CHEVY NSCS AT KANSAS: Jeff Gordon Press Conference Transcript



American Muscle


October 1, 2010


JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET met with members of the media at Kansas Speedway and discussed team performance, the Chase and other topics.  Full transcript:


WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS BEING 80 POINTS BACK HEADING TO THE THIRD RACE OF THE CHASE?:  “We’re still in it and that’s the thing, we didn’t take ourselves out of it in the first two races.  Didn’t go quite the way we were hoping that they would, but we hope that our strong tracks and performances are coming up.  Still a lot of racing left.”

DOES HOW YOU FINISHED IN THE FIRST TWO RACES CHANGE YOUR STRATEGY?:  “Not so far.  We’re coming here doing everything we can to try to win and get a great finish and qualify well and all those things.  The thing is, you have to keep yourself in it until you get to Talladega or Martinsville or something like that and then just kind of see how those races go.  For us right now, we need some momentum and we need a good finish.  There’s no doubt about that.  We’re doing everything we can to try to get that to happen this weekend.  I feel like our strength this year has been more at the mile-and-a-halves and this has been a good track traditionally for us in the past.  We expect to run good here.  If we don’t, it’s definitely going to be a step in the wrong direction for us.”

DID DOVER BREAK YOUR MOMENTUM AT ALL?:  “A little.  We were probably about a sixth or seventh-place car, but we had a problem on a pit stop.  We finished 11th or something like that.  The 48 (Jimmie Johnson) winning and a lot of the guys in the Chase finishing up front, it wasn’t the performance we were hoping for.  We know that we have to step it up, not fall back.  We fell back to eighth, but we really didn’t lose that many points.”

HOW MUCH DO OTHER DRIVERS IN THE CHASE WATCH THE 48 TEAM?:  “It’s not so much watching what they’re doing, it’s knowing what they’re capable of doing.  You can never count them out, it doesn’t matter what they’re season’s gone like, what the first race of the Chase or even a race like this weekend, they are so capable of coming back and putting wins together that you always have to give them a lot of respect and make sure, all you can do is focus on your own program and your team and get the maximum points and performance out of it.  You can’t control what they’re going to do, but you also know that you really can’t give up a race because those guys are that strong.”

IS IT HARDER TO HAVE THE BULLS EYE OR DO YOU PREFER TO BE UNDER THE RADAR?:  “The thing is that if you’re flying under the radar, there’s a reason.  It’s because you really haven’t performed.  If you’re the bull’s eye, it’s because you’ve been in that position before and you are capable of performing at a high level.  I’d rather be in that position.  I would rather be out front, leading laps, winning races and having everybody gunning for you because you’re still in more control.”

WHAT IS THE ONE THING THIS TEAM NEEDS TO WORK ON IN THE OFF SEASON?:  “Let’s get through the Chase first.  Right now, qualifying.  We have not qualified good like the last 10 or 12 races.  We’re stuck right now on 15th.  We’ve put more effort into it for the Chase and still haven’t seen results so there is something we’re missing there.  That would be one area that I would definitely say because earlier in the year we were qualifying good.  It’s a weird time of year for things because it’s the Chase, you have to step it up and you have to perform and you come to tracks that you come to the second time around and some tracks only the first time and then you start to see your competition in the Chase as to what they’re doing, but you start to see guys outside the Chase – Paul Menard, AJ Allmendinger, Jamie McMurray – these guys that are performing really well and you start to go, ‘Okay, where are we missing it, how are these guys able to find some speed and where do we stack up?’  Those are things that we will look at, even though we’ll focus on trying to win a championship and get the best finish in the Chase, we’re also looking at our competitors that are picking up momentum and seeing what they’re doing and maybe see if there’s something we’re missing that we could focus on in the off-season.”

DO THOSE DRIVERS HAVE LESS PRESSURE AND CAN PERFORM BETTER?:  “Absolutely.  We’ve been in that position before when we didn’t make the Chase, we were able to just go to work in a totally different area, you have nothing to lose, everything to gain and you start trying some really crazy, different things and sometimes you find something.”

DO YOU PAY ATTENTION TO THE DROP IN TV RATINGS FOR THE CHASE AND WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?:  “I have no idea.  I feel like it’s been exciting.  We’ve got an interesting story right now.  There’s the potential of a new champion, you’ve got a four-time champion going for five, the racing has been pretty good and exciting.  I don’t think what we’re doing out there on the race track is an indication of what the ratings are.  We’re not the only sport.  There’s plenty of sports that are battling the same issues, we’re not through it yet, that’s an obvious thing that I see.”

ON GETTING INVOLVED WITH THE ORGANIZATION PROTECTING CHILDREN FROM WHOOPING COUGH:  “It was really making us aware of an issue out there that was really jaw dropping to us on the statistics of children right now being diagnosed with whooping cough and we wanted to do all that we could as parents to protect our children, especially the newborn on the way and so we were thankful that we were made aware of it and we wanted to get the word out to other parents and grandparents and caregivers to make them aware of how you can protect your children through the booster shot.”

