2012 NSCS Aaron’s 499 Pre-Race Q&A with Team Chevy Driver, Jeff GordonPress Release
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET, met with media and discussed his season to-date, how the current point system affords everyone a chance, race conditions and weather conditions for this weekendâs Talladega race, the Kentucky Derby, and more.Â
THIS IS TRULY ONE OF THE FIRST HOT RACES THAT WE HAVE HAD ALL SEASON.Â I KNOW THAT YOU GUYS HAD ENGINE ISSUES AT DAYTONA, WHICH WAS A PART I KNOW, BUT AS FAR AS KEEPING THAT MOTOR COOL ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU ARE PACK RACING?
âIt is at the top of our priority list this weekend, knowing that temperatures in Daytona were much cooler.Â It was a night race.Â We come in here with the same opening in the grill.Â We all know how big of an issue it was to keep the engines cool or the water temp cool there.Â Itâs going to be a major issue here.Â I think that is the first thing that we are going to be working on.Â Really not even pushing, just being in a regular draft.Â Just trying to see in these temperatures how we are going to be able to manage the water and oil temperature.Â Â I think it is going to be a real challenge.Â I wouldnât be surprised if you actually see some concessions before this race starts.â
IS THERE ANYTHING YOU CAN DO?
âThere is nothing we can do other than be in just complete clean air.Â That is the thing, the one positive that I see out of it.Â We should see a lot less pushing.Â Which I think is a good thing for the racing, but at the same time you want to be able to get aggressive enough to where you can get up there to that rear bumper of that car in front of you and not necessarily push them, just pack air there to try to get the momentum to try to make some passes.Â Just do some maneuvering and be able to make a move if you are in the middle of the pack to go to the front.Â That right there is what concerns me. I donât know how much of that we are actually going to be able to do.Â I think there is a fine line between preventing the pushing and not being able to race hard at all.â
IS IT GETTING HARD TO WIN RACES THAN IT WAS SIX, SEVEN, EIGHT YEARS AGO?
âYes and no.Â I feel like this year we have had cars capable of winning races.Â I think the hardest thing is to have fast race cars.Â This year we have been able to really provide some fast race cars. When you provide fast race cars it makes it easier to win.Â Just because you have a fast race car doesnât mean you are going to win.Â I think these days there are just so much more depth in teams across the board than there ever has been.Â Thereâs more competition just because the car itself.Â This car itâs so hard to get an edge on the competition so everybody is very equal.Â There is a lot of great talent behind the wheel, pit crews are training harder than they ever have before, pit strategy, just the engineering of it all.Â I think itâs making it harder to get an edge.Â I donât necessarily think that it is that much harder to win.â
ARE YOU UNLUCKY THIS YEAR? OR IS THERE A BIGGER ISSUE WITH WHERE YOU STAND RIGHT NOW?
âIâm not one that is big to talk about luck.Â I feel like you donât luck yourself into wins.Â You work your way into wins.Â You have fast race cars, you have great pit stops, youâre smart and aggressive when you need to be as a drive, pit strategy all those things play a role.Â We have had a lot of things that have kept us from getting that win this year.Â We have had some engine issues. We had that part break in Daytona.Â I feel like we had a great car there. At California we made a mistake on pit road.
âLast week I feel like I kind of made a mistake. I donât know if we had a winning car last week, but I feel like we had a fifth through 10th-place car when it was all said and done.Â I blame myself.Â I was trying to prevent an accident from happening and by doing that it actually gave somebody the opportunity to take advantage of the situation and wreck me. I donât know what you call that.Â Itâs just things have not been going our way.Â We canât let that get us down.Â We have to put that behind us and go focus on the next one and be very thankful of the Chase format.Â At this point we are not out of it we are still in it because until we donât win any races or until we are not in that top 10 when it comes to Chicago we still have a shot at it.â
YOUR FANS HADNâT HEARD FROM YOU ON TWITTER SAYING THAT YOU MUST HAVE TAKEN SOME TIME OFF.Â THEN YOU TWEETED âHERE WE GO NOT A GOOD WEEKEND AGAINâ. AFTER THE WEEKEND IN RICHMOND WERE YOU EXTREMELY FRUSTRATED OR DID YOU JUST SORT OF TAKE A BREAK?
âI was, but I was actually gone out of town with my family for three days.Â Something we had planned a while back.Â I just was really focused on them.Â It has been frustrating. This is the great thing about Twitter and the down side about Twitter is that with Twitter you are able to express yourself and interact with the fans.Â But, when you have the year that we are having you can only say so much.Â Itâs one of those things where I donât want my team to get down on the way things are going.Â My team guys read that Twitter too.Â I want to stay upbeat and I want to stay positive.Â What happens on Twitter is you make a comment, like a positive comment, and people are like: âThatâs not the Jeff Gordon we know, he would be pissed off about the way you are finishing and the way you are running.â Your fans that are follow you take it the wrong way, but if you do say what you are really feeling, then your team might take it the wrong way.
“When it comes to this situation right now, Iâm dealing directly with the team and we are staying positive and we are going to keep fighting hard.Â I know, Iâm fortunate, I have a very loyal fan base that when we pick things back up they are going to be right there behind us.Â I will give you a perfect example.Â Texas, we qualified 34th.Â A lot of the fans on Twitter were saying âwhatâs going on, itâs just awful, terrible, you guys might as well quitâŚ etc.â Then the next day we finished fourth and the same people were saying âyou guys are the best, nobody is better, that is the Jeff Gordon and the No. 24 team we know.â I try to interact when I can and say something witty when I can and say something positive when I can, but also if there is something not positive I donât mind interacting if itâs something good, but this week it just didnât work out that way.Â Hopefully, we have something more positive to talk about this weekend or something more interesting to talk about.â
ARE YOU AND ALAN (GUSTAFSON) OKAY?
âOh yeah, we are good.Â The only thing with Alan is that he is just as frustrated as I am about the way things have been going.Â It makes it tough each week that happens it makes it harder and harder for you to continue to motivate the people around you.Â That is where he and I have to be rock solid and Iâm glad that we are.â
IN OTHER SPORTS WE ATHLETES ALL OF A SUDDEN COME BACK FROM THE OFF-