Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Dupont Chevrolet Monte Carlo, discussed the 10th annual Brickyard 400 and other NASCAR topics during interviews at the Winston Breakfast Club lunch at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Gordon will make his 350th...
Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Dupont Chevrolet Monte Carlo, discussed the 10th annual Brickyard 400 and other NASCAR topics during interviews at the Winston Breakfast Club lunch at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Gordon will make his 350th Winston Cup career start at Sunday's Brickyard 400. He has three victories, three poles, five top-fives, and seven top-10 finishes in nine Brickyard 400 events.
COULD THE BRICKYARD 400 EVER BE AS BIG AS THE DAYTONA 500?
"It's going to be hard to ever replace the Daytona 500 in our sport. It would be like the IRL running in Daytona and trying to replace that with the Indy 500. The Daytona 500 is always going to be our Super Bowl. It's hard to really compare the two. They're really different in a lot of ways, yet equally special. I've always looked at this race as the significance of what it means to me, not necessarily what it means in the sport. Every time I drive in here that special feeling never goes away."
IS IT HARD TO TREAT THIS LIKE ANY OTHER RACE WHEN IT'S SUCH AN AMAZING PLACE?
"It is hard to do because of the facility and the attention it gets I think there is added pressure to go all out. But when you put that helmet on and get inside the car and drive out onto the track, and once you get up to speed, you're really not thinking about anything else except the speed of that race car."
WHY IS INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY SO SPECIAL TO YOU?
"I guess just because as a kid, I remember coming here. I remember the first time I came here in the early 1980's when I was racing quarter Midgets. We came over here and went to the museum and did the tour with the bus and all that. I couldn't imagine racing in a facility like this. It was even more than a dream. It was too much to even sink in. The facility in general is so immaculate. They really put a lot of effort into keeping this place state of the art and first class. It's just a special feeling that you have about this place when you've been a part of the Indy 500 and you've been a part of the Brickyard 400. It's a place where every series in motorsports wants to be."
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT RACING BACK TO THE YELLOW?
"I think you do whatever you feel like doing. When the caution comes out, I'm not racing unless the guy behind me races. I'm not racing unless it's coming to the white flag or for the win at the end of the race. There are so many different scenarios. If I've got a fender inside a guy and we're side by side and the caution comes out, I feel like we were racing before the caution came out so you keep racing. If a guy tries to pass me under caution, I'm going to try and keep him from passing me. There are so many variables. There is no one solid answer. It's not a black and white situation."
IS THE MEDIA BLOWING THIS WHOLE GENTLEMAN'S AGREEMENT THING OUT OF PROPORTION?
"I think it's been blown out of proportion. I think the real story is what's changed with track position and competition. It's so hard to make a position up which is why you see guys risking fuel mileage. You see guys taking two tires instead of four tires. You see so many things changing. When it's that competitive and that difficult to pass and win races, then you look at any advantage you can possibly get. If there is one that you can get when the caution comes out, then you might think about taking it."
ON QUALFIYING FOR THE BRICKYARD 400
"I was looking at the statistics on our press release and I don't have any clue how I've won three poles here. Actually, I don't know how I've won three races either. To me, this is one of the hardest places to win a pole. It's a very challenging lap. It's a very aggressive lap. The car has to be right, the power has to be right, and the power has to be on. And I've qualified 17th and 25th the last couple of times I've been here. So I'm hoping we get that back and that we've got all the ingredients to put a great lap out there."
WHAT'S THE KEY TO WINNING THIS RACE?
"Being the leader when you come off of Turn 4 (laughs). I don't know. I've been in positions where I've had the fastest car all day. I've been in positions where I've had a 25th place car but we were able to get it in position to win. So, it's just a total effort. I think that power, aero, driver, pit crew -- this is one of those places where you have to have it all."
DO YOU HAVE SPECIAL PLACES FOR ANY PARTICULAR TROPHIES, AND IS THIS ONE OF THEM?
"Definitely. At the new race shop we built, we built an area for every trophy -- every victory that's happened to us over the years. That's pretty cool for me. A lot of drivers don't really make a shrine at home for all their trophies and accomplishments but they usually have some area of the house that's separated from normal home life to remember some of the great moments of their careers. I have that. My house in Florida has that where I do have my Brickyard 400 trophies. I have both Daytona 500 trophies there. When I built the house I only made room for two Winston Cup trophies because I hadn't won three or four. So I have two there. And I have both Goodyear trophies that they give to the champion. I also have my IROC win trophy. I think I've got the Bill France 'man of the year' or whatever that award was. I think that was pretty cool. That's about it -- plus my golf ball signed by Tiger Woods."
HOW WAS YOUR FUNDRAISER BOWLING TOURNAMENT YESTERDAY?
"It was great. We had a lot of fun. You don't have to know how to bowl to have a good time. We raised a lot of money for the Riley Hospital for Children. We raised $100,000 for them. The Jeff Gordon Foundation is doing really well. I went to the hospital yesterday. It's one of the top children's hospitals in the world and I'm proud to be associated with them. We made a dent in it -- they need more help than that -- they've got a lot of great things on the drawing board. But we were glad to do a little something for them."
WHEN WINSTON CUP FIRST CAME TO THE BRICKYARD 10 YEARS AGO, DO YOU THINK THAT LAUNCHED NASCAR INTO THE POPULARITY IT NOW ENJOYS?
"I would definitely say it's one of the things that did it. I won the 600 in Charlotte and have had some huge moments. I won this race and it changed my life. I didn't go to Disney World after I won the 600. I went to Disney World after I won this race. The fan base changed. The sponsorship awareness changed. Everything just went to a whole new level. I think it had a lot to do with the Brickyard."
WAS THAT A LAUNCHING PAD FOR JEFF GORDON?
"I know I'll never be able to accomplish anything greater than wining that inaugural Brickyard 400.
HOW DOES WINNING THE DAYTONA 500 COMPARE TO WINNING A BRICKYARD 400, OR IS IT A MATTER OF COMPARING APPLES AND ORANGES?
"It's apples and oranges the way I look at it because it was a dream of mine to come here and race. I thought it would be in an open wheel car, not a stock car. I remember when I moved down south and pretty much threw away the dream of racing here until NASCAR said they were ready to come here. All of a sudden I had whole new enthusiastic impression about Indianapolis. That was just to come here and race. I just always wanted to race here. I had no idea I was come here and win."