JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Richmond International Raceway and discussed racing at Richmond, the events in Talladega last week, his health and much more. YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT PREPARATION THIS WEEK AND...
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Richmond International Raceway and discussed racing at Richmond, the events in Talladega last week, his health and much more.
YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT PREPARATION THIS WEEK AND HOW YOU THINK THINGS WILL BE FOR THE NO. 24 TEAM TOMORROW NIGHT. "I mean this has been a good track for us for the last couple of times we've been here. We've made some gains with this car and I just think the kind of year that we're having we're just so much better prepared, more confidence. I think our short-track program is below what we're focused on improving. We've been decent but don't feel like we've been as strong as we have been on the 1.5-mile tracks this year. I'm anxious to get out there and get some laps and try some things the team has prepared for what they feel like is going to be good based on our notes from the past couple of races here as well as this year and the racing that we've been doing and our simulation and all the stuff that we work on. A couple of weeks for us since the win in Texas so we don't want that momentum to get away from us from that big win and it hasn't yet. Certainly a nice run is important for us."
HOW DO YOU FEEL? "I feel fine. This week has been allergies. Sunday at Talladega it hit me. I sound terrible and congested but I feel fine. It was just my allergies messing with me. I'm pretty bad with pollen and all that stuff so getting in the air it messes with me pretty good but it doesn't seem to affect me in the car.
HOW ABOUT YOUR BACK? "This will be a tough weekend because of the g-forces and the braking that you use here and the long runs that you have here. It will be tough on my back. We'll just have to fight through it."
WHAT IS THE APPROACH COMING OFF A COUPLE OF TOUGH WEEKENDS? "I think when you come off a win you're thinking about going to the next race and winning. When you come off a couple of bad points days then you're like okay let's not get ourselves in danger of losing too many more points, let's go out there and put a solid effort together and make sure we bring the car home in one piece. Try not to make any mistakes. At Phoenix we really had a top-10 car but we made some mistakes that ended up really hurting us. Last week was just Talladega and you can't always avoid that. We didn't put too much into Talladega we put a lot more into what happened at Phoenix. We'll just come in here and get out there and practice to see what kind of race car we have and try to qualify the best we can and go from there.
THE DAY AFTER TALLADEGA A NASCAR OFFICIAL ALLUDED TO THE POSSIBILITY OF BEING MORE ASSERTIVE IN PENALIZING DRIVERS IN RACES FOR BUMP DRAFTING, DO YOU FEEL THERE'S A NEED FOR THAT? "I'm curious to see that approach. You've got to look at it as really primarily a Talladega issue. Daytona we see a little bit of bump drafting but handling was such an issue at Daytona you really can't do the same things. You don't get the runs, you don't get the side-by-side racing as much in Daytona as you do in Talladega.
"It's really an isolated situation. They did such an amazing job paving that race track, it's so smooth and it has so much grip that you literally can put your car all the way around the race track. We saw it at the end and it was in the closing laps. My question is that we go to the drivers meeting and they show us the zones that we're not supposed to be bump drafting and on lap one we were doing it already. I did it for six laps. The thing is that I felt like they had the opportunity on Saturday during the Nationwide race, there were some guys that caused wrecks that were bump-drafting on the exit of the corners and caused an incidents and I think they could have set the precedent on Saturday and say we're making a stand for this kind of stuff. That might have been something that would have opened our eyes up a little bit more, hey they're not joking. But when nobody really gets penalized for it you push the limits further and further and further. They say that and saw what happened in the closing laps of that race, honestly I'd like to get them to clarify it because Brad Keselowski to me that crash was not caused by Brad. He did exactly what he should have done. The yellow line was probably what caused that. He had a run underneath him and are we saying okay it's the blocking of Carl (Edwards) and he got penalized or talking about the bump drafting that caused them to get into that situation where two cars get together and end up pushing one another around and break away from the field. Are you going to say that car is penalized, I'm not really sure. But with the wicker and then the restrictor plate and the aerodynamics on that car you're only going to see more and more of that now that we've seen how it can be done and that's going to cause issues in the future. So they're going to have to address it someway and somehow and we'll just have to get some clarification and when we get to that point in the season we'll see what happens."
JIMMIE SAID EARLIER IN THE WEEK THAT KYLE (BUSCH) KIND OF DRIVES WITH A CHIP ON HIS SOLDIER AGAINST EVERYONE AND REALLY DOESN'T FEEL LIKE HE NEEDS FRIENDS ON THE TRACK, DO YOU AGREE WITH THAT? WITH LAST YEAR'S INCIDENT WITH DALE (EARNHARDT) JUNIOR HOW DO YOU THINK THAT IMPACTED THE WAY PEOPLE PERCEIVE HIM? "I've sensed that from time to time with Kyle. A lot of times you just think that he's an aggressive driver and sometimes he gets over aggressive and makes mistakes. But you know he's does some extraordinary things out there on the race track that sometimes you go why would you do that and other times you go wow look at that and you've got to give him credit for the talent that he has. I've mentioned it before I already see a maturity level that's growing, as that grows that means he gets more patience to know how to hone in those talents and skills that he has.
"Perception from this race last year I think it was a tight battle with the most popular guy out there. At that time it was a young guy winning a lot of races without a lot of popularity and all he did was make himself less popular with the Junior fans and more popular with the non-Junior fans. I thought it was in some ways that kind of excitement was good for the sport. I'm a competitor so I put myself in both of those shoes. One side it worked out good for him the other side it didn't."
