Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Monte Carlo SS, met with members of the media at Pocono Raceway and discussed racing at Pocono Raceway; his daughter Ella, teammate Jimmie Johnson, Watkins Glen, season to-date; and the upcoming Chase. ON HOW CAR WAS...
Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Monte Carlo SS, met with members of the media at Pocono Raceway and discussed racing at Pocono Raceway; his daughter Ella, teammate Jimmie Johnson, Watkins Glen, season to-date; and the upcoming Chase.
ON HOW CAR WAS DURING PRACTICE: "I was pretty happy. The rain stalled us out from getting another run in. I don't know how we are going to qualify, but if we are in the top-10, I will be very happy to be there."
ON POCONO SUCCESS: "Last time was pit strategy. (Laughs) There are a lot of different ways to win in this series right now and pit strategy has become an important part of it. You have to have strong cars and a strong team anywhere you go. In the past, we have had that. We weren't good enough to win here by sheer speed the last time that is why we took a risk. We are in the position to do that again except for the fact, I think we have a little bit better race car this time."
ON COMING ON THE ROAD TO GET SLEEP NOW (REFERRING TO NEWBORN BABY DAUGHTER, ELLA): "Yes, definitely, cause it is not happening much at home, that is for sure. I was testing two days this week and came straight here, I am definitely getting more sleep even though I am working harder during the day."
ON HOW YEAR IS GOING SO FAR: "Obviously, it has been a great year with the way things are going on the race track and off the race track. It is just fun to be competitive. My whole career that is what it has been about is being competitive. It doesn't win we have to win every five races, or championships every two or three years, it just means we have to have a chance and a shot at it. Just go out there and lead laps and compete for those wins and championships. That is why I am enjoying this year so much because we have race cars and a team that is capable of doing that week in and week out."
ON HAVING WITHDRAWLS FROM NOT SEEING ELLA BECAUSE HE HAS BEEN ON THE ROAD ALL WEEK: "I am. I can't to get home when I am away from her. I can't wait to get home even though I am not getting sleep; it is worth every second of the time that I am there. I am still enjoying the heck out of it. "
ON IF SHE HAS HIS UPBEAT DISPOSITION AND PERSONALITY: "We are still waiting for her personality to come out. It is still a little too early to tell. I look at her, she is changing constantly, I can't wait to see how her personality starts to really mold itself and see if she is going to take after me, or Ingrid or both of us, or how it is going to work out. That is the greatest thing about becoming a parent is seeing your child evolve in to an adult. Even though I know it is a long process from now, still every couple of weeks, I see a change and it is exciting. " ON IF ELLA HAS ASKED FOR MONEY OR ANYTHING YET: "No, no not yet. (LAUGHS) You know what, the crazy thing is, I don't think you should be allowed a driver's license until you are 18. She shouldn't be dating until she is 30. It is going to be interesting to see what kind of disciplinarian I am, because, from what I hear and what I can see, it is pretty easy already for her to have me wrapped around her finger.
"She was at Indy. Most of that was for Ingrid. Ingrid was at the track and was in the bus on Sunday. They won't be here this weekend but hopefully Watkins Glen. She is still just a little bit too young for us, Ingrid and I, to take her out on pit road to driver intros. As soon as she gets old enough, I can't wait for them to be traveling with me through the whole weekend. I think right now, Ingrid is trying to be considerate of my sleep. She knows how important it is for Sunday. She doesn't want to have the two of them here through the whole weekend yet."
ON WHAT IS DIFFERENCE IN TONY STEWART GOING FROM 18 RACES WITHOUT A WIN WINNING TWO-IN-A-ROW: "Probably none. I think it is just circumstances. He has had some races this year that they have been capable of winning. We had a great battle at Phoenix and he was a dominant car. We just made our car a little bit better there at the end and were able to make a good pass. I don't think he changes his driving style; it is just either they get better as a team or they have fortune go their way to get the wins. The last couple of weeks they have been really strong and the race has been winding down for them to get the win."
ON STEWART'S PASS OF HARVICK AT THE END OF BRICKYARD: "I guess I was a little surprised just because he had a stronger car and it was just a matter of time before he took the lead and won the race anyway. I was a little surprised that he squeezed him the way he did. To take the risk of either making a guy mad and retaliate on you, or damaging to the car, but who knows, like he said, it might have just been a mistake."
