JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: "It was a good practice for us. We just worked on our race stuff. I'm just happy to be here at Loudon. It's been a good track for us. We've got some work to do on the 1.5 mile-tracks. We tested at...
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: "It was a good practice for us. We just worked on our race stuff. I'm just happy to be here at Loudon. It's been a good track for us. We've got some work to do on the 1.5 mile-tracks. We tested at Indy this week. And we've got a Michigan test coming up. I'm determined. This team's determined. We'll get that program turned around. With a little bit of luck on some of these other tracks, hopefully we can also get up there in the points."
IS NHIS A PLACE WHERE YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR BAD LUCK? "I've heard that question asked of me for the last eight weeks. There isn't a track where we don't believe we can get it turned. Obviously there are some tracks that we have a better track record at, but that doesn't mean anything. It doesn't matter how good you performed here the last time. It's about what we do now. I'm excited because our short track program - I throw this into a short track than anything else because of how flat the corners are - and that program has been good for us this year."
HAS IT BEEN BACK LUCK OR JUST BAD SET-UPS? "It's been a combination. The weeks that we have run good, I felt like we've run into some bad luck. And then we've had weeks where we've just run badly and either also have bad luck or just ran bad and finished bad. It's just one of those things where you can't really put your finger on it but we know how good our car is and our team is. Robbie (Loomis) and I have talked about this and all of a sudden you start gathering too much information and you have people coming from everywhere trying to help you and it becomes confusing. We've thought long and hard about it. We've talked a lot this week about just really focusing on us and what we've got to do to get the most out of the car and get me comfortable and not allow too much outside information to confuse us."
HOW HARD IS IT TO KEEP YOUR EMOTIONS IN CHECK? "There is no doubt that it gets frustrating. You wonder when it's going to stop and when we're going to get it turned around. But I've been racing for a long time and we've had things happen. If you go back to 2000, we battled our way through some tough times and Robbie was a part of that. That's what gets us through these times. We'll get it turned around. We haven't given up yet. We're not going to give up. Even if we don't make the Chase, our focus is going to be on getting ourselves ready for next year."
HOW DIFFICULT WILL IT BE TO DIG OUT OF THIS HOLE AND MAKE THE CUT FOR THE CHASE? "It's going to be tough. The guys ahead of us all stepped it up when it comes to this point in the season to get into the Chase. We're going to fight and dig as hard as we can to get ourselves out of it and back into that Chase and only time will tell."
HOW MUCH ANGER AND FRUSTRATION HAVE YOU FELT? "I'm pretty level-headed and I stay pretty calm. There haven't been any heated moments that I would call out of the ordinary. At the end of the day you go home and kind of shake your head and can't believe it. But I've always been able to move on to the next one. Robbie had a good point when he talked about just walking into the garage and seeing where your truck is can mess with your mind. In the past, when you're up high in the points but 25th on the speed charts and you're working on race stuff and don't think anything of it. We're fine. But when you've had troubles and you're 25th on the speed charts you think you're done. We're already behind. And so a lot of it is just building that confidence back. It's not going to happen overnight. If you have a weekend like Junior had last week and all of a sudden you're ready to win the championship."
HAVE YOU AND MIKE BLISS SETTLED YOUR DIFFERNCES? "I've been racing with Mike for a long time. I've known Mike since I was 7 years old. We had our instance on the track and if it's not already settled, which I think it is, I've got way too much at stake on the race track to try to get back into the top 10 than to worry about what happened there. It's a non issue."
IS LOUDON A GOOD PLACE TO GET THINGS ROLLING? "Yeah, this is a good track. It's been good to us. We finished second here at this race last year. We weren't the best car. The No.97 was. Our goal is to get ourselves back into Victory Lane."
ARE YOU A CROSS BETWEEN AN ATHLETE, A DARE-DEVIL, AND A ROCK STAR? "I don't know about the rock star part."(A JOURNALIST ANSWERS: HAVE YOU HEARD HIM SING?) Laughter. "I'm the bass player. The athlete part is where you're in the car for 3-4 hours, so I definitely think we're athletes. The rest of that - other than the rock star part - yeah. Dare devil? Yeah, sometimes we are. We're calculated risk-takers."
