JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET met with members of the media at Pocono Raceway and discussed racing at Pocono, teams to beat, baby preparation and other topics. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON RETURNING TO POCONO?: "We're certainly looking ...
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET met with members of the media at Pocono Raceway and discussed racing at Pocono, teams to beat, baby preparation and other topics.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON RETURNING TO POCONO?: "We're certainly looking forward to it. This track is a very challenging race track and always has been. You learn about where you're at aerodynamically, horsepower, setups, driver and all those good things. The car felt fantastic today, I'm excited about our weekend. I feel like this is the best car we've had here at Pocono in a while. That's certainly good news for us. Hopefully we all put on a great race, looking for the weather to hold out for us, but so far, so good."
WHAT TEAMS ARE THE TEAMS TO BEAT?: "That is a good question because you come off of a big race weekend like we just had at the 600 and the All-Star event and the 2 (Kurt Busch) wins both of those races so of course immediately everyone is going to jump on the 2 car bandwagon as the team to beat. I still think that you've got the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) and the 11 (Denny Hamlin)< maybe the 18 (Kyle Busch). Those cars seem to be really good. Because of the parity, it's still too early to tell who really has got it. I think it's an exciting season for NASCAR in the Cup series because I think there are a lot of teams that can win this championship this year. I think as we go each and every year through the Chase and the Sprint Cup championship with the new points system, the momentum of who comes on strong at the right time seems to be so crucial. I guess that's why you can't ever count the 48 out because they just seem to find a way to get it, even if they lose it, they find a way to get it back at the right times. For us, I feel like we need to gain a little bit of momentum because we need to get a win or two. I know as soon as we do, all of the sudden everyone will be on our wagon. The 2 car, I mean, Kurt's a great driver and Penske is a great organization so I wouldn't count them out, but I also wouldn't make them the favorite as of yet."
DO YOU HAVE ANY BABY PLANNING IN PLACE?: "Man, I'm on baby number two, you don't make all those plans. Our first time around we went through it and it was a little bit different for us because Ella was breach for a good portion of the pregnancy and there becomes a certain stage where the doctors kind of tell you, 'I don't think they're going to change.' You start to schedule things based on a C-section so that's what we did. When you do that, they do it early so you pretty much can plan and that's how it worked for us. We had Mark Martin, he was my backup plan for Sonoma and that's all we did was just plan for Sonoma. We didn't really plan for anything else, if it happened any other weekend, Ingrid and myself talked about it and if I got the call, if it was on a Friday or Saturday I would leave, if I'm in the race then I'm going to run the race and miss it. I'm a big believer in what's meant to happen is going to happen so you go with that. Second time around, more than likely we're going to do a C-section again because she had one the first time and the doctor recommends that and we'll plan a little bit, not quite what Jimmie (Johnson) is going through. We're not ready to really talk about who those individuals are on our list and what tracks they are, but as soon as we do know or confirm that, we'll let you know. More than likely it will just be one weekend for us that we'll have somebody on stand-by and again, more than likely it will just be if it happened prior to the race. Early to mid-August."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT WATKINS GLEN TESTING AND GETTING INTO MARCOS AMBROSE'S CAR?: "Nothing gets by you. First on the track, basically what they did to the track was they added these run-off areas where we've always had the gravel pits there and cars get stuck in them. Especially if you're in the inner loop. To me, it was a fantastic move to add that paved run-off there. It's going to save a lot on cautions if somebody gets off there. You're not going to have these long cautions that we've had there in the past and they've put them in several other areas so I think it's fantastic. Plus they've added some new rumble strips up off the corners. Surprisingly you could run on more than I thought you were going to be able to. It adds an interesting aspect to it, but other than that I didn't really see any changes to the track so I'm pretty sure that's what you meant. I learned two things there at the test. One is that when Marcos Ambrose goes really fast through the road courses, it's not his race car. He's just really fast. He got in my car and went really fast. I got in his car and went slow. It was just basically that Marcos is fast and that we've got really good power. That's what I learned. The hoops, we each called our manufacturers to verify that it was okay. In a test situation to gather a little information. Our Chevys haven't been as good as we felt like they needed to be so just gathering information plus I like Marcos. He's a good guy and a heck of a road course racer."