ON HOW AWARE YOU ARE ON THE TRACK OF BUDDIES OR TEAMMATES: "I will tell that the buddy system goes right out the window as soon as you make contact. If it seems a little bit more on the deliberate side, then it doesn't matter how good of friends you are, the competitor in you comes out before the friendship does. But, you can laugh about it later, and not let it get to your personally off the race track."
ON THE TUNNEL TURN AT POCONO: " The Tunnel Turn to me is one of the fastest, toughest and most fun turns we have on the circuit. Come to qualify, it is pretty hairy because you have to be committed. You have to carry a lot of speed in there and it is not the most comfortable. These cars just aren't meant to go through a corner like that; at that speed in that kind of turn. It is definitely one of the things that makes this track so unique.
"The Tunnel Turn is everybody's favorite and least favorite. It is just such a fast, scary turn that the car has to be right. You have to hit your lines right and you can get through there good and say "Wow, that was spectacular" and the next time you come through there, you hit the curb and go "OOH, that was close". It is just one of those unique and probably one of the most challenging turns on the circuit that we go to.
"When they helped get the bump out, they repaved over there. I think they did some work to the tunnel or did something over there and repaved and there was a huge bump. They fixed that now and there is new paving over there, so at least it is nice a smooth and got a lot of grip, but you still don't want to touch the curb."
ON ANY CONCERNS ABOUT KEEPING MOMENTUM GOING REST OVER NEXT FEW WEEKS HEADING IN TO THE CHASE: "I think it is important, but I don't think it is crucial. Your whole momentum can shift right at the beginning of the Chase. Heck, Jimmie Johnson started out the Chase last year horrible and still won the championship. I just think to give us the best chance we can, it is important to not feel like we have gotten behind as we go in to the Chase. We have been strong all year long. I was very happy that last week we were strong again because that is a big race, important race and to show strength there, I think that says something about our team especially at this point in the season. We are ready a long ways in to it and to continue to continue on the streak that we are on, bringing good race cars is important. I was very proud of the guys that they are continuing to step up."
ON THIS HAVING POTENTIAL OF BEING BEST YEAR EVER: "Well, we will only know at the end of the season. The only way it can be a better year than other years we have had in the past is we have got to complete it with a championship. We could have all the top-10s in the world, and we don't win the championship it would be a disappointment. It is not going to be what we felt we were capable of. I still think that 10 races you have got to be consistent. I saw something somewhere, I don't think Stewart won a single race in the last 10 races when he won the championship the last time. You don't have to win. We want to win, but you have got to have good finishes and that is what we are doing right now. I am excited about those last 10."
ON HOW STEVE LETARTE (CREW CHIEF) IS HANDLING NOT BEING AT THE TRACK: "He had a big week because we were testing, so he got to come to the race track and that was a big deal for him. He worked me pretty hard because of it. He told me was going to. He is handling it well. I think he is excited about getting back but he has been able to spend some time with his family. I think he has been able to capitalize on not being there. Also, he has been able to work on some things at the shop. One thing about our team that has always been there is we always turn a positive out of a negative. Even though we would rather have him here, he is making the most of it and handling it well."
ON PREPARING FOR WATKINS GLEN: "That is why we tested this week. We tested Road Atlanta for two days. Had fun. It was the fist time I had been there. I really enjoyed running laps there. Hopefully it will help us out for the Glen. That road course is so much different than Sonoma that what you learn at VIR, what you learn at Sonoma doesn't necessarily work for you at Watkins Glen. We have lost a little bit of our advantage at Watkins Glen that we had a few years back. I am hoping that we get that back with this new car, with our test. I feel good, I feel like we are going to be strong. I am looking forward to it."
ON HOW DRIVERS HAVE STRUNG MULTIPLE WINS TOGETHER AT WATKINS GLEN LIKE HE DID: "It is possible some one can do it again. There are certain guys that do very well at the road courses. What happened to us is that we were so good, we were afraid to make changes. If we tried to get better, we might have gone backwards. You struggle with that. We started getting beat a little bit because of that. Some other teams started trying some things to make their cars. We got a little bit behind, this year I feel like we are committed to get back where we were. With this new car, if they don't make many changes to it, once you hit on something, you hope that it will get you back to where you can be strong every time you go there."
