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TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT

MAY 13, 2011

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLETmet with members of the media at Dover International Speedway and discussed on track aggression, NASCAR penalties and other topics.  Full transcript:

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS COMING INTO DOVER THIS WEEKEND?:  “We did the tire test here so we’re really looking forward to coming and seeing what we learned there and what we could bring back and have a great performance here.  Dover has been a great track for us in the past.  Obviously, we’re looking to pick up the performance as well as get some good results going in our favor.  Of course, always enjoy going to Wilmington and visiting with all the folks from DuPont and their employees and customers.  It’s been a big week.”

DO YOU KNOW WHERE THE LINES ARE FOR AGGRESSION OR DOES NASCAR NEED TO OUTLINE IT BETTER?:  “Maybe it’s not written down in any book or on a piece of paper, but I feel pretty confident what the boundaries are.  I think if you walk away from whatever incident it is and you go, ‘Oh boy, maybe I shouldn’t have done that.’  You can be expecting that they’re probably going to react.  It’s pretty clear to me that what happens on the track and even deliberate things that happen on the track don’t seem to affect their decision making.  It’s things that happen on pit road or once you get out of the race car.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE TIRES THAT GOODYEAR HAS THIS WEEKEND?:  “Like I said, I did the tire test here.  We pretty much knew this was the tire that we were going to be bringing here.  This is the same tire we had here in the past.  It’s a good tire.  It lays a lot of rubber down — probably too much.  If there was anything wrong with this tire, it just lays too much rubber down during the race.  There will be some really slick spots where the rubber gets built up, especially on the exit of the corners.  They’ve got a tough job.  We showed up here for the tire test and they had a tire that they wanted to run here or at least try and it didn’t lay enough rubber down and it was wearing fairly aggressively.  We put this tire on and it started laying the rubber down and then we went back to that other tire and that tire was perfect at that point.  They really would have liked to have had that tire here, but somehow you have to get that first layer of rubber laid down on the track and then you can go to a little more aggressive tire and some different compounds and whatever other chemicals they put in there.  I think that this was definitely the safest route and not a bad choice.  We have a lot of history with this tire from racing on it before.”

DO YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF IN CHASE CONTENTION?  WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO THE REST OF THIS SEASON?:  “I think we have a lot of work to do.  I’m not in favor of coming into the Chase because you have one win and I think it’s going to take more than that anyway for whoever those two wild cards are.  You earn your way in — one thing there is about being in the Chase and there’s another thing to actually be a contender in the Chase.  To me, if we get in right now because of one race win, we’re not going to be a contender in the Chase.  We’ve got to step up and I feel like we are.  Last week I felt like we ran much better than what we finished.  That was disappointing.  That’s the kind of year that we’re having so far is that when we have good performances like at Richmond, like at Vegas, we’re just not able to get the finish that we need to be more consistent and to be higher up in the points.  Then when we haven’t run good, we don’t have any issues, we go all the way to the finish and just run bad. I think that we obviously know we have to step up our performance, especially on the mile and a half tracks and the higher speed tracks.  We’re working really, really hard to do that.  By doing so, that is what we hope is that those results will start to show up and maybe even some more wins.  I think at this point, we know we have a lot of work to do to get in the top-10.  For us, I feel like it’s just go to each race, try to make our cars better, try to get those results, try to get race wins and if we continue to have the ups and downs like we’ve been having, hopefully we can get some more wins that will get us into the Chase that way.  I also feel better about us being a contender if we get some more wins.”

WHEN YOU WERE COMING UP IN THE SPORT, WHO CALLED YOU TO TELL YOU IF YOU WERE RACING OVER YOUR HEAD?:  “This whole calling thing, I don’t know who started that, but I didn’t know that existed.  When I was coming up, we didn’t call one another.  We didn’t say anything.  We went to the next race and we either confronted it at the time or confronted it the next week or two weeks later.  The whole calling thing is strange to me.  Because if somebody calls me on Tuesday, let’s say somebody wrecks me and somebody calls me on Tuesday — they’re calling me so I don’t wreck them the next week.  They’re  not calling me because they really believe that we should have a conversation.  I don’t want you to call me.  If I call you, you should be thinking the same thing.  I usually don’t call them either because I prefer to just — one is I prefer them to wonder if I’m ever going to get them back and then at the same time usually I forget about it and move on and we go racing and we don’t worry about it.  I don’t let it linger.  To me, having a conversation on Tuesday or Wednesday of that week doesn’t seem to resolve a whole lot.”

HAVE YOU EVER CALLED ANYONE AFTER A RACE?:  “In recent years I have because somebody started that and thought that was a good idea.  Nobody had my phone number my first five or six years in this sport.  Nobody had my phone number and I didn’t have their phone number so we didn’t call one another.  Nowadays it seems like everybody has their own — of course everybody has Twitter so you can reach out to them on Twitter these days.  All of the sudden, I get in a wreck with somebody and all of the sudden they’re calling me and I don’t know the number and I check my voicemail and it’s somebody that says, ‘Oh, I got your number from such and such through such and such through such and such and wanted to give you a call.’  It’s not a bad idea to reach out to them, but I just am one that I don’t expect, I don’t take the call, I don’t call them back and I don’t do that, I don’t call guys.  I will tell you the only guy that I really reached out to and called was Martin Truex Jr. and that’s because I completely screwed that up.  At Sonoma, I just made a bonehead, bad move watching my mirror because Juan Pablo (Montoya) was making a diving move in on me and I ran over the top of him.  I felt really bad about that. I called him.  But if it’s a racing incident and we’re racing hard or whatever something happens, I don’t call them.”

SHOULD NASCAR FINE DRIVERS FOR HITTING CREW MEMBERS OR DRAGGING THEM DURING A PIT STOP?:  “That’s safety issues so I think absolutely.  There’s got to be a penalty or a reaction to an action.  If something happens, sometimes maybe NASCAR doesn’t penalize you, but if you do something wrong, you usually pay a penalty anyways.  Whether it’s time on the race track.  When there’s a safety issue involved, I feel like there are times when they have to step in.  I don’t know the instances that you’re talking about so it’s hard for me to comment on them. I know we didn’t get any penalties.  I felt bad, I think my guy got a little hurt.  I was proud of him because he didn’t let go.  He was going to get every drop of that gas in the tank and he didn’t let go.  He didn’t let any equipment go out of the box, which is the most impressive part, but he paid a big penalty for that because he was banged up for a couple days.  I don’t know about Paul Menard — did he hit his own pit crew or someone else’s pit crew?  It’s like hitting a tire and knocking it out of the box.  You’re going to get penalized for that.  If you run over a guy, I’ve never heard of a penalty for that unless you maybe ran over another pit crew member in another box.  And they looked at the tape and it was unnecessary then I could see them maybe reacting to something like that.”

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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