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE SUCCESSFUL AT CALIFORNIA?:  “You have to have good power, have to have good balance in the car.  Right now there’s a lot of stuff going around the garage with teams that are trying to run soft in the back versus stiff in the back and at a track like that, you can really experiment with because the straight-aways are so long and it’s a big, fast race track to try to get the spoiler out of the air a little bit.  Just trying to work that balance out.”

IS THERE ONE THING YOU WORK ON WHEN YOU UNLOAD AT CALIFORNIA?:  “We do all that in simulation at the shop and based on what we’ve been running, what we’ve been seeing in the garage area that’s running good and fast, you try it and if it’s not working then you go in a different direction.”

IS THERE ETIQUETTE TO CLEARING THE AIR WITH ANOTHER DRIVER?:  “I guess it depends on what kind of a relationship you have with them and what you’re dealing with.  I think what happens is that both parties recognize that it can be more of a distraction than any kind of help.  Usually you just want to get that cleared out so you can go back and go focus on your job and that there’s nothing holding you back.  Other than that, I don’t think that they clear the air, to be honest with you.  I think that if it weren’t for them thinking that it’s going to hinder their performance in some way by not having things smoothed over then I think they would just continue to go on about their way.”

HAVE YOU EVER HAD SOMEONE NOT WANT TO TALK TO YOU OR NOT TAKE YOUR PHONE CALL?:  “Martin Truex Jr. never called me back.  I’ve still not spoken to Martin.  We rode around driver introductions maybe a year or two ago, I mean a race or two ago.  We didn’t speak about the incident at all.  I didn’t expect anything any different.  I’m not one that goes out of my way to pick up the phone and call other people and I don’t expect people to call me.  To me, I leave it at the race track.  When something like that happens, I might not be happy about it if it happens towards me.  I’ll remember it and I just try to move on, run my races, but keep it in the back of my mind.  I expect that’s probably what most guys do.”

DID YOU THINK RICHARD CHILDRESS HAD ANY CHANCE TO WIN HIS APPEAL?:  “If you look at the stats, it doesn’t seem like they go your way very often.  I think we had one go our way a few years ago.  It can happen.  That’s why you have to fight it and you don’t fight because you think you’re going to win, you fight because of what you believe in and what you feel like your reasoning was for what happened and try to explain your side.  It doesn’t mean that you really think you’re going to win it.  The rules are pretty clear and they usually have a pretty good case as to why they typically don’t get reversed because when you’re talking about measurements and inspection and those type of things, it’s kind of hard to argue the other way.”

HOW MUCH OF A SELLING POINT IS IT TO A SPONSOR THAT YOUR TEAM IS IN THE CHASE?:  “I’m sure we use that, but I think you’re really going beyond that when your trying to sell sponsorship because being in the Chase is not what you’re trying to sell, it’s being a champion, being a team that’s going to run up front, lead laps – it’s all about getting exposure for the sponsors.  There is added exposure to be in the Chase, but I think there’s more added exposure by having one of the top teams out there who’s running up front week in and week out for wins and for the championship.  I think you win five races throughout the year and don’t make the Chase, that’s probably still going to be as much or more exposure, especially if it’s a big race like Daytona or the Brickyard than making the Chase.”

DO YOU GET MORE COMFORT KNOWING YOU CAN WIN AT TALLADEGA?:  “Yes and no.  I think that it’s nice to always have confidence in a place, but our stats have been terrible there recently.  We have not finished well there in quite a while and to me, it’s just too much of a crap shoot for everybody.  You don’t go there expecting anything.  I like racing there, I have fun with it and when everything is going our way, I feel like we have a shot to win there if we survive the big crashes.  But we haven’t been very good at surviving the big crashes lately.  It’s really pure luck in my opinion as to whether you do that, if you do then I feel like our cars, our pit crew and me as a driver, I feel like we can have a great finish there.”

WHAT IS YOUR CONFIDENCE COMING TO KANSAS SPEEDWAY?:  “You have to understand, that was 2001 and a lot has changed since 2001.  I do like this track.  It’s a nice track.  As a driver, what you like is it transitions to straight-aways to corners, grip level and I like all those things about Kansas.  For us, the cars have changed so much over the years and even throughout this year, just setups and things change so it’s about really making sure that you’ve got the best team underneath you that you can possibly have and I feel like right now we have a little work to do.  We come in here with confidence with the team and the race track, but needing to build some confidence when it comes to our performance as a whole.”

WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT CALIFORNIA SPEEDWAY?:  “I’m not a big fan of that race track, but we seem to run pretty good there.  That’s what I like about it.  That always matters more than anything else.”

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