Watkins Glen: Jeff Gordon - GM Top-10 interview

AMD AT THE GLEN - Weekly Top 10 BEHIND THE HAULER CHAT WITH JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT MONTE CARLO SS: Q. YOUR SUCCESS HERE, PRETTY IMPRESSIVE, HOW DO YOU KEEP GOING? JEFF GORDON: Thank you. You know, I love the road courses. This...

AMD AT THE GLEN - Weekly Top 10

BEHIND THE HAULER CHAT WITH JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT MONTE CARLO SS:

Q. YOUR SUCCESS HERE, PRETTY IMPRESSIVE, HOW DO YOU KEEP GOING?

JEFF GORDON: Thank you. You know, I love the road courses. This team has given us, you know, great equipment to come here and perform well, and I feel like it was a goal of ours over the off?season to get better at the road courses. Felt like we had some failures last year and we didn't have the performance we needed, and we really stepped it up. You know, it's nice to be competing, you know, up front more on these tracks now.

Q. HAVE EXPECTATIONS CHANGED EITHER FOR THE GOOD OR FOR THE BAD AFTER FIRST PRACTICE?

JEFF GORDON: This is definitely a different track than Sonoma for sure and it takes a different package. That's what we're doing here right now is figuring out what package is going to be best for us. At one time throughout the practice, I thought we were pole material there towards the end. Some guys knocked out some lap times that were going to be tough for us to match up to. We drew a great number and we will just have it wait and see. I definitely don't want to do what we did in Sonoma which is go off the racetrack and be 11th. We want to be solid in the Top?5 and I think we've got a real shot at that.

Q. DO YOU THINK WE SHOULD ADD A ROAD COURSE TO THE CHASE OR LEAVE IT HOW IT IS RIGHT NOW?

JEFF GORDON: I always felt we should have had one but I'm a little biased towards that. I also think the Chase, you know, it's all about really the best team ask driver, and I think that if you incorporate a road course, it just completes the package. You've got a Super Speedway, you've got intermediates, you've got short tracks. The only thing that's missing out of it is the road course. So obviously I'd be in favor of that.

Q. YOU'VE BEEN USED TO WINNING BACK?TO?BACK ROAD RACES BEFORE, HOW DID IT FEEL THIS WEEKEND?

JEFF GORDON: Well, obviously we've got ?? we're carrying momentum from Sonoma, and this is a great race car. It was obviously fast there. But you know, I feel like Watkins Glen has always been one of those tracks where it's much more competitive among everybody. It's a little bit easier road course to drive. It's faster. You know, it's still challenging, but I feel like Sonoma is much more of a finesse racetrack, and you've got to keep it on the racetrack there and it's not as easy to do as it is to do here. So I think the competition is going to be a will the tougher, and our chances of winning here are still good, but the challenge is going to be even tougher, I believe.

Q. WHAT IS THE MAIN COMPETITION YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT?

JEFF GORDON: We might only have a couple of guys ?? of course, Terry Labonte I think surprised all of us there at Sonoma. Usually it's somebody like Tony or one of the road course specialists, guys that they come in, or a Robby Gordon, something like that. But we saw the Penske cars really step it up there and we see them stepping up here now. So I think you've got Kurt Busch, you've got Boris Said (ph) definitely runs well here as well. The list goes on and on; Jimmie Johnson. There's just a bunch of guys that are going to run well this weekend. You're going to see a much tighter field here than what you saw in Sonoma.

Q. IS THIS AN EASY COURSE?

JEFF GORDON: It's never easy here. Even when we were winning here, we were still being challenged like fellow like Boris or Robby or Tony. This is definitely a racetrack that we run well at, but like I was saying, just there's other guys that run well here, guys that you wouldn't typically think that would run well on road courses, can run well here, because it's so fast. The turns are just a lot more forgiving here than they are anywhere else. We've created a lot of our own situations here the last couple of years from failures and having some problems. I feel like we've really worked hard to make sure things don't happen again. The only way we're going to have a shot at winning is to make sure we're there at the end and hopefully with the car in one piece.

Q. YOU TALKED EARLIER ABOUT YOUR SUCCESS HERE

JEFF GORDON: Road courses are all about being comfortable and being able to fine?tune the car all the way around the racetrack. If you can pick up, you know, a tenth of a second at every corner, then, you know, you're over a second gate. It's one of those things where, at Sonoma, anyway, but here it would be a little bit less than that. It's one of those things the more comfortable you can get, the more you can fine?tune and the more you just continue to gain on it, and there's a lot of guys that come to the road courses and they just aren't comfortable enough to know and really feel that area like they do on an oval. So, I mean, we've ?? I think that's something that's helped me out on the road courses is getting comfortable right away and other guys are starting to get that same thing now as well.

Q. ON THE FIELD BEING TIGHTLY BUNCHED AT THIS POINT IN THE CHASE

JEFF GORDON: Obviously it's working. It's creating a lot of excitement, it's going to be tough. It's a real challenge for everybody trying to make it in that Chase and it's extremely important. I think that, you know, it's a championship within itself, and then once we get past Richmond, then it's going to start all over again and be even more intense. So it's definitely working.

Q. PETTY SAID TODAY, THEY ASKED HIM ABOUT IF ANYBODY COULD BEAT YOU OR TONY STEWART HERE AND HE SAID THE CHEVY, IT'S REALLY HARD TO BEAT THE CHEVY.

