You just can't ever count them out. As tight as things are, I think everybody in the top-six or eight right now feel like they still have a shot at it. At the same time, you don't ever want to see that 48 (Jimmie Johnson) up there leading because those guys are just so tough and so strong that unless something happens to them, it's going to be hard to consistently beat them."
DID YOU FEEL CALIFORNIA WAS DESTINED FOR TWO RACES WHEN YOU WON THE FIRST ONE?: "Yeah, I think so. We've always had a great fan base in California. Even southern California. I don't think that was ever in question and it was cool to come back, great race track. I'm one that questions a lot of tracks having two races, not just here at California. We've put a lot of people in the grandstands, we're very fortunate to have as big of an audiences that we have, but makes you wonder when economy has some issues whether or not you can sustain that kind of audience. I think before the economy, we saw things tapering off here a little bit and when the economy hit, it didn't surprise me that it tapered off as much as it did here. I just look at southern California in genera, there's so much to do here, there's so many options for entertainment that it's very competitive. When you think about trying to put and not to mention traffic is bad here all the time anyway. You try to put 80 or 100, 000 people in the grandstands and do it twice a year, that's tough to ask around this area."
DID YOU GO TO CUP RACES IN CALIFORNIA WHEN YOU WERE A KID?: "I didn't know what a Cup car was when I lived in California, I'll be honest. I didn't know what NASCAR racing was until I moved to Indiana. Even though, my family on my dad's side, I found out they were all big NASCAR fans. I had no idea. I had raced for years and all I followed was sprint cars and Indy cars and I found out that they were NASCAR fans on my dad's side, but I had no idea."
DO YOU STILL KEEP UP WITH INDY CAR?: "A little bit. Not like I did when I was growing up as a kid. I was a big Rick Mears fan and Mario (Andretti) and AJ (Foyt) and (Al) Unser and those guys. I mainly watched the Indy 500 that was my thing. The series has changed a lot over the years and now with our schedule, it's hard to keep up with any other thing. I probably keep up with Formula 1 more than I keep up with anything."
ARE YOU CONCERNED THAT THERE ARE MORE PAYBACKS AT LARGER RACE TRACKS?: "Listen, we have to be big boys. If you're going to go out there and race at this series and at this level and do the things that we do, make the choices and decisions that we make then you're going to have to recognize that's just part of it. You can't pick and choose when paybacks are coming or where or what or how."
IS THIS A CHANGE FROM THE YEARS PAST?: "Nope. I think it's just a coincidence maybe that's the pattern. To me, the way I've always looked at paybacks is it just happens when it happens. It depends on how ruthless you are. If you feel like that person got you at a time when you had a shot at winning the race then you're probably going to try to take a win away from them. You have to kind of be in that position where you're out of it and you don't have a shot at it and you don't want them to win that race. It could be something like that. To me, it doesn't matter where you're at. I don't think anybody goes out there with any intentions of hurting anybody. That's not the case. This is why I try hard not to hit people. I know I'm not always successful at that. In my opinion, you don't know what the repercussions of that are and when they'll happen and I prefer not to take that chance. When I see and even when I go back to (Dale) Earnhardt and Rusty (Wallace), I used to see things that went on back then that always used to amaze me. Why would you do some of those things because surely they're going to get you back and you may not like when or where they get you back and you might end up in the hospital. That's why I try not to make too many enemies out there."
-source: gm racing