JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Kansas Speedway and discussed racing at Kansas Speedway, Tiger Woods, Joey Logano's crash at Dover, and more. WHAT'S IT GOING TO TAKE TO GET ANOTHER WIN OUT HERE THIS ...
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Kansas Speedway and discussed racing at Kansas Speedway, Tiger Woods, Joey Logano's crash at Dover, and more.
WHAT'S IT GOING TO TAKE TO GET ANOTHER WIN OUT HERE THIS WEEKEND? "Well you know it's obviously going to take a lot of hard work. Getting the car balanced out. This track matures every year and the grip level goes away a bit. Obviously getting as much grip in the car as we possibly can is what we search for. We only come out here once a year. I think it's a great race track and I think this is a track that is good for us for the Chase and just for a lot of reasons. I'm excited to get back to a 1.5-mile track now in the Chase because I feel like that's been where we've really made improvements from last season. We're a little bit further behind than where we like to be at this point so far but by no means out of it and what we do over these next three or four weeks are going to make a huge impact on our chances."
AS YOU LOOK AT THE CURRENT CHASE STANDINGS ASIDE FROM YOURSELF IS IT KIND OF WHAT YOU FIGURED WITH THE NO. 48, NO. 5 AND EVEN THE NO. 42? "I think that it's no surprise to see the No. 5 and the No. 48 up there. I thought we would have been right there with them. The No. 42 I think is somebody that's really come on strong in the middle part of the season and I think they've shown a little bit more strength than I thought they even would so they've been impressive. I think I thought Tony (Stewart) would have been a little bit stronger in the first two races than he was. I would say other than that you never know what to predict. I really don't. I don't go into it going this is the guy to beat, this is who is going to be easy to beat. I don't do that. I went into it truthfully believing that all 12 guys have a shot at it. Until you go through the paces and every week you really don't know what it's going to take. I think it's even way too early to even say right now that the No. 5 and the No. 48 have this things wrapped up. They don't. There's a lot that's going to happen."
JOEY LOGANO HAD A PRETTY DRAMATIC HIT LAST WEEKEND, DO YOU REMEMBER YOUR HARDEST HIT AND AFTERWARDS DID IT AFFECT THE WAY YOU RACED? "Well his is a totally different type of crash. I've had some really bad hits where you hit driver side to a non-safer barrier or wall which is not a lot of fun but he tumbled several times. It's a scary wreck and certainly takes some big shots. It's been since I drove a sprint car midget that I've had that kind of a crash. I would say that my biggest hits came Las Vegas a couple of years ago was a big hit, Pocono was a really big hit and it's only recently that we started measuring the impact. So you can only sort of say this is what I felt and this seemed to me to be one of the bigger hits. But going back to Texas and I don't remember what year it was, either '97 or '99 something like that, we had a huge, huge impact at Texas. Again different, it was just a blown right front tire, one shot, right front to the wall. Those are usually the worst hits or the driver passenger side that slaps the wall. With the safer barrier it certainly takes a lot of the impact away. When I saw Joey's it was just one of those perfect storms where he gets spun around and just as he's impacting the wall a car gets into him that got underneath the car. Because the car hits the wall and as it hits it sort of bounced and gets a little bit light. As it got light there was a car there to pick him up and send him rolling."
DOES A WRECK LIKE THAT SLOW YOU DOWN AS A DRIVER? "It did for a couple of days. I had to test at Phoenix the next two days so I wasn't having a lot of fun at Phoenix. I think the things that slow you down as a driver is when you make a mistake. As a driver you feel like you're in control of it and even if you get loose or whatever happens, when you make a mistake that gets you into a bad wreck then that will take you back a little bit for a little while but it doesn't take long to build back up to that. I mean I don't know. I'll be surprised if that slows Joey down."
DO YOU GUYS KEEP TRACK OF YOUR HITS AND THE G'S AND GO TO THE DOCTOR LIKE EVERY SIX MONTHS AND ADD EVERYTHING UP AND SAY WELL MAYBE I SHOULDN'T HIT THE WALL NEXT WEEK OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT? "I can't remember (laughter). I think any time I've had a big impact I've been thoroughly checked out. I've had some MRI's done. You can really only tell based on those things and a few little motor skills. I definitely feel like over my career I've had some very, very slight concussions but I've never been knocked out in a crash. I think that goes a long way towards your future. I don't know what other guys do. I'm pretty thorough about the medical attention I do within myself as well as what NASCAR does. So if I ever felt like there was a situation that needed to have a lot more follow up and attention then I would and I feel like I have good enough people around me that if they recognized something like that they would also highly recommend it."
FORBES CALCULATED THIS WEEK THAT TIGER WOODS IS THE FIRST SPORTS FIGURE TO EARN A BILLION DOLLARS IN HIS CAREER. IS THAT A STAGGERING FIGURE TO YOU THAT A PROFESSIONAL GOLFER IS NOW A BILLIONAIRE? "He's been a phenomenon ever since he came along in just out of the amateur ranks. There are certain individuals that come along in a sport, or you could say somebody like Bill Gates, you know. There are certain people who come along in the world who change the way you look at that industry. I don't like to watch golf if Tiger's not playing. I'm one of those millions that is why he has been able to do what he's done. He makes far more money in endorsements than he does actually playing golf. That's not the case in our sport or many sports. He is a very rare individual. It's for good reason. Michael Jordan was the same way. There are certain individuals who change how you perceive the sport, how you follow it; and they have a following beyond just that game of golf, is the way I look at Tiger. I really think he's done an excellent job in how he's handled himself, the things that he's associated himself with, and it's still unfathomable that he has made the impact that he's made from a financial standpoint. But obviously it works.