JEFF GORDON: Well, I disagree with that personally because I battle with the Dodge out in Sonoma quite a bit, and a Dodge is fastest is practice today. Those Penske Dodges are going to be tough this weekend. You know, I think that when it comes to a road course, I put a lot more of my thoughts as to who the competition is going to be into who the team and the driver is. I don't look at the make. Tony and Gibbs Racing, they put together a great road course package. I think that, you know, the Roush cars do the same thing. And now the Penske cars are doing the same thing, as well.

Q. THIS WEEKEND IS GOING TO BE MAJOR FOR A LOT OF DRIVERS, I MEAN, VERY, VERY IMPORTANT. HAVE YOU PERSONALLY FELT ANY PRESSURE BEING OUTSIDE THE 10 IN TERMS OF WINNING THIS WEEK?

JEFF GORDON: Well, I think every weekend we feel that same pressure, you know, but there's nobody that's very comfortable right now with where they are at if you're, you know, about six through 14th, you're not comfortable. And so, you know, every weekend right now in every position, every point is critical. That's only taking the intensity level up. I don't know, I'm trying to just stay focused on our race and do what we need to do. This is a racetrack that we have the opportunity to come out of here with a good finish, and I want to make sure that we capitalize on that. So we've got to do everything right. We can't have mistakes made. Last week we made a mistake and we made up for it the best we could, but we can't afford to have those types of things happen. Especially places like here and Bristol where we run so well.

Q. HOW EASY TO MAKE THE MISTAKES, THOSE GUYS WHO ARE IN THE BACK THAT DON'T HAVE THE EXPERIENCE THAT YOU DO AT THESE TRACKS OR JUST TRYING TO KEEP IT CLEAN, HOW EASY IS IT TO SLIP UP HERE?

JEFF GORDON: It's very easy, whether you're trying it take it easy or whether you're pushing. Obviously the harder you push at any racetrack, but especially on a road course, the easier it is to make a mistake. You know, I think I that's also what separates fast guys from, you know, the guys that are just out there, you know, in the middle of the pack is that the guys up front are pushing hard, getting the most out of the car and also putting it out there on the edge of making a mistake. That's the one thing that we try to pride ourselves in is coming here and being smooth, not making mistakes, hitting our chips, our breaking points. And staying on the racetrack is half the battle at these road courses.

Q. TONY STEWART AID AT SONOMA HE WOULD LOVE TO RACE FOR A TITLE ON A ROAD COURSE, HOW MUCH WOULD YOU LIKE TO RACE HIM ON THE LAST LAP?

JEFF GORDON: Oh, I'd love to. I think he's a great race car driver and he's really stepped up his road course program. He's a guy that I would love to race, you know, on a road course. I mean, it's fun to race anybody for a win, but somebody like Tony, with his talent level, it's even more fun. Yeah, I hope that's the case but I think there's too many other guys in this garage area that will have a shot as well.

Q. SO MANY THINGS HAVE HAPPENED TO YOU IN THE LAST SIX YEARS, DO YOU PUT THOSE OUT OF YOUR MIND?

JEFF GORDON: No, you learn from them and you try to make sure those things don't happen again. If I made a mistake, then I try to make sure I don't make that same mistake. If the team made a mistake, we try to focus on not letting that happen again. But you always put it behind you and move forward. You have to.

Q. WOULD YOU SUPPORT PUTTING A ROAD RACE COURSE IN THE LAST TEN RACES OF THE SEASON?

JEFF GORDON:  Yeah, somebody else I think already asked that.  But
absolutely.  I'm a big fan of the road courses, so I would love to.

Q. OF COURSE YOU WOULD.

JEFF GORDON: I'd love to see it. (Laughter). But I do think to make the Chase complete, the only thing it is missing right now is a road course. You have a Super Speedway, you've an intermediate, you have a short track, you just don't have a road course. You know, I'd be in favor of it for sure.

Q. I'M FROM MONTREAL ??

JEFF GORDON: And that's where I'd like to have it.

Q. THERE'S A RUMOR THAT JACQUES VILLENUEVE MAY BE JOINING THE CIRCUIT, WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT?

JEFF GORDON: I feel the same way as I do about Juan. It would be great for NASCAR and great for those guys. To have two F?1 drivers switch in the same year, I don't know if we'd know what to do with ourselves. I don't think Bernie won't know what to do with himself, either. I think that it's exciting, but at the same time, it's a huge challenge for those guys. To not grow up racing on ovals and with a rear engine, a high downforce car, it's just a big transition and it just takes time. But if the team owner, and I believe Chip Ganassi is committed to Juan Pablo with his past experience together, that commitment is there to give him the time that it's going to take for him to adjust, and I would imagine over time he will.

Q. HOW WAS YOUR PRACTICE?

JEFF GORDON: We started off really good. When it came time to make a qualifying run, we had one car get in front of us, which was, you know, a little bit of a deal, but we definitely needed to go a little bit different direction. So we were not the fastest but I feel like we've got a shot at the Top 5.

Q. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE BETWEEN INFINEON AND WATKINS GLEN AS A DRIVER?

JEFF GORDON: It really is a big difference. That racetrack, there's a lot more elevation changes, a lot slower corners. You know, it's a lot easier to go off the course in Sonoma. This is a much faster track. There's three really nice braking zones and passing zones I feel like. But see, as challenging as this course is, it's not as challenging as Sonoma is.

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Boris Said , Robby Gordon , Kurt Busch , Jimmie Johnson , Chip Ganassi