JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS met with media on starting the Chase this weekend various races in the Chase, NASCARE's drug policy, and more. ON STARTING THE CHASE THIS WEEKEND AT LOUDON: "Well, this is a great track for us. We were ...
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS met with media on starting the Chase this weekend various races in the Chase, NASCARE's drug policy, and more.
ON STARTING THE CHASE THIS WEEKEND AT LOUDON: "Well, this is a great track for us. We were overshadowed last year by Clint Bowyer's win, but we finished second. So it was a great way to start the Chase and we feel like Loudon and Dover are great tracks for us even though we haven't had a spectacular year. We're in the Chase. It's a fresh start and everybody right now believes they can win it. When I look at the first two or three tracks, they are all tracks we can put some great finished together if not some wins."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU ARE SORT OF UNDER THE RADAR, AND ARE YOU HOPING TO HIT GOOD MOMENTUM BY MID-WAY THROUGH THE CHASE? "We've been under the radar all year (laughs). We're certainly not looking at it that way. We're just looking at the tracks that we feel like are good tracks for us, tracks that we ran well at not only last year, but more importantly this year. This was a good track for us. Dover was a good track for us. And then we have a couple of tests coming up at 1.5-mile tracks that will hopefully get us where we need to be for Kansas. Kansas is a good track for us as well, so if we can find a little bit on the 1.5-mile tracks, I think Texas is the only track that I'm majorly concerned about. We were way off there earlier in the year. So if we can find something that helps us at Kansas and then we can get to Texas with a little bit of momentum and some solid finishes, then maybe we can get through that weekend and find something and we can be as much of a threat as anybody. Right now, we've got to make up some of those bonus points. We don't feel like that means we have to go out and lead every lap and win this week, and we'd like to do that, but that can happen over time. It doesn't have to happen all at one race."
GOING INTO THE PLAYOFFS, THE STARS RISE TO THE TOP. DO YOU GO INTO IT WITH THE MATURITY OF KNOWING THAT YOU'VE BEEN THERE BEFORE? "Well, I guess what you're saying is true. But we're not thinking about pressures. We're not thinking about being behind and we haven't had a great year. We're just going to the next ten races to put the best finishes that we can put together. And I think maybe that's because of our experience and that we're not thinking, oh, we've got to worry about this or that. We're just going to the next race and that's either just the way our team works, or past experience of being in the Chase and battling for championships. At times, we've had to fight harder than others and come from behind, and other times we've been leading the pack. So all we know is that we're in it. And if you're in it, you've got a shot at it, no matter what you're season has been like up to this point."
WHEN YOU GO INTO THE CHASE WITH A 70-POINT DEFICIT, CAN YOU SPIN THAT AND SAY THAT'S ONLY 7 POINTS PER RACE AND NOT THAT BIG OF A DEAL; OR IS IT A TRUE HOLE TO DIG OUT OF? "Well, I think if Kyle (Busch) continues on the way he has this year, then it's a deficit that we might not ever be able to overcome (laughs). We know that usually in 10 races, just about everybody runs into a little bit of trouble. So for us, I think that we've got to be realistic in what we're capable of doing. We're capable of putting a string of very consistent races together. We might not be as capable as those guys of going out and dominating the laps led and the wins, certainly not up until this point we haven't (been). But our approach right now, other than maybe looking at Martinsville and Talladega, the first two particularly, are great tracks for us. We can be in the top five. And I think if you're in the top five, you've got a shot at winning. That's the way we're approaching it. Let's get through these first couple races and see how it goes. Let's work on our 1.5-mile program like we have all year long. Let's hope we finally hit on something because obviously we haven't hit on anything yet. And we can also take some information from our teammates of where they have been good and their testing and how that's gone for them, and see if we can't apply that to our set-ups."
DALE JUNIOR SAYS HE'S MORE RELAXED THAN HE'S EVER BEEN. IS THAT BECAUSE OF THE CALIBER OF EQUIPMENT AT HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS? AT HMS, THERE ARE THREE TEAM MEMBERS GOING FOR THE SAME PIECE OF REAL ESTATE, HOW HAS THAT EVOLVED THIS YEAR? "First of all, especially if you've won two championships, the rest is all icing on the cake. So the pressure is off. When you get that first championship, it takes a lot of pressure off. You become a back-to-back multiple champion and now all of a sudden, there is really no pressure. It's now we just go out and get the bonuses. So I think that probably has a lot to do with the comfort level for Jimmie too."
