Jeff Gordon, driver of the ...
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Dupont Chevrolet and winner of the Bud Pole for the Advance Auto Parts 500, is the guest of the NASCAR Nextel Cup wake up call. This is Gordon's 47th career pole Bud Pole in 373 NASCAR Nextel Cup races. His most recent pole came at Martinsville on Oct. 17, 2003, 12 races ago.
ON JUDGING MISS USA:
"It was a tough job but somebody has to do it. Every once in a while some cool opportunities come my way. I was honored to be asked to do it. I thought it would be fun and it lived up to those expectations. I've never done anything like that before and I didn't know what to expect. I thought I'd meet some cool people - the judges and some beautiful girls as well. Until you get down to that position with the audience and live television you don't realize how much what the judges are doing affects these girls' lives. They work extremely hard to get to that level and they all want to win. They are all very competitive and very pretty."
ON HOW HE SPENT THE OFF WEEK:
"I'd like somebody to come in here and top my off week. It was pretty spectacular. I started off going to the Bahamas. I took a trip on my boat with friends. You know how much I like to scuba dive. I did a great shark dive. It couldn't have gotten any better after that. Yet we left there and played some black jack, won some money. Then went to the Masters Tournament and had a spectacular time, it's tough to get tickets to that. We were front row, 18th hole and got to see Phil and sink that putt."
ON THE RAINBOW PAINT SCHEME FOR CHARLOTTE:
"We're celebrating our 10th anniversary of winning my first race in Charlotte. We felt like that is something worth celebrating and going back to the rainbow paint scheme is in honor of that. Plus Hendrick Motors is celebrating their 20th anniversary this year. Probably the most important reason is that Dupont is in this to sell paint and make this a new paint line. Everything is retro these days. We're going back a bit in time and hopefully we'll have the same success there in the past with the paint scheme."
ON WHAT RICK HENDRICK HAS DONE FOR MOTORSPORTS:
"It's a long list of things. I talked to Rick last night after I got back to the bus. He was all excited for us because we were on the pole and because this race track here is where it all began winning races. They had Geoff Bodine in a car that was unsponsored. They came up here and won this race. He told me I don't know how we're gonna go about a sponsor and winning this race. He was remembering that. Of course Pop (Papa Joe Hendrick) was in the hospital. That was a big big thing to Pops to get that car up here. They've got a car that's gonna be here to lead the parade lap with Geoff Bodine. It's bringing back a lot of memories. Rick is a quality individual that's very professional and got a business sense to racing. They need to build on that and the quality people and quality equipment. For a long long time he was doing that and they weren't seeing the results they hoped for. Fortunately for me I was able to be the guy that gave him the first championship. Since then Hendrick Motorsports is really been one of the teams to set the mark. I think one of his contributions would be the multi car teams. He always had that philosophy and that concept that it would work and he never lost sight of it."
ON UNDERSTANDING THE FAN PERSPECTIVE:
"I've been to NBA games and NFL games, but this is the first time I've ever been to a PGA event. I kept telling myself I'm going to go and walk around and watch grown men hit little white balls around in the grass and put it in this small hole. The excitement built up but it was a slow process. At that same time people were saying what about the people that watch you guys drive around in circles. You've got a good thought there. I think that golf is one of those things where it lets you really appreciate and understand if you play it yourself. I've never got so excited about watching a scoreboard in my entire life. The most exciting part is hearing a roar far away but there's no screens or TVs to get instant replays. I was saying if I was running show, I would be showing this and doing this (laughs). You've got this gigantic board that looks like it's from the 1940s. That's one of the things about the Masters is that it is built on history and they don't want a lot of technology which I think is really cool. It's definitely a different experience but I think NASCAR fans get a much bigger bang for their buck since they get to see a lot of banging. I prefer to go out and watch cars fly around a race track, burning rubber and loud noises and I think that's a pretty cool experience.
"I am a race fan but I will never understand our fans because I would never have that kind of dedication to it. I look at it from a much different perspective. Sitting in the grandstands and possibility have never driven a car and maybe have never met that person. To be decked out in their gear and sit there on the edge of their seat and pull for you all day long. To take the win or loss you experience and they experience as much you as you are, I don't think I'll ever be able to understand that completely. But I certainly do appreciate it. I sit at home and watch races on TV and I love it. Racing is something that really is in me and will never go away."
