Continued from part 1 Q: You talked a moment ago, had such a consistent year, 10 top fives, 11 top 10s. Do you feel any frustration with not having won a race yet? JEFF GORDON: I think the only frustration I see is letting the wins that I...
Continued from part 1
Q: You talked a moment ago, had such a consistent year, 10 top fives, 11 top 10s. Do you feel any frustration with not having won a race yet?
JEFF GORDON: I think the only frustration I see is letting the wins that I feel like we really could have pulled off slip away. You know, Texas was disappointing because we got caught up in the wreck. The two that really stand out to me are Vegas and Phoenix. Even though I didn't feel like we had a dominating performance at Phoenix, we were in position. We were leading the race with two tires. I just didn't get a good restart. That one stands out to me as being frustrating because I don't feel like we should have lost that race.
In Vegas, hey, that's a tough call, your crew chief, whether you come down and take two or four. You know other guys are going to try to do the opposite of what you do. That one doesn't actually sting as much as a win at Phoenix.
The crash at Texas, that was just a bunch of guys, you know, trying different things and racing hard. That's going to happen.
I mean, those are a little frustrating to me, but I'm really proud of the top fives we've put together. I'd like to get back to being more dominant. We need to lead more laps. That's what was putting us in position to win races earlier in the season. We got off that a little bit. We weren't leading like we were. That's what's gonna get us back into Victory Lane. I feel like we're right there, though. We're just so close.
The consistency only helps build confidence and puts ourselves in position to get more laps led and get that win.
Q: I've often heard drivers say you race other drivers the way they race you. In this new have-at-it era where people develop a reputation for wrecking folks, does that influence how drivers race each other?
JEFF GORDON: I think that when you see things like what happened this past weekend, things we've seen throughout this season, I think that shows a lot about their character as a driver, their personality inside the racecar, which is their personality outside the racecar but just enhanced with the adrenaline inside the car.
I take my instances from like, say, Sonoma. I made a mistake when I got into Martin. But the other ones were just a little bit of frustration, a little bit of just the heat of the moment from the double-file restarts, which is adding a lot to it as well. These double-file restarts are crazy. You talk to any driver after the end of a race, if there's a green-white-checkered, it doesn't matter if it's at Daytona or Martinsville or where it is, the guys get out of the car and, man, that was just insane. It makes you do things that you otherwise really wouldn't want to do but you don't have a choice.
I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing for the sport. We're not out there to all be buddy buddy. We're out there to race hard, win races. If that puts on a great show for the fans, I think it's a win-win for everybody. But it's also going to make some enemies for you out there that you're going to have to deal with going forward.
I think there's a big difference between deliberate and an accident. There's hard racing and there's a mistake, then there's stupidity like my thing with Martin. Again, there's that racing hard, you push the envelope, get into a guy. To me, which is what I saw in Brad's move going into turn one. It's hard when you're inside the car. All you feel is the guy hit you. You don't know if he did it because he slid a little bit and slid up into you or because he just deliberately tried to knock you up out of the groove. I'm sure that played a big factor in Carl's move coming back.
Q: Do you think there's a false sense of security that these cars are safer than they really are?
JEFF GORDON: Well, the cars are extremely safe today, I will say. There's no guarantees, you know, never. Things can fly through the window, through the side window. That's the thing I saw with what happened this past week, was it was a lot more than just turning the guy coming to the start/finish line. There were 15, 20 cars behind that had nowhere to go that started bouncing off of Brad. That made for some really hard hits.
You're not considering that when you're out there racing for the win and you make a choice like that. But that sometimes can be the outcome, and it can be one you could regret later.
Q: Frank and Mary's have a shrine to you in Pittsboro. Did you get to frequent that place?
JEFF GORDON: Yeah. They've got the best fried catfish that I've ever had. That place is fantastic. I remember going there long before I ever lived in Pittsboro, where we used to visit the Stanley family who built our quarter midgets. I remember them taking us to Frank and Mary's because it was a great spot. Then moving to Pittsboro, it was certainly a place we went to pretty frequently.
It's awesome that they've built the shrine or whatever it is. I wish I could get a chance to go back there more often when we go for the race.
Q: In that Sports Illustrated roundtable a couple weeks ago, Greg Biffle was pretty critical of Pocono, where Kasey's car almost went over the fence. He said they need to do something there or somebody is going to get hurt badly. Do you agree with that? I know in the past you've had comments.
