JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET met with media and discussed racing last weekend at Sonoma, the testing policy, aggressive driving, and more. ON THE PEPSI REFRESH PROJECT "We're really thankful to Pepsi and the Refresh project for ...
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET met with media and discussed racing last weekend at Sonoma, the testing policy, aggressive driving, and more.
ON THE PEPSI REFRESH PROJECT "We're really thankful to Pepsi and the Refresh project for the opportunity and the generosity that they've shown to so many. But to give us this opportunity to raise money for physically and sexually abused children; we didn't win the $100,000 but we did get $25,000 and because we believe in the project so much we're going to make up the rest, the $75,000 to make sure that the New Life Program does get built at the Jeff Gordon Children's Hospital. It is amazing, really, this whole competition and the ideas because of how it really got fans and your whole network of friends and people out there that you reach out to to get votes for it and it got pretty intense and heated. While we didn't win, it was still a lot of fun. Because of the awareness of the need there for those youth at the Jeff Gordon Children's Hospital, we're going to make sure it gets funded."
A LOT OF DRIVERS ARE TALKING ABOUT ALL THE PEOPLE YOU EXPECT TO HAVE PAYBACK ISSUES WITH. ARE YOU LIKE THE DELI, WHERE IT'S STEP UP AND TAKE A NUMBER? "I think so. I think you're going to have to get in line. Last week was not one of those days; we left the race track with quite a few guys upset at us for good reason. It was intense racing and some mistakes on my part and hey, when you make those kinds of decisions and those things happen, then you've got to deal with them. It might be this weekend, it might be for the next several weeks, it might be years down the road; who knows? You've just got to go with it and that's what we'll do."
WAS THE SONOMA RACE JUST THAT CRAZY? "Well, I think the double-file restarts have added that, especially on short tracks and road courses, have brought the intensity level up. I think what you see, and we saw this at Martinsville, and we saw it at Infineon, is people in different pit strategies so you've got guys on older tires versus guys on newer tires. And so the guys on older tires don't have the grip, guys on new tires don't have the patience, and so those two mixtures plus the double-file restart really makes it wild. And the later in the race that you get, and you get cautions, the more intense it's going to be. The thing with Martin (Truex Jr.), I don't have any excuses. Yeah, I was racing with Juan Pablo (Montoya) hard, but I just made a mistake there. But the other instances were just really hard racing and just because of that intensity you have to push, push, push and when you push like that and you're three-wide and guys are sliding off the track and pushing you off the track and going three-wide on a road course, a lot is going to happen. There wasn't a corner of my car left that didn't have damage."
JACK ROUSH TALKED ABOUT GETTING VOUCHERS TO TEST. DO YOU THINK THE TESTING POLICY SHOULD CHANGE? "I don't disagree. It could be adjusted some. We're fighting so hard to get Goodyear tire tests now and even when we go do that, you're really working for Goodyear and you're limited to what you can do. But it's still valuable data. I like the opportunity to be able to go to the tracks that we race on and get data; and the old policy of being able to do like five or something and you kind of chose those five (tracks). It wouldn't be a bad idea to open it up to a certain level, but I don't think it should be just wide open. I think NASCAR might be looking into some of those ideas."
HAS NASCAR ASKED THE DRIVERS ABOUT IT? "Yeah, they've asked us and we've given them our opinions on it and it's pretty much in line with what I just said."
ON WILD DRIVING NOT BEING THE WAY TO WIN CHAMPIONSHIPS, YOU SEEMED TO THINK IT WOULD FADE AWAY AND PEOPLE WOULD START THINKING ABOUT THE BIGGER PICTURE. "Yeah, there are several different races going on which I think still makes it very exciting. You've got guys that are trying to win races to get bonus points that are solidly in the Chase. Then you've got the guys that are right there on the edge of whether they're in or out that are battling to be in there. And then you've guys looking on the outside further back, trying to make some magic happen to get themselves in. So there are different reasons for everybody to choose when to be aggressive and when not to be aggressive."
