Fontana II: Jeff Gordon - GM Top-10 interview

BEHIND THE HAULER CHAT WITH JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT MONTE CARLO SS: ON THE WEEKEND SCHEDULE AT CALIFORNIA SPEEDWAY: "I must say, I haven't talked to NASCAR about it, I know I have spoken with them in the past, but it is frustrating to come...


ON THE WEEKEND SCHEDULE AT CALIFORNIA SPEEDWAY: "I must say, I haven't talked to NASCAR about it, I know I have spoken with them in the past, but it is frustrating to come out here with this track schedule. It just doesn't make any sense from when we practice to when we race. Probably the only thing half way decent is when they schedule qualifying because it starts a little later. We practice in the heat of the day when it is really hot and slick. The biggest concern is we race starting at 5:00 on and we don't have a single practice in the early morning or late afternoon or evening to get even close to the same track conditions we will race on."

ON CAR SETUP FOR ENGINE LIFE AT CALIFORNIA SPEEDWAY: "We leave that up to the Hendrick Engine department. They know we need the most power we can possibly get that will last all day. The guys in our engine department are the best in the business in my opinion and they know. The only adjustment we may make is where we want to move the power around based on the camshaft. We may play with the power up off the corner, we may play with it a little bit more at the end of the straight away. I feel like our engine department is strong and good right now and we always keep our fingers crossed that it is going to last because these hot conditions are tough on engines. These long straight aways, they don't get much of a breather and we just hope they hang in there."

ON ATTENTION PAID TO OTHER CARS WITH CHASE POSSIBILITIES DURING RACE: "It just depends on where you are running. If you aren't running good and you are in the back, you just have to get better. You just have to focus on your own program. We try to do that as often as we possibly can. I think as we wind down now that we are closer to Richmond and then New Hampshire, we definitely are aware of where they are at so anything you can do to stay ahead of them is great. It is just like last week in the closing laps, we were battling with Denny Hamlin. I battled really really hard to stay ahead of him, probably more than I normally would."

ON DEFINING MOMENT SO FAR THIS SEASON: "There are numerous races that you go to that you feel like the fight you put up was the one that got you in the Chase or won you the championship. Silly things happen along the way that take you out. There are so many, it is hard to really pinpoint one. I would have to kind of go through them and be asked about them individually."

ON AFFECT HEAT HAS ON EVERYONE: "It is hot here and the track is slick, so it definitely affects the competition. Everyone is trying to get grip on the racetrack. It is the same for everyone so that is the good thing. You know what, when you are in the race car you really don't think about it much. When a caution comes out, or sitting in the garage area, you realize how hot it is. When you are out there at that speed, you are so focused on what is going on you don't really pay any attention to how hot is really is, even though it is really hot."

ON HOW TO IMPROVE CALIFORNIA SPEEDWAY: "This is a nice race track. It could be done a little bit better. From what I hear there are plans that are happening to consider doing some things to make some improvements. I don't think the whole place needs to be torn down. I just think that turns one and two are a little bit too flat for this size race track and I think they could do some things that would help and make a little bit more side-by-side racing. Turn one is just so tricky. You are 200-plus mph getting in there, especially in these hot, slick conditions, you drive down to the bottom and the car just doesn't have a lot of grip downforce wise, it is there but the banking isn't there to hold the car."

ON BEING COMFORTABLE IN POINTS POSITION FOR THE CHASE: "I am probably more comfortable than the guy in 11th, but no, there are really no comfortable places out there right now other than the guys that are locked in. Every lap of every race and every position and point are just so crucial that can't take anything for granted and you have to fight as hard as you can until the checkered flag waves. I guess I was a little bit disappointed with a fifth place last week at Bristol because I knew they guys I am racing in points were right around me. We had a car capable of finishing better than fifth and we didn't do it. It is all about living up to your full potential and we have been doing a great job of fighting here lately, we have some top-fives, but there are two races that stick out in my mind, Watkins Glen and Indianapolis, we didn't have top-10s but we fought really hard to get the finishes we did get. Here we are fifth in points but it is certainly not a very comfortable fifth."