ON ANY IMPROVEMENTS HE WOULD LIKE TO MAKE BEFORE THE CHASE: "Absolutely. It is a matter of just continuing to stay on top of it. The competition gets better and you have to get better as well. If you are complacent and think you are good enough and you don't need to try to bring new race cars...This is a fairly new car for us here that we had last week, that I thought was strong and I wanted to bring it here. We have a couple of new cars being built for the end of the season. We are constantly trying to evolve with our setups with the Car of Tomorrow. We just to continue to get better. Obviously we want to keep the contingency that we have had, that is important. You don't want to get outperformed either. I feel like that really the No. 20 and the No. 11 have been beating us on the race track pretty consistently this year though we have been getting the wins. You don't want them to start putting those wins together and gain an advantage. We have been trying all year long to make our stuff bett er to be better than everybody else out there."
ON HOW STRONG COMPETITION CONTINUES TO GET: "Again, I feel like at Darlington, we kind of snuck one out of there. Here we snuck one out. So there is two of our four wins, which could have gone any way. To me it is just to continue to constantly trying to find those things that make our car better and stronger. Bring a faster car to the race track. Even if we were the dominant car, we would be doing that too. I think a lot of people perceived us to just have this thing wrapped up early in the season because we were winning so many races, but we looked at it as, yes we have gotten the victories which is fantastic, we have a strong team, we have been smart, but we have to have the fastest car on the track a little bit more consistently too. "
ON RECENT SET BACKS FOR NO. 48 TEAM AND JIMMIE JOHNSON: "I am not a big believer in bad luck. I believe that preparation and putting yourself in a good position is what is going to contribute to good luck. Unfortunately, the thing at Chicago, I don't know what you would call that or why that tire disintegrated the way it did. I don't think it was anything that Jimmie or that team did wrong. But there was a reason that happened. Last week, they were off just a little bit with their setup at the start of race that got them in to a bad position where some guys were going three wide and he was kind of stuck in the middle. I think that they just have to keep their heads up, keep working hard. They have been very fast. I don't see why there is any reason why they can't get it turned around and be a real solid contender for this champion. I certainly look at them as a major threat for the championship this year even with the issues they have had here recently."
ON CHEVROLET DOMINANCE THIS SEASON: "Chevrolet does amazing things for us, but the way that NASCAR the designed the templates and the rules and everything, it really comes down to the combination of the teams. What engineering we are bringing to it. There is advantage in that body that is on a Chevy versus a Ford or Dodge. They are identical. If there is any advantage, there is maybe a little bit more horsepower, but most of it is engineering. We have a group effort between Chevrolet/GM Racing and Hendrick Motorsports. I feel like pretty consistently we have done a good job with it. In the past, the manufactures, like in '95, when they came out with a new Monte Carlo, we had the dominant car. I mean the car was just superior to everything else out there. That was a true Chevy dominance. These days if one manufacturer is dominating, it is primarily because we found something in the setup; GM has helped us with something in the engineering to help with setup and take adva ntage of the aerodynamics or we have found some horsepower."
ON NASCAR IN MONTREAL: "It is exciting. I have been watching the practice and everything and am looking forward to watching the race this weekend. I am curious to see what kind impact and reception that they get. I think the first year, you find out if there is a real interest up there. Then we see where we take it from there. I know for some of our sponsors, the reason why HMS doesn't have an NBS car up there is had no interest. They said there was no real reason for them to be up there because they didn't have any real customers to benefit from. Obviously, it has to be a win-win for everybody. You have to get the fans attention and see what their interest is and then you have to have companies that have an interest in being in that part of the world. I hope that it works out; I have heard a lot of great things about Montreal. I like the race track. It could be fun. I have been to Canada through DuPont before. I saw a huge reception, but wasn't very far north in to Canada. I think that if we get too far away from the States, we are going to start getting to get people who really don't follow NASCAR that much."
-credit: gm racing