DO YOU GET CAUGHT UP IN ALL THAT? "It happens all the time, I mean all the time. I go through every race in my mind when it's all over and go through every lap and every decision and look at the good ones as well as the bad ones. And I try not to make the same mistakes twice. That's something that I pride myself in and work very hard at. There are some days that they catch up with you and all come down at once and there are other days when you feel like wow, I should have been more aggressive and I didn't make the move in this situation where I should have or I could have bought this guy and I didn't. So you go through all different emotions and feelings about the decisions that you make each and every week.
"So I certainly get caught up in it, yeah. And where you're at from a point standpoint, I'm not into that right now. I'm just going out there trying to get the best finishes that I can and trying to win races. I'm not thinking oh, well, we need to protect right now because we had a couple of bad weeks and now we've got to be consistent. No, it's just right now we're doing everything we can to go win every race. Until we get closer to the Chase, there is nothing for us to do any differently."
ABOUT THE RACING LAST WEEK IN SONOMA, DRIVERS HAVE SAID IT WAS EVERYTHING FROM HARD RACING TO BEING ABSURD AND RIDICULOUS AND IT DOESN'T TAKE TALENT TO JUST RUN OVER PEOPLE AND HAVE NO RESPECT. HOW DO YOU FEEL THE RACING WAS LAST SUNDAY? "Yeah, kind of all of that, you know? I think when you intentionally run into some guy for no reason, then that's one thing. My incident with Martin (Truex Jr.) had nothing to do with Martin. I wasn't even racing Martin, really. I was racing Juan Pablo (Montoya) at the time. And so that's what caused me to make the mistake that got me into Martin, but it still was uncalled for. I saw a lot of stuff going on. Those restarts, they're intense. I know there was one time with Boris Said was up there and he just didn't have the grip, you know? He just wasn't able to get up and get going. And it started stacking everybody up behind him. And when that happened, guys were just shoving people off the track and going in there three-wide and just doing crazy things. To me, I've just come to realize that's Sonoma in the closing laps. Especially now with double-file restarts it just make it even that much more intense. And that's just the acceptance that you have to have now on short tracks and most tracks and these road courses. None of us, as competitors, go into it going boy, yeah, wouldn't it be great to have double-file restarts and three green-white-checkereds at Sonoma. That's for the fans. That's for the excitement. We accept it because we want what's best for the sport. If that's what's going to bring the most excitement in this sport, great. We'll deal with it. But it's not always something that you wish for. But it's just something you have to deal with and accept."
WHEN YOU ORIGINALLY HEARD THAT NASCAR WAS GOING TO THE BRICKYARD WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THAT DECISION? DO YOU STILL GET BUTTERFLIES WHEN YOU'RE DRIVING AROUND INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY? "When I first heard about it, I thought it was too good to be true, that there was no way that it was ever going to happen because that was just like a dream for me. I thought when I chose to go NASCAR racing, or got chosen that there was no way that I was ever going to race at Indy and I kind of hated that that dream that I've had since I was a young kid was going to go away. That was the best news I've ever heard. I certainly was excited about it and never thought we'd go there and win it, and then when we did, I honestly still look back on it and it felt like somebody needed to pinch me, wake me up because it wasn't real."
DENNY HAMLIN SAID THAT WHILE SOME DRIVERS MAY OPT FOR PAYBACK, OTHER DRIVERS MAY CHOOSE TO LOOM IN YOUR MIRRORS FOR MANY RACES. DO YOU THINK THAT'S TRUE AND HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT? "You know, like I said, I'm going to deal with whatever comes my way. When you hit a guy, there are several ways that the whole thing goes down. If a guy hit you first and you hit him back then he should know that he brought that on himself. If you run into a guy for no reason, then you should know that you're going to have to deal with something going forward. Either the guy is going to have a lot of patience and just loom there and make you sweat it out, or he's going to get you back right away. You don't know how they're going to deal with it. You just know that you probably have one coming from them. That's something that I can't control. All I can do is go out there and race the best that I can and try to avoid incidents, try to make life a little easier on them [the team] because they're owed that. At the same time we're out there trying to win races, so we've got to keep doing that as well."