ON THE EFFECT OF HOT TEMPERATURES:
"We're gonna try a lot this morning in Happy Hour. I'm more concerned with tires and the higher temperatures and how they react and what are we need to do in our setup. Do we need to save the tires or not? This is not a very demanding race track physically. It's really more mental. There's not a lot of air moving inside the car. It's very important to stay hydrated and get as much fresh air as you possibility can. I know we have systems in place that are very good for that. Most importantly is not being in a lot of traffic and trying to be out front. I think that trying to stay calm and not let your temper flare when something doesn't go right is the most important thing and saving the tires, we need to do that."
ON TAKING OXYGEN:
"Here and Bristol are the two tracks that that happens. I had a problem at Bristol and my eyes are burning and I got some carbon monoxide so I took some oxygen after the race. Before your heart rate goes up the more oxygen you need and the more carbon monoxide you're gonna breathe. This track is flat, it's tight. It's not an easy track to drive but it's not a real physical track like a Bristol."
ON F1 RUMORS:
"I did the test last year with the Williams team. After that test we started talking about going to the Barcelona race. Who better to call to get credentials and hospitality passes than Williams and the BMW team. I've never been asked to do a test. If the opportunity came up to drive the car again I would love to. I haven't been presented that opportunity. I'm too old to go Formula One and start all over again. After driving that car for one day I realized what kind of dedication it would take to start from scratch to learn all new tracks, all new cars, all new people and take my whole life in the U.S. and move to Europe. At one time would I have liked to that, yes. If it was a team like Williams, then yes. But that's not the case today. I'm honored that people rumor me to be able to have the chance to do that."
ON THE RISING COSTS OF NASCAR:
"I definitely think there are ways to slow down the increasing costs. Our travel schedule, the number of races and the testing are some of our biggest costs. One of the biggest costs of our sport is salaries. We got to take the car to every track and map the track and do the rest of the work on the computer, in simulation, maybe a wind tunnel. Goodyear should continue to go to race tracks to test our tires but for cars I don't think we need to do that. Unless there is something big that we can cut, how can we increase the income to the race teams. I think there are ways out there that we are not benefiting from the most - some of the purses at some of the tracks. Maybe it's the percentage that comes to the team. I think the TV money, more needs to come to the team first."
ON MAXXING OUT SPONSORS:
"They're gonna reach a limit. We got into the sport because it was feasible for us to get a lot out of our money. If the costs continue to go up, they may say we can other places to do our marketing or get more for the same amount of money."
ON WHAT SUCCESS COULD HAVE BEEN WITH F1:
"I don't spend nights up thinking about it. I've had phone calls from teams calling me over the years. The real opportunity I had was in '97 to run in the CART series for a year and in the mean time do F1 testing for BAR. That was when I made my decision on what I was gonna do. To me I made the right decision and now it's not an option. After driving the car last year, I felt like the speed was there after the 10 or 12 laps I made that day. If I could get some more time in this car I could really go fast. But that was at one track and I was still several seconds of what pole was."
ON RACING FOR FUN:
"I look forward to stepping away from the hectic schedule, the commitments to the sponsors, the dedication it takes to win races and try to win championships at this level and doing more racing for fun. I would like to do LeMans. I wanna drive some cars that I would get excited about and have fun with. I have fun when I win. I still have fun here. Driving that F1 car last year was about the much fun I'm ever gonna have at a race track. I didn't realize I'm a thrill seeker until a couple of years ago. Then I started thinking about the things I like to do and thought maybe I am. I wouldn't do that since I wouldn't want to injure myself. I could do a lot crazier things because I think about what my team would think and what my sponsors would think. I know there's a lot that goes into making our team and I'm a big part of it."
THOUGHTS ON LESS COMPETITIVE RACES:
"Three races this year have been side by side at the finish line. I think there have been certain parts of the race that have not been that exciting. A track like Texas, you think more about soft walls and how the car can put on a better race. Slowing the cars down through the corner is gonna make that better. NASCAR needs to take some downforce away to slow the cars down. Right now we have as much downforce as we did last year. These teams work extremely hard at finding ways to make more downforce. We are getting to be more like the IRL and Formula One where we are getting enough downforce get even get within five car lengths of the car in front of you let. That's what keeps short tracks on the schedule."