CAN YOU RUN IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PACK? YOU'RE NOT USED TO THAT "In this day and age, it helps when you're further up front for track position and aero and everything you deal with. But if you're comfortable in the car, it doesn't matter where we're at in the pack. We've shown that in the past. We just haven't had the combination to drive through there and really battle for position."
"What happens is once a car gets uncomfortable, you lose a little bit of that confidence and it starts to trickle down from there. We're working on those tests we've got coming up. We think they'll be good ones and we'll get some good information."
IS THERE A POSSIBILTY THAT THINGS COULD GET WORSE? "It happens like that. When you've got the confidence we've had and we're up in the points, even though we had some races where we struggled, we were still pulling off some top 10's when maybe we shouldn't have been. I think that gave us a little bit of a false sense of security. Plus, those are tracks that we tested at - Las Vegas, California, and Charlotte. You've got to call it like it is. We've had some misfortunes. But should we have been there to begin with? Other than maybe Charlotte, where we were running good but just got out of sequence there."
"Rick Hendrick is classic in over-reacting. At the beginning, when I first started working for him and something would come up, he would just jump all over it and roll everything else to the side and he would be focused on that. And then I would come back to him and say maybe we over-reacted a little bit. This week I was talking to him and telling him that the motors were great and that it was time to over-react on testing (laughs). We're going to put a lot of focus on the Indy test and the Michigan and the Pocono race."
DOES A MULTI-CAR TEAM GIVE OUT TOO MUCH INFORMATION? "The greatest thing about a multi-car team is having all that information at your fingertips. But it's what you do with that information that makes you strong. You utilize it to what works for you. Everybody drives different and everybody likes and feels the car a little bit differently. When we did get behind and I wasn't feeling what I needed to feel. All of a sudden we were just trying to throw too many of those things in the mix."
WHAT DON'T YOU FEEL IN THE CAR THAT'S PREVENTING YOU FROM PERFORMING ON THE TRACK? "A lot of it is the set-ups that we have now to make the aerodynamics work. We're definitely putting more downforce in the cars but to do that, we have to run extremely stiff in the rear of the car and it almost makes the car rigid. So it's very unforgiving. So you go in there and the car feels good and then all of a sudden it just snaps. It's not like it where it used to slowly but surely get away from you. Most of it is being loose. We have not been able to get the car tight enough. It's tires, downforce, set-ups..it's a combination of things."
WHAT IS YOUR SITUATION WITH YOUR CREW CHIEF, ROBBIE LOOMIS? "As long as Robbie wants to be the crew chief, he's going to be the crew chief. He's a great guy. He works so well with this race team. We brought him here for a reason. And at no time have I doubted Robbie. There have been times when I've doubted myself. But I know we've got the right people in place and the right team and the resources we need. It really is disappointing to me that so much pressure is put on the crew chief because they usually are the first to go (laughs). And they usually are the first to blame. But, not within our team. That's not the case. It's usually the media and the fans that focus on that. Trust me, that's not the problem. The problem is not any one person. There won't be any changes there."
DO YOU NEED TO COMPLETELY RE-GROUP? "We certainly haven't been in this position for a long time. It's gotten to the point where we realize that's what we've got to do. It's not what we want to be doing. But that's the position we're in and we've got to get ourselves out of it."
DOES THE IMPOUND RULE HELP OR HURT YOU? "Whether it's an impound week or not doesn't really affect us performance-wise. The thing that we know is that in an impound race, we have to work primarily on the race and make a couple of qualifying runs. That's what we're going to do. That's something that we know we don't have to change. No matter how we qualify, we've still got to be good in the race. I'd rather be good in the race than qualify good."
"We've got a lot of things to be encouraged about. We've got teammates who are running good. We've won four championships and we've got a solid team. It's just about regrouping in my opinion."