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT GUYS JUST LOOMING BACK THERE AND THE UNPREDICTABILITY ABOUT WHEN PAYBACK WILL COME? IS THAT MENTALLY TOUGH TO DEAL WITH? "I've been dealing with it with (Matt) Kenseth for a long time. Like I said when I get in here, get in line! I've been racing a long time; there are a lot of them out there. I've said this before, I'm not out there to make friends, but I'm also not out there to make enemies. I felt like I've been pretty good about that over the years--at not having any enemies. It's because I race clean; I do. Has intensity gone up for me? Yeah, it has. It's just because that's what the sport demands today. It demands more than that. You can tell back in the day, with Earnhardt, well he did it that way, but I didn't. I didn't. I did it different in those days and it's because you had to be consistent over the full season to win the championship. In the new format with the double-file restarts especially and all, you just have to be more aggressive. When you're more aggressive, people are going to get upset.
MARTIN TRUEX, JR. SAID THAT YOU LEFT HIM A VOICEMAIL EARLIER THIS WEEK--WHAT DID YOU SAY IN THAT MESSAGE? "I owed Martin (Truex, Jr.) that. I owed him at least an apology, a phone call, and then some. So I genuinely felt terrible about what happened. I knew he wasn't going to call me back. I knew that it's going to be a long time, if ever, for him to forget about that. So, I did my part. I felt like I did the right thing, but I didn't expect anything in return."
WHAT DO YOU THINK IS GOING TO HELP DANICA GET ADJUSTED, AND WHAT DOES SHE NEED TO DO TO HAVE A SUCCESSFUL RUN AT NEW HAMPSHIRE? "I think that she's doing the right thing by running the Nationwide Series and getting laps. I'm sure it's a big adjustment from what she's been racing. That's the thing; if eventually she wants to get in the Cup Series, she's got to basically do full-time over here in the Nationwide Series. They're going to the new car soon in the Nationwide Series, which will be a big help to get adapted to the Cup Series because our cars are a lot different than what they're racing out there right now. I don't think she necessarily has to jump right into the Cup Series anytime soon, but I would imagine that if she's dabbling in the Nationwide Series it's because she would ultimately like to get in the Sprint Cup Series."
SO FAR THIS SEASON THERE HAVE BEEN SEVEN DIFFERENT WINNERS IN 16 RACES; TYPICALLY IN THE PAST THERE HAVE BEEN ABOUT 10 DIFFERENT WINNERS. THE DOUBLE-FILE RESTARTS AND GREEN-WHITE-CHECKERED WOULD SEEM TO GIVE MORE PEOPLE THE OPPORTUNITY TO WIN. WHAT'S MAKING THAT HAPPEN? "Yeah, that's a good question. I just think that there are just some dominant performances right now by a few guys. You look at Denny (Hamlin) and Jimmie (Johnson) and those guys have really been strong so far up to this point this season, where they each have like four wins between them, four and five? Yeah. Those two alone are taking up a lot of those wins."
QUESTION INAUDIBLE "It does create a lot of equality but that's where the strong teams rise to the top. The cars are much closer in competition as far as the split between them, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it's going to make multiple winners. I still think that the best teams and drivers are going to win and can still dominate the sport no matter what car is out there on the track."
THIS WEEK IS THE 20-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF DAYS OF THUNDER AND THERE WAS A LINE IN THERE ABOUT NOT BEING WORRIED ABOUT GETTING HURT, BUT BEING WORRIED ABOUT NOT BEING IMPORTANT. AS A DRIVER ARE YOU MORE CONCERNED ABOUT NOT BEING COMPETITIVE, OR NOT BEING RELATIVE? "Well, it's a movie you know? (laughter) It's Hollywood (more laughter). I will say that there is some truth to it. As a race car driver you put the fears of getting hurt behind you. Somebody that doesn't do what we do for a living every weekend thinks oh my gosh, that must be the most frightening thing to get out there and go 200 mph just inches away from on another every weekend. When you do it every weekend, it's further down the list of things that you think about and worry about. So, the fear of getting hurt is definitely not at the forefront. The fear of not being competitive and not winning, which I guess is not being relevant, it's sort of saying the same thing. And that is definitely at the top of my list is going out there week in and week out and being competitive enough to win the race."
-source: gm racing