Jeff Gordon -- ...
Jeff Gordon -- #24 DuPont Chevrolet
Note: The announcement was made today for the USA Race of Champions team with drivers Jeff Gordon and motorcross racer Travis Pastrana.
LAST YEAR YOU MISSED THE R.O.C. EVENT BECAUSE YOU WERE UNDER THE WEATHER Yeah, I was really bummed out about that because I did the Canary Islands a couple of years back, and when I heard about the event in Paris, the great drivers that were going to be there, man I was pumped. Jim came to me and I felt that we had a great team put together with Jimmie Johnson and myself. That week I don't know what hit me, but it was pretty bad and I wasn't able to make it over there. I told Jim, I said I'll be there next year. I'm committed and I'm really happy to have Travis Pastrana. I'm a huge fan of his and the guy is fearless and he's been doing a lot of rally-racing as well. So, he's going to go up against some great rally drivers, but it should be a lot of fun. We're going to win. We've got a competitive team here and the event went over really well last year and it should be great this year.
LAST YEAR YOU AND RALLY DRIVER MARCUS GRANHOLM HAD AN INCIDENT. CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THAT? Yeah, you know, it just goes to show you-don't always put all your trust in who you're riding with, no matter how professional and how many races they've won. You know, I was really looking forward to riding with Marcus, obviously one of the top guys in his field and we went out there and I had driven some Seats but not quite the full-blown rally car that we were riding in. You know, we took off the from the line and we went through the first corner and I was like, wow! I realized just how far off I was as a driver in those cars, and how amazing that car was. I couldn't believe how aggressive he was going and we went into the second corner and I saw him turn into the corner and then he turned back, because he turned in a little too early, then I heard him go "uh oh." It seemed like everything got really quiet at that moment and we just started barrel rolling. And I hadn't done that since I had been in the midget or sprint car in years. You know, I was very excited once it stopped and I got out of the car and realized I was okay. Then I started jumping up and down and thought it was the greatest thing ever.
YOU'RE RACING TO FINISH 11TH IN THE CUP STANDINGS AND YOU'RE ALSO HOPING TO WIN AS A CUP OWNER WITH JIMMIE JOHNSON. THE BANQUET IS IN NYC ON DEC 2ND, SO TALK ABOUT THE LOGISTICS YOU'LL HAVE TO PLAN TO GET TO THIS EVENT? Well, we talked about that last year as well. Both Jimmie and I were going to have to go to the banquet with a shot at the championship to that week. We just worked with Jim on trying to come up with all the different scenarios and that's what we're doing right now. If Jimmie wins that championship, I want to be there and support him and be a part of that. I think it would be spectacular and at the same time, I do have a commitment to this event. We'll do everything possible in our power to be there in time to get practice and be the best we can possibly be.
RE: THIS SEASON IN NASCAR, DO YOU SEE SOME NERVOUS COMPETITORS OUT THERE GIVEN THERE ARE ONLY THREE RACES REMAINING? You know, I think we're all focused on our own challenges. Whether it be us trying to get until 11th. Obviously I'm in contact with Jimmie and he's always even-toned and he seems to be focused and ready for whatever comes his way.
THIS IS A PLACE WHERE YOU'VE NEVER WON. WITH THE WAY THINGS HAVE GONE THESE PAST WEEKS, DO YOU THINK THIS COULD BE THE TIME WHEN YOU COULD GET OVER THAT HUMP? As far as we're concerned, things are going great. I feel like we're having a lot of fun out there because we really don't have a lot of pressure on us. We've gotten some race cars together that have really been strong. The team has been on top of their game and communication is good. Things are going our way, so right now we're having a lot of fun. We're enjoying every week and we've got some good things happening this weekend. This track, it wasn't good to us earlier this year and that's something that is a real goal of ours-when we run real bad at a place, it is a real goal to turn it around. We learn enough that we can apply what we're learning now for next year.
WHEN YOU TALK TO JIMMIE, DO YOU GET THE SENSE THAT HE DOESN'T WANT TO COME IN SECOND PLACE AGAIN THIS YEAR? I don't even need to have that conversation with Jimmie. I know how bad he doesn't want to finish second. I think that he knows that they've been so close and they've got what it takes and he's going to work as hard as he can to try to make sure that, because.you never know whether you're going to be in that position again the next year. You've got to take advantage of it while it's presenting itself. And I think those guys feel like, last year had they not had the problems at the beginning of the Chase, they probably would have won the championship. But you can't look at it like that. You either get it or you don't. And they're in a great position.
IS THERE A DANGER IF THEY PRESS TOO MUCH? I think they've got to stick to what they know and do their thing. Right now they need to not even think that they're behind 43 or whatever points. It's nothing and they need to just run their race and do what they do best. Which is fight all day long until it's over. I think that this championship, like most of them, is going to be won by somebody making a mistake, not by somebody that just goes out there and beats all the competition.
WITH YOUR NEW CREW CHIEF, DO YOU HAVE A RENEWED SENSE THAT YOU WANT TO TAKE HIM TO VICTORY LANE AT ALL THE BIG RACES LIKE YOU DID WHEN ROBBIE LOOMIS TOOK OVER? Yep. I do. Ever since I started thinking about Steve being my crew chief, it was that I couldn't want for him to get his first victory. And I want to see him, I want to be a part of him getting his first championship. You can start dissecting that down to Brickyards and Daytona 500s and all that, but I'm not going to get picky. I think that we've got a team capable of winning races and championships and I think Steve has, other that the experience, he has what it takes. He's getting that experience in hurry, and he's like a sponge. He's like a newborn child, they just soak it all up. And he seems to be handling that all so well. I'm really excited for him.
HE SOUNDS EXPERIENCED ON THE RADIO Yeah, he seems young and confident. I think it takes a unique personality to be able to be a crew chief. You know, the good crew chiefs always have that ability to step up to the plate when it's on the line. You just don't expect it to happen from guys who are 26 years old and have never been in that position. I don't know, I've just always sensed something about Steve that when the time was right. And the time has just worked out to be perfect for everybody.
IS IT CERTAIN THAT HE'LL BE BACK AS CREW CHIEF FOR THE CAR NEXT YEAR? Yes.