JEFF GORDON: I don't believe that what keeps cars from going outside the racetrack is a row of trees. I was kind of shocked when I saw the video afterwards that that's all there is. That's not a catch fence back there.
But, you know, Pocono is a great facility, great track. I love the people there. I know what their intentions are. That's to have a great racetrack and a very safe racetrack for the drivers and the fans. But I think there are always areas you can improve. I think that's an area they can improve in.
Q: Not to get off topic here, but I wanted to ask you about Watkins Glen, a place where it's been a while since you won there, but won there three years in a row. What do you like about that place? This gets talked about from time to time. Would you like to see a place like that or another road course in the Chase someday?
JEFF GORDON: I love Watkins Glen. It's a fairly easy road course for us, the course that we run, the shorter course. Sonoma to me has a lot of corners that there's finesse you have to put into it, where Watkins Glen is the exact opposite. Really aggressive, fast, how deep you can get into the braking zones, being on the gas hard, carrying a lot of speed.
I think it makes it a good course for our cars, a great course for our cars. It's a little disappointing to me that we haven't been as strong there lately as we have in the past. We actually did the tire test there with Goodyear a little bit earlier in the year. I'm excited about going back there this year. I think we've got a great shot. I think we've made our car a lot faster. Getting those laps were great for me.
I think it's going to be very tough to beat Marcos Ambrose, which he also showed in Sonoma. I think he's going to be even stronger in Watkins Glen.
But I think we've made some big improvements. Looking forward to getting back to the successful road course racing that we've had in the past. Hopefully we can do that this year.
Q: How important is track position across the board in the Sprint Cup Series?
JEFF GORDON: Well, I mean, it just depends on the track. It depends on whether a green-white-checkered comes out, those types of things.
I mean, I feel like in any form of racing, track position is always important. It's always important to be out fronts. I think these days, Daytona and Talladega might be the exception. In the past, where you might want to be out front, these days it's probably not the place to be. Other than that, track position is so huge.
I think this has kind of bit Mark Martin quite a few times this year where he hasn't qualified as good as he was hoping to, got midfield, and just can't make up the ground even those he's got a fast racecar. We've seen what he's done in the past. It's just so hard once you get back there to make your way forward.
Track position has become more and important in all forms of motorsports, including ours. It's just because of technology and what we learn about aerodynamics, making the cars stick better and go faster. All those things make track position that much tougher.
Plus we now have a car that's pretty much equal. Throughout the field, you look at qualifying every weekend, I mean, it's so tight. When the cars are all that close to one another, then they're all running about the same speed. Plus you take a car that punches a bigger hole in the air, it's definitely going to make track position that much more important.
We focused hard on qualifying this year, and I think it's paying off, as well as doing everything we can to get that track position.
Q: Jeff, I found it interesting your comment about how driver's personalities outside the car could be exacerbated, heightened, in the heat of the moment. As fans and media types, we only see really what those personalities are outside the car. From your perspective, knowing everybody the way you do, what is a more accurate personality, the one we see outside the car or the one we see on the racetrack?
JEFF GORDON: For me?
JEFF GORDON: I would probably say the closer one is the one inside the car. But you got to understand that's kind of the alter ego of everyone, where I think there's maybe more their true self, but it's also a lot of adrenaline, a lot of competitiveness that's coming out.
But I think that's the truer person. You got to understand, in front of the camera we're trying to represent our fans, the sponsors. You can be a little bit more careful with what you say, what you do. If you listen to the radio transmissions during the race, you see some of the things that happen on the racetrack, that's really who we are. You get to see how everybody reacts.
The thing that saves me and most of us out there is that we all kind of react in a similar way when that moment comes. But some of us have a shorter fuse. Some of us have a longer fuse. That's your personality. Some of us in how we react are maybe more calm about it, and some of us are less calm.
But to me that's more of the true personality is out there on the track.
HERB BRANHAM: Jeff Gordon, we appreciate you taking time today. Best of luck this weekend. Very big event, Brickyard 400.
JEFF GORDON: Looking forward to it. I know a lot of fans are as well. I thank all of the members of the media that joined us today. Appreciate it. See you this weekend:
HERB BRANHAM: As always, we appreciate the coverage very much. Thank you.