JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: WITH SEVERAL CHALLENGING TRACKS AHEAD, WHAT IS THE MOST TREACHEROUS THING ABOUT MARTINSVILLE? IS IT GETTING ON AND OFF PIT ROAD BECAUSE IT'S SO CRAMPED? "Yeah, every track we go to has areas...
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
WITH SEVERAL CHALLENGING TRACKS AHEAD, WHAT IS THE MOST TREACHEROUS THING ABOUT MARTINSVILLE? IS IT GETTING ON AND OFF PIT ROAD BECAUSE IT'S SO CRAMPED? "Yeah, every track we go to has areas that can get you in trouble. Just being in traffic at some of these race tracks, or restarts when there are lapped cars. All those things can be treacherous. But at Martinsville, it's definitely the narrowest, tightest pit road that we have, it's important to qualify good there to get a good selection. There are really only one or two good selections. You really have to be patient in the pits and be willing to lose some spots if you're going to keep the fenders on the car."
ARE THE BEST ONES THE FRONT PIT BOX AND THE LAST PIT BOX? "Yeah, those are pretty much the two. There is an opening on the front straightaway right before you come around the corner. Other than that, there is no safe place."
WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS DURING THE CHASE? "Our goals are just to really get ourselves back into contention for wins and leading laps and running up front and we haven't been very good on these 1.5-mile tracks. I'm really excited that we're here because this has been a good race track for us. We've been really searching and making a lot of changes and testing things out and we're going in a different direction just trying to learn for next year to get ourselves back in championship form. This is a great track for us to get something going."
IS THE PRESSURE OFF? "Oh yeah. I mean there is pressure just because we want to win. Within ourselves, we want to compete up front and it's frustrating to walk away from a race track when you felt like you never even had a shot at the win. This team has won a lot of races and those expectations come with that -- even though we're not in the Chase. But certainly the pressure is a lot less than those guys who are in the Chase."
WITH YOU AND DALE EARNHARDT JR. NOT IN THE CHASE, DOES THAT HURT THE POPULARITY OF NASCAR? "I hope the sport doesn't just ride on two guys and I certainly don't think that it does. I know the popularity, especially that Junior has, that it certainly can make an impact on the sport. If he was in the Chase, it would maybe bring a little bit more excitement and media coverage to each of these races in the Chase. But there are some guys out there that have a good fan base and still bring a lot of excitement (like) Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, and Mark Martin. There are some guys out there who are still drawing plenty of attention."
WHERE DO YOU THINK THE HALL OF FAME SHOULD BE? "I think that Charlotte makes the most sense as far as where the race teams are located. Fans travel from all over the country to the Charlotte events because they know the race teams are located there and they get to go tour the shops and see a lot more than just a race. Right now the All-Star even is in Charlotte. If it continues to stay there, it would be a great time to do inductions and events for the Hall of Fame. But I think there are several cities that would work."
WOULDN'T THE HALL OF FAME COMPETE WITH THE RACE SHOPS? "We offer that to the fans just as another option. It's not really an income thing or anything like that. It's just that the fans want to visit the shops and when we build the shops, we make it available to them to just try to support our fans. We have Speed Streets and things like that. If the fans are there long enough, they can have the opportunity to go visit everything."