JEFF GORDON, NO. 14 DUPONT CHEVROLET met with media and discussed how the sun affects qualifying at PIR, Denny Hamlin and racing in pain, the new spoiler, and more. HOW HAS THE DAY BEEN FOR YOU SO FAR? "It's gone pretty good for us. We're...
JEFF GORDON, NO. 14 DUPONT CHEVROLET met with media and discussed how the sun affects qualifying at PIR, Denny Hamlin and racing in pain, the new spoiler, and more.
HOW HAS THE DAY BEEN FOR YOU SO FAR?
"It's gone pretty good for us. We're trying some different things here so we had a pretty exciting first practice trying to work through some unknowns with some of the changes that we've made coming in here. I didn't think that we' were going to end up making it work, but by the end of the first practice we started gaining some speed. They were all race runs. And then when we put it into qualifying trim it was actually really fast. So I think we've got a great shot even though we drew an early number for qualifying. I think we've got good shot at a good lap there and we have a little bit of work to do for tomorrow evening's race, but for the most part it's been a pretty good day. It's pretty hot and slick, so it's also hard to put too much into practice here."
WHAT ARE THE TRACK CONDITIONS LIKE TODAY?
"They're just really hot; really slick. Just slipping and sliding around trying to find grip, which it tough to do. It's always challenging with these two-day schedules to find the track time that's really optimal for us to get prepared for the race tomorrow. We kind of recognize that going in. And so you're practicing in the heat of the day. Even though this race is starting at 4:00 pm, the track temp definitely comes down quite a bit at that time of day. So the track conditions will be different when we race versus what we were practicing in today."
DENNY HAMLIN WHAT JUST IN THE MEDIA CENTER AND SAID HE DIDN'T KNOW HOW LONG HE'D GO TOMORROW. WILL HAVE ANY CONCERN RACING CLOSE TOP HIM UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES?
"No. I don't think there's a safety issue other than for himself. He's been through enough with his knee and doesn't want to cause any extra damage so he had the surgery to fix that and if it's going to cause any further damage or prevent him from recovering in the time that he needs to, I'm sure they'll make the right call. But I certainly don't have any issues. He looked up to speed and everything looked good to me today. My only concern is whether we could beat him or not when he is out there."
ON ISSUES WITH THE SUN DURING QUALIFYING
"It just really depends on when you go. The one advantage of going earlier when we'll be going, is the angle of the sun is not down quite as far and so you can pick up those spots a little bit easier. There are two ways to go about it. Every time I come here to Phoenix, I always want to talk to them about some kind of brake markers going into Turn 1 but I always forget about it. But going into (Turn) 1 here, when that sun does set for those guys that go later, one is you go into the shade so that the difference when the sun is right in your eyes and then you going into that shade it's just that your eyes take a second to adjust. There is really no real answer for it. You could put a dark shield, but then you're still going to have the sun in your eyes and a little bit of change from when you go into that shaded part. I have not found the perfect fix.
"But finding your marks on the track is probably the most important thing. But as that sun sets, those marks change. You can't pick up the marks on the track so you've got to go off the wall. And there's not really any good markers along the wall, plus you don't want to be looking at the wall, you want to be looking at the apex. So I think if they could paint some stripes or have a three-two-one or have a little bit better brake markers going in there, it would certainly be helpful for that sun setting. It's really only an issue for qualifying because you're just having to drive so deep into that corner; you haven't seen the track for a couple hours since practice. And it's just crucial moments. In the race it's not as big of a deal to me because you're running it lap after lap after lap so you can get into your rhythm and find your marks so it's not so bad.
"My car was fantastic. We made two runs and that last one was a really good one and we know the tracks is going to pick up so we just hope that we made good adjustments. The first lap seemed to be pretty good in practice versus the second one. In qualifying here in the past, for me, it's been the second lap, so I'm curious to see which one pays off for us."
DENNY HAMLIN WAS CLEARLY IN PAIN. SHOULD HE BE IN A RACE CAR? SHOULD WE HAVE A RULE THAT A DRIVER HAS TO START THE CAR TO GET THE POINTS? IF HE'S IN PAIN AND HAS AN ACCIDENT AND HE CAN'T GET OUT FAST ENOUGH, IS THERE A SAFETY ISSUE THAT NASCAR NEEDS TO ADDRESS?
"If you don't start the car, I don't think you should get points. The car still gets points. I don't think the driver should get points. But the only safety issue that I really see is his own; like causing further damage to his knee. This is a hard-braking track. I would say that here and Martinsville are probably, and maybe the road courses, are two of the toughest places. So I don't know if he's going to have a choice. I don't know a whole lot about the surgery and all that, but I take confidence in the drivers and the doctors and their management in their team to make the right decisions. I don't think it's a safety issue for the competitors out there. I think the only one they have to consider is the one for themselves. I think the liaisons for the medical group here and at all the tracks should definitely be monitoring to see where he's at and I'm sure that they are. I think that's as far as they need to get involved."
WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THAT THE TRACKS ARE DIFFERENT AND THE CIRCUMSTANCES COULD BE DIFFERENT, COMING OUT OF MARTINSVILLE IF THE SITUATION WERE ANYWHERE NEAR COMPARABLE AT THE END OF THIS RACE, IS THERE ANY REASON FOR FANS TO EXPECT THAT YOU WOULD DO ANYTHING DIFFERENT OR YOU WOULD THINK MATT KENSETH WOULD DO ANYTHING DIFFERENT?
"When it's a shootout like that in the closing laps, especially on a short track, and you're kind of in between short tracks here, if there is contact you can expect there to be more contact in that situation. And I try to look at every situation separately. I don't try to go back and rehash old past history. I just know that they dropped the green, I went through the gears, I went into Turn 1 and I got hit. And I was upset about it. I had an opportunity to get back to him and I did.
"I think it stinks for Matt because he finished pretty far back but I feel like at the moment it stuck for me too because it took our chance of winning that race away. What goes on further than that, I have no idea. I like Matt a lot. I love racing with him. I talked to him Sunday night after the race and I think those conversations really do much good but I was glad that we talked about it anyway. I definitely want him to know that I don't have anything against him, and I don't. It was pretty plain and simple. If you hit me, I'm going to hit you back. That's where I leave it. I'm certainly not thinking anything about it. But if he chooses to do something, that's up to him. That's just part of racing."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON GOING TO TEXAS NEXT WEEK AND WILL THE SPOILER CHANGE ANYTHING?
"Martinsville was kind of just the hey, you know, we can put pretty much anything on here at Martinsville and go out there and have a similar race. And we did; we had a great race. Here aerodynamics play bigger roles so we're going to see more of how this race plays out with the spoiler. I'm not seeing anything major with how the car drives. I think it's how the car drives around other cars is what we're really going to see. I did a little bit today and it's hard to say if that was aero from the car in front of me or if it was just the way our car was balanced out. But we got pretty tight. The real true test is going to be at these 1.5-mile tracks; Texas being the first one. Again, I don't think it's going to change who's going to be fast and who's going to run good and how you're day is going to go. I think if we're well-prepared and we've got the car dialed in then it'll be a typical challenging Texas for us that hopefully we can pull off a win at. I feel as confident about it whether we have the spoiler or the wing."
-source: gm racing