NO, I MEAN FOR JUNIOR: 'Oh, I thought you said Jimmie. Oh. Well, for Junior, no, I think he's got a lot of pressure (laughs). Maybe he's good at handling pressure, and he's calm and they've been consistent this year. I don't know, he and I really haven't talked a whole lot about that. I think that it certainly doesn't hurt being at Hendrick and knowing what our resources are. As far as going up against one another, every weekend I feel like we go through the same scenario. We share information. We talk. The green flag drops and we go and race. We only give and take with one another if it's not for the win. When it's for the win, we don't give and take. That's the bottom line. And so, I don't see how that's going to change going through these next 10 races."
TALK ABOUT RACING TALLADEGA IN THE CHASE. DOES EVERYBODY JUST CROSS THEIR FINGERS AND HOPE FOR THE BEST? "Well, I feel like Talladega is a race we can win. I like going to that race for that reason. But at the same time I'm always looking for the 'big one' just like everybody else, and trying to figure out how I can stay out of it. I've given that up. These days, you just go into it and you think, hey, this is a track we can win at. If it happens, it happens. These days, there is so little that you can do. You're three-wide, stacked up however many rows deep, and you're just getting beat to death down the straightaway by the guy behind you. If you're in the middle, it's just bam, bam, bam, bam, and you're just trying to hold on straight. If you could get inside that car with the other guy, you'd just beat him. But that's not the case. And I've tried talking sense into people along the way and it doesn't do any good, so you just ride it out. You just hope that you're not in it. That's all you can do. I think that a lot of it is in NASCAR's hands to sort of step in when it's getting out of control. But obviously from that tower and the cameras you obviously can't see it, because it's out of control pretty early and pretty often. And you just hold on tight. And if you're in it, you're in it."
DOES JOEY LOGANO REMIND YOU OF YOURSELF WHEN YOU FIRST STARTED RACING IN CUP? Ha, ha, I wish. No, and he's hyped up way more than me and has more talent and experience than me at that age. It's pretty impressive what he's been able to accomplish and do. I think he's great for our sport. It's a little bit soon for him to become a full-time Cup driver. But you've got to look at the situation and there was really no other option for Gibbs and for him. So he'll get a quick start and I think he'll do very well. Just looking at the practice times last week in Richmond, he was impressive right out of the box. These days, you don't have the luxury of testing like you used to. As a rookie, you could go and test a lot of these tracks before you raced at them. And you don't have that anymore. So, it's going to be even tougher on him and I think he'll live up to it. Last week or maybe this week, I said what he is going to do on the race track is going to be the easiest part of it and I think he'll do well with that. It's how he handles everything off the track that's going to be the biggest challenge."
BECAUSE NOBODY HAS TESTED AT KANSAS THIS YEAR WITH THE NEW CAR, COULD IT BECOME AN X-FACTOR RACE IN THE CHASE? "Yes and no. I think Chicago is fairly close to Kansas. We've run some 1.5-miles this year and if I could compare Kentucky to any track that's on our schedule, the closest one is Kansas. The grip level is less, but the banking is probably the closest. So I don't think it's that big of an X-factor."
IS IT POSSIBLE AND ACCEPTABLE FOR THE DRUG POLICY IN THIS SPORT TO ALLOW FOR STEROIDS PERFORMING ENHANCING DRUGS WITH EXCEPTIONS FOR MEDICAL TREATMENTS? "Oh really, you're throwing me into that one, huh? Humm. My opinion on that is that is I've read one article on it and what I saw was illegal drugs, abuse of drugs, and performance-enhancing drugs being the real things and issues that NASCAR wants to prevent from being a part of this spot. We haven't really thought of our sport as being a sport that performance-enhancing drugs can play out, but I think that what you've got to think about is a little bit more of is there something that's going to help you think clearer and better more so than build your muscles up. It's not as physical of a sport as it is a mental sport. So is there a steroid or drug out there that could be prescribed to you to help you with that? If that's the case, that could be considered performance-enhancing. Beyond that, I think this subject needs to be looked at pretty lenient; I don't see where there is any real issue. I think we're going to make way more of this one with (Ron) Hornaday than needs to be. It sounds to me, from what I've heard, that he's got some legitimate reasons. And I don't think they've been helping his performance. So I just think that the drug policy is working in our series, but I think we need to do a little bit more random testing. You can't always just go off of speculation. I think sometimes you need to know for sure."
THE FORMAT FOR THE CHASE HAS CHANGED SEVERAL TIMES. IS THIS THE RIGHT FORMAT NOW, OR WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE SOME OTHER CHANGES. SHOULD GUYS WHO WON A RACE BE IN THE CHASE? "The only thing I'm disappointed in is that we don't eliminate a team and vote them off after the first couple of races (laughter). I'd like to see that. You know, the Chase is built for one reason. That's to keep the excitement and to make it highly competitive and to give more of that playoff role. We have to be very careful with how we change and manipulate that as we go forward. I think it needs to be entertaining for the fans and competitive for the competitors. Right now. I see it to be pretty well put together."
-credit: gm racing