"Another thing that is so huge about Tiger and golf is its world-wide. It's not just the U.S. That really is the difference between he and Michael Jordan is that other than the Olympics, the NBA has its limitations, even though basketball is played around the world, unlike golf. They might play golf somewhere on another planet. I don't know. And if they did, they'd want to play with Tiger (laughs). He's just that one rare guy that's come along and has lived up to the expectations or exceeded them. He's very marketable and has obviously surrounded himself with some very smart people to help him make good decisions."
TALK ABOUT THE TRACK SURFACE AT KANSAS SPEEDWAY "I love this track. It's a great track. I really like all the tracks that have a surface like this one. Basically what happens is the newer pavement that we're seeing, such as Darlington, and I don't have the details, but it just has a different type of polymer in the aggregate and how it wears. This is not one of those newer surfaces so the aggregate is raised up to the top and you have a much more abrasive surface and it seems to get more abrasive every year we come back here, which makes the fall-off from a new tire to an older tire more drastic. It widens out the groove and makes multiple grooves to see great racing. They did a really nice job building this race track. There are a few new bumps that as we get into this car and haven't been here in a while that pop up, but other than that I think we're going to see a really great race because of the multiple grooves."
ON THE NO. 48 AND NO. 5 BODY TOLERANCES AT DOVER, CAN YOU EXPLAIN HOW YOU CAN BE CLOSE TO OUT OF BOUNDS? "You've got a really, really good question there, but you've just asked it to the wrong person. Keep asking.
"I'm just the driver. Listen, it's no secret to this sport that you build a fast race car and you put a good team and driver within that car and you're going to see success. NASCAR has taken this car and narrowed that down to making it a very, very competitive car. And so it's made the team and the people even more important than they've ever been in the past. But every week we see a car and team that seems to be faster than another one. There is a combination of springs and shocks; whatever effort that they put into it, as long as NASCAR at the end of the day tells me that that car was legal, then that's where I put my trust and faith. Our job, when we get beat, is to figure out what we can do to go faster and be more competitive. Sometimes, just like last week, we were a second or third-place car. Jimmie (Johnson) was by far the best. But had we ever gotten out front, I would have loved to have seen what our car could do in clean air versus his car. When he was in clean air, he was untouchable. But he got back behind other cars and he struggled to get through there just like we did. It's really hard to say. All that tells me is that you've got to be solid in the pits. Even the race that we won this year, at Texas, that's what we did. We were a top five car all day long, maybe even a top three car all day long, and then all of a sudden it comes down to the final pit stop; a couple guys had trouble, we had a solid stop and were out front, and boom, we're gone, and we win the race."
WHAT ABOUT THE SEAMS? DO YOU FEEL THOSE AT ALL? "Oh, the seams today are unreal. I don't know if they've put a different sealer on them or what's going on. But the seams, besides the wind, are playing havoc today. I've really got to make some decisions before we go to qualify as to what I'm going to do about those seams because I have not gotten to the white line in Turn 3 yet, today. I've made like four or five qualifying runs and it's because of the seams. You've either got to go above them, straddle them, or somehow get below them. It's definitely been challenging."
I DON'T KNOW IF YOU'VE EVER TESTED AT TEXAS WORLD SPEEDWAY WHERE IT'S 22 DEGREE BANKING "I did."
THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT RE-DOING CALIFORNIA TO 23 DEGREES, WHICH WOULD BE ESSENTIALLY THE SAME. WHAT IS YOUR THINKING ABOUT THAT? "It's funny you bring that up. We were having some conversations about it. There is nothing wrong with the race track out there. I think this puts it in the best perspective. NFL is a great game and it is the most popular sport in our country. And they cannot make an NFL franchise work in Los Angeles. Why is that? I don't think you can do anything. Maybe make it into a Bristol or something like that, but beyond that, I don't think you're going to do anything that's going to change the interest level. There's just so many options of things to do. I think it's a great track. Is it our most exciting one? Maybe not our most exciting one, but I still think it's a great track, a great facility, and if they're not packing the stands, that's not it. It's something else."
THE FIRST EIGHT YEARS OF JIMMIE JOHNSON'S CAREER ARE COMPARABLE TO YOUR CAREER. DO YOU EVER LOOK AT THAT? "Well, his rookie year was a lot better than mine. But it just shows when you put a talented driver with a great organization like Hendrick and put a strong team together you're going to see great results. I lived through that and currently am living through it and those guys have done a fantastic job and I'm happy for them. Jimmie is a great guy and I've had a lot of fun being a part of seeing it come together. They've definitely worked hard to get to where they are. You want to see somebody who is appreciative and works hard that utilizes the resources and goes out there and capitalizes on it and they have."
-credit: gm racing