JEFF GORDON, DRIVER OF THE NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and discussed his outlook for the weekend, Casey Mears and Hendrick Motorsports parting ways at the end of the season, racing in ...
JEFF GORDON, DRIVER OF THE NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and discussed his outlook for the weekend, Casey Mears and Hendrick Motorsports parting ways at the end of the season, racing in Daytona next week and more.
WHAT'S YOUR OUTLOOK THIS WEEKEND? "We're pretty excited about this weekend. The last two times we were here we were runner up so we want to be one better this time around. New Hampshire has been really good to us over the years. It's great to come out of Sonoma with a good day, with a third-place finish and get us sixth in the points and we just want to try to gain some momentum and I think this is a track that we can do that with."
TALK A LITTLE ABOUT THE RACE YOU HAD LAST YEAR HERE WITH DENNY (HAMLIN) AND HOW CLOSE YOU CAME, NOW THAT THE RACE IS AN EXTRA LAP DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU'LL HAVE THAT EXTRA LAP TO TRY TO CATCH SOMEONE IF YOU'RE IN THE SAME POSITION THIS YEAR? "One more lap would have done it last year definitely. I think that those guys made a great call and track position we've seen over the years has just continued to get more and more important. This is one of those tracks that two tires can really, really pay off for you especially if you get out front in the clean air. We came out of that last pit stop I think we were third or fourth or something like that, had to fight really hard with Martin Truex before we could get to Denny and that fight right there just kind of didn't allow me to get to Denny soon enough and it was just kind of a last-lap bonzai effort and Denny was in his mirror kind of looking to see where I was and it slowed him down a little bit. It was a great battle. We looked at all the strategy from the past and what wins and what doesn't. Steve Letarte does a great job with gathering all that information to try to see if we can make a call like that and win the race for ourselves."
IT WAS ANNOUNCED THIS MORNING THAT CASEY (MEARS) WILL BE LEAVING THE TEAM AFTER THIS YEAR, WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION TO THAT? "Well it's disappointing. Casey is a good friend of mine. He has been for a long time before he came to Hendrick. He is a great race car driver, it's just things haven't clicked over there. I think you go back to last year and I still believe we made all the right calls and decisions and if we had to do it over again I think we'd do the same thing. You can't always make these things come together the way you want them to. They got to happen naturally and on their own and for whatever reason it just hasn't happened. I know it was a very, very difficult decision for Rick (Hendrick) because of the way personally we feel about Casey, but this is a big business and I think Casey understands that, Rick understands that and the decision was made."
THINGS BECAUSE OF THE BAR THAT HE AND JIMMIE JOHNSON HAVE SET. "I do think that coming to Hendrick Motorsports with what Jimmie and I have, the bar that has been raised makes it very difficult for anybody to come in but Junior (Dale Earnhardt, Jr.) has come in and done a great job so it's not impossible. It's hard to get four teams all clicking at the same time, it really is. I've been in it long enough when we had three teams, now with four teams. Sometimes you look at it and you go I don't understand how these guys are doing so well and then other times you look and you go I don't understand why they're not doing well. It's just people and timing and there's a lot of things that factor into what makes it work and what doesn't make it work. Unfortunately you give it time and then decisions have to be made and usually somebody gets that short end of the deal."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE THIS TRACK IS THE PERFECT PLACE FOR YOU TO GET THAT FIRST WIN WITH YOU FINISHING SECOND HERE IN BOTH RACES LAST YEAR AND WITH THE MOMENTUM YOU HAVE? "This is a good track for us. It has been for many, many years. I feel confident we can usually come in here and not be on our A game and have a top-five car. I'm hoping that's the case this weekend. We haven't had a lot of top-five cars this year including last week at Sonoma. (Kevin) Harvick gave us a gift and we'll take it. It was a great fight and we still did get ourselves back up solidly in the top 10 last week after that first run that was pretty dismal and that's all I can ask out of this team is to continue to give that kind of fight. It's been a long time since I've been home. We're testing, we're working as hard as we can and we just hope the results will start to show here pretty soon because we will start running out of time here pretty soon if we're going to be a factor for the championship."
LOOKING AHEAD TO DAYTONA, YOU HAVE A HISTORY OF RUINING COCA-COLA PROMOTIONS AT THAT TRACK WITH THE PEPSI CAR, ARE YOU GOING TO BE IN THE PEPSI CAR? "We're not going to be in a Pepsi car. Unlike Coca-Cola, Pepsi doesn't get in to the types of marketing that they've done in the past. That's why I love them so much. They're a class act with a great product and company. We'll have our day at the Pepsi 500 out in California. But we will with our DuPont Chevrolet and our Pepsi associate sponsorship still try to ruin that day and take Pepsi into Victory Lane."
DO YOU CARRY OVER ALL THE WORK FROM TESTING FOR THE 500 AND THE RACE INTO THE JULY RACE? "Absolutely. That's all we have to go off of is the laps that we had in the race at Daytona which we were very strong. We were handling good and we were fast and then we had our failure and so we're going to make sure we don't have that same problem. I feel confident in that. That's our base set up. We know it's going to be slicker and hot and conditions are going to be different. We'll work off of that once we get there."
WITH 10 RACES LEFT UNTIL THE CHASE HOW MUCH DOES THIS RACE SET THE TONE FOR YOU AND OTHER DRIVERS TO MAKE A RUN IN THE SECOND HALF HERE? "The way I look at this race is this is not the type of race track that we've struggled on this year and I hope we don't struggle this weekend because it would be disappointing. I feel confident that this is a good track for us. I think that this is a track that's important because this is the first race in the Chase. This is not a track that we're thinking and worrying too much about because we need to be better on the 1.5-mile tracks and some of the other tracks that we've gone to this year. I hope that we can put a solid run in here this weekend and make us feel good about if we get in the Chase that we can start the Chase off right like we did last year."
-credit: gm racing