ON COMFORTABLE AT RICHMOND: "It is a place that I look at where I have been consistent the last few races. It is probably the track where we have not had the success we would like to have but we are certainly optimistic to turn that around. That hasn't been the case the last few times we have been there. We really need to capitalize this weekend here in California as much as we can. We are going to do everything we can to be better than we have in the past, and turn that luck around. We certainly don't want to go in there and rely on just Richmond. It is just added pressure that we would like to not have."

ON EQUAL APPLICATION OF RULES IN INSPECTION BY NASCAR: "Every year, NASCAR learns more about what the teams are doing and how to inspect the cars and how to create less gray areas. The thing is that even though there were more gray areas a few years ago, we didn't really know how to capitalize on them as much as we did today so they have to narrow that down."

ON KYLE BUSCH: "Definitely over the last year and a half, he has matured a lot on the race track. That just comes from laps on the race track. We have all been through it, he is still very young and a great talent and a very aggressive driver. The younger you come in to the sport, the longer it takes to learn those lessons, but he is doing a great job."

ON RACING IN SOUTH AMERICA: "I think if it wasn't for such long travel, we could do that but our schedule is so tight and compact now, it would be tough. I think we would love to break in to those markets, especially with Juan Pablo (Montoya) coming in to the sport next year I think there is a real impact that we could make in those countries. We just can't. We tried Japan; we just can't afford the time of the travel further than Mexico or Canada. Those are our limits."

ON MENTALLY PREPARING FOR RACE DAY: "When you have been doing this as many years as I have, it just kind of comes naturally. Basically it is just a routine. It really isn't mental preparation because I am really busy on race mornings. I do a couple of hospitality tents for my sponsors, when I come back from that, I go to the driver's meeting. After that, when I come back to the transporter with the team is when I start thinking about the race. When we start talking a little bit about the plan for the day, when I start stretching and really loosening up my body, that sort of clears my mind."

ON LEVEL OF NERVOUSNESS BEFORE A RACE: "A little sometimes. I am probably not the friendliest person in the world moments before the race. I try not to be distracted more than anything else. Some races are more than others. It seems like Daytona, the first race of the year, I seem to have more butterflies, or be a little more on edge at track, it is a big race for us than maybe some others."

ON MAINTAING MOTIVATION TO RACE AT THIS LEVEL: "The thing that has kept me interested in racing all these years is the competition and the challenge of getting in to victory lane. That challenge gets greater and greater every year. The challenge gets greater and greater every year and that keeps me motivated and keeps the team motivated. If you are not where you want to be and have experienced success in the past, you are constantly on that search to find it again. It is not hard to lose that edge. The rules change, the tires change, the competition gets greater. Everybody is out there constantly trying to get better and better. Sometimes if you are successful that can be your worst enemy because that makes you want to make less changes for the next year because you had a good combination and sometimes that can get you behind."

ON NEED TO WIN TO SOLIDIFY PLACE IN THE CHASE: "I would like to win. I don't think we have to win, I don't think you have to win a race to win the championship at all if you are consistent. But would we like to win, yes, that is why we are out here. Matt (Kenseth) has two wins in a row and he has the momentum to build their confidence. Somebody has to break that down and we would like to be one of them to do that to really to give ourselves the momentum for the championship run."

ON ANY OF SETUPS OF HENDRICK CARS BEING THE SAME: "None. The setups are completely different. We share a lot of information among the teams, all of them to try and make ourselves the best we can. We are all running pretty good and pretty good here."

ON ANY ADDITIONAL AGGRESSIVE DRIVING AMONG CHASE CONTENDERS IN POSITIONS FOUR THROUGH 12: "You have to be careful not to be to aggressive too early. You have to finish the race first, to get the solid finish. If you get to aggressive, then that can get you in trouble. I think if you are racing those guys late in the race, you have to weigh out the risk versus the gain. For us, it is so tight between fourth through 10th that it is really about making sure we are ahead of the guy who is in 11th. We want to come out of here with a solid finish. Like any race, there is a time when you are patient and a time you are aggressive."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Denny Hamlin