DO YOU EXPECT DIFFERENCES IN RACING AT POCONO WITH THE SPOILER?: "With the spoiler, what I see is that you have a lot more drag down the straight-away here so I'm not seeing the increase in speed. It seems like the car gets to a certain amount of drag and down force and speed in the straight-away and just stalls out. That's pretty much what we saw in the wind tunnel before we put the spoiler on we thought that would be the case. You could have some guys really play around with it for qualifying, running a softer package, which we've seen here even with the wing to try to get the car down as much as you can, out of the air for the long straight-aways and then some are going to do the opposite to try to do what we normally do for a track like Charlotte or other tracks that we go to maximize the down force and the rake in the car. Everybody has a different theory in how they want to do that to their package. My car felt really good, it could get deep in the braking zones. I felt like we made some improvements in our setup from the last time we were here so my car drove really well. The only thing that we found with the spoiler and it showed a little in the wind tunnel as well as on the track is that it doesn't seem to have as much side force as the wing used to have so you have to be careful about getting the back of the car too sideways or too far in yaw because it doesn't seem to catch like the wing did. I think that kind of works in my favor. I like to run the car a little straighter than some guys."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE SERIES OVERALL RIGHT NOW?: "I'm pretty ignorant when it comes to the stock market and whether a stock goes up or down. One of the things I've realized is that you can compare the little bit of what I know about the stock market to NASCAR. I feel like we've got the best package, the best racing with the green-white-checkereds, the double-file restarts, the overall competition being the closest that I've probably ever seen it. We've seen some great racing this year and has that impacted the attendance and the TV ratings? I don't know. Sometimes a company will go and perform just the way they are supposed to and an analyst says, 'You know, this isn't a good stock,' and it goes down. That's where we've been. We've been in the perception of where the sports heading and we're still battling some of that with our fans. I think there's some fantastic things that NASCAR has taken and how they've reached out to the fans. We've lost a little bit of momentum, I'm hoping we can get it back and I've always been a fan of, if you continue to put good racing out there then those highlights are on SportsCenter and Fox News and all the big TV stations and in the papers and everywhere on the internet, that's going to bring that momentum back to us. I still think we're the most fan-friendly sport that exists and I don't think that will ever change. I think in the last couple years, we've become more fan-friendly. I still think we have great marketing to companies, but if their budgets get cut back then they have to look at where they are going to cut back. Right now, it's a pretty good deal in NASCAR because it's hard for the teams to ask for as much money that they used to ask for. That's the toughest part that I see is that costs have not gone down for us. We've been trying really hard to find ways to reduce costs and unfortunately that happens in our staff and our employees. To be competitive, you have to spend the money. We need the sponsorship and when the sponsors are cutting back, that's the biggest challenge I see."
DO YOU LIKE RACING AT NEW HAMPSHIRE?: "I think I won there in 1970, it seems like. At this point in my career, I feel like I haven't won at New Hampshire, based on those statistics. It's kind of like the All-Star race, it's like a 10-year deal where you go into default. I've been good at New Hampshire. It's still one of my favorite tracks. It's a difficult, challenging race track, but we just haven't been able to always put all the pieces in place there. When Joey (Logano) won there, I felt like that was the best shot we've had there in a long time. If we can perform like that again this year, then I feel like we'll get back to our winning ways in New Hampshire."
HOW COULD THE GREEN-WHITE-CHECKERED RULE PLAY A ROLE IN SUNDAY'S RACE AND HOW DO YOU LIKE THE SPOILER?: "I love the spoiler, spoiler is great, I love the way the car drives and I think this is a good thing, it has zero affect on the racing. It doesn't change the racing. I think the racing is good and some places we go to, I think we could work with it. I was at the Goodyear tire test this week and we talked about Charlotte. I'm not sure if it was the surface at Charlotte or the tire, but it just didn't offer up the side-by-side racing we've seen there in the past. It's like the car would either be good on the top or good on the bottom, but it didn't seem like you could move around so I would like to see them go to work a little on the tire there. I don't feel like we have that situation here so spoiler versus wing when it comes to side-by-side racing and the racing overall, I feel like is pretty much a wash. Again, it goes back to that perception, I thought the racing was pretty good before that and I feel like it's been fantastic this year. I think the double-file restarts and the green-white-checkered finishes contribute a lot to those great races. I applaud NASCAR for doing that and I applaud them for listening to fans on the spoiler. Other than the drag, I think they put the down force, balance of the car pretty much where it was so it doesn't really have an effect. That's where I think this race is going to change this time around is because of the green-white-checkereds. When you throw three in at a road course or here at a place like Pocono or Michigan where fuel mileage is so key, it's going to make it very, very tough for these crew chiefs to make that gutsy call and come in early and push the limits because if that caution comes out late here, you're done and you're going to run out of fuel. You have to be a little more conservative at a place like this and it just depends on where you're at in the race. If you're running the top-five then you're less risky and so I do think that the biggest impact, I think the spoiler is going to make fuel mileage not as good just because you're dragging that parachute back there. The green-white-checkereds is the biggest factor that's going to change your fuel mileage and how your crew chief is going to call this race."
-source: gm racing