YOU RARELY SEE GUYS LIKE BRAD (KESELOWSKI) AND GUYS THAT RUN BACK IN THE PACK A LITTLE BIT BREAK THROUGH AT RICHMOND, WHY IS IT TOUGH FOR SOMEBODY TO BREAK THROUGH AT THIS TRACK AND WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE GOOD HERE? "This is not only a tough track you got to give a lot of credit to the teams that are working together with their driver for many years or the beginning of this season. A guy like Brad he's a tremendous deal of talent as well, but he's not driving the No. 24, he's not driving the No. 48 or the No. 5,he's driving a (James) Finch car that gets information from Hendrick (Motorsports) or engines from Hendrick or he's driving a fifth Hendrick car. That kind of situation whether it's with Roush or Yates or Childress or us, that's not really putting them in the absolute best equipment with the best pit crew, the best crew chief they're just kind of lended going into it. If you're talking about a guy like that and he's with a top team say like a Joey Logano, it's just that this is the Cup Series that takes experience as well as talent and sometimes it takes a little longer others for things to all come together."
ALSO RICHMOND ITSELF, WHY IS IT SO TOUGH HERE? "Experience you know. This is a track that you've gotta have a lot of short-track experience in general coming in here from other series as well as understanding this race track. There's a lot of different things about this race track that sometimes guys learn it quick and sometimes guys don't. I feel like this is a track that I'm always running at continually all the way up to the day of my last race here I'll probably learn something new about this race track. Plus conditions change so you've got to be able to adapt your style, your set-up. It's a tough place like I mentioned earlier you're going to be pushing hard in the corners, in the braking zones, track position is important. There's so many factors that play into winning this race and that's why it offers such great racing because there's so many things that can play out here. Multiple grooves, track position and those different things and a fast race car always helps."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE SECRETS OR THE KEYS TO QUALIFYING HERE? "You know you practice during the day and then the sun starts to set so you've got to be a little bit prepared for the change in conditions. You go off of past history. We take notes from every other qualifying run that we've had here in the past and we look at certain trends. Tires change so sometimes you can't always use those notes that you have. We know that the pace is definitely going to pick up and you're going to charge the corner harder and it's probably going to tighten the race car so we usually fill it up. In the past here I've never been one to lay down a fast first lap I always do on the second lap but that didn't work in Phoenix and this is I think a similar tire if not the same one so we might have to look at possibly doing it on the first lap instead of the second lap today."
DO YOU PUT A LITTLE EXTRA EFFORT IN BECAUSE IT'S RICHMOND? "I approach every weekend, I go out there and I push as hard as I can in practice to lay down a good lap and always leave a little bit more out there on the table and the team making adjustments to make the car better. I go into the first corner as hard as I possibly can and if it sticks I see what the rest of the lap has to hold. If it doesn't stick, I make the best of it. That's what I do every weekend and it's no different here."
ON IF CHANGES SHOULD BE MADE AT TALLADEGA. "It depends on the way you're looking at it. Here's the thing I think for the sport as a whole we think of Talladega as one of the most exciting race tracks with three-wide finishes and ten cars going for the win on the final lap then I think in that sense it's not good. This thing has been building for four to five races if not longer. It's just that we've been doing it in practice for the last couple of years, it's just that nobody has ever been to materialize it into the final laps of the race and make it work. Everybody is starting to understand how to do it a little more. It's more about the guy leading than it is the guy behind. The guy leading actually rides the brakes slightly and it locks that car in behind him. As long as he just keeps tapping the brakes and keeps that guy on his bumper then they stay together until the guys blows his engine or pulls out to pass coming to the start-finish line. So I think the negative thing I see it's going to be the same scenario every single time two cars whoever they are get to the tri-oval. One guy is going to pull out to pass and the lead car is going to decide how much to block. When you see the checkered flag and you're leading on the tri-oval pretty much natural instincts take over and you're going to block all the way until your car is spinning and that's exactly what Carl (Edwards) did. That's a scenario that could happen quite often. I'm not thinking that's a good thing. I don't think that's the way we want to see races finish at Talladega with a car flying through the air and going into the fence. I think that's the potential of what can continue to happen.
"I felt like when we were finalizing this car at Talladega at the last test we went to several years ago, I always felt like the wicker was a little bit too big for the size of the restrictor plate. I'd like to see them consider not just restrictor plates but possibly something with that wicker too. Not push so much air over the tops of these cars. Basically that wicker is deflecting so much air that it's put us into that pocket. It's just kind of gotten out of hand so I think there's some things that they can do to slow down that rate. The cars they're easy to pass so you could probably take a little bit out and still put on a heck of a race. Once we learn something it seems like we never take it away. We might not ever be able to stop this. NASCAR might not be able to stop what we're seeing. Once the drivers learn something they usually get better at it. It's just like going up the middle three-wide, who would have thought ten years ago that the middle lane was actually the best lane to get to the front. But now when that green flag drops I go straight to the middle. I don't want to be on the outside or the inside I want to be in the middle."
YOU MENTIONED YOUR BACK EARLIER, IS THIS JUST A WEAR AND TEAR THING OR DID YOU HURT IT AT SOME POINT? "I had another MRI, one that was more detailed this week and I've got some information that I'm just not ready to release yet or admit to yeah we found some things and have a better diagnosis of it. When I know how I'm going to treat it I'll let you guys know. I don't believe it's anything serious. It's just something that's causing the pain. There's a little bit of arthritis which is not totally unnatural but there's also some other things that
come from what they can understand from trauma or a crash or maybe just years of beating it up. Heck I don't know I might have picked up my luggage or something and then tore something up in there. So I don't know, but we have a better diagnosis of it and I've got some experts that are giving me all the best scenarios and when I know more I'll let you guys know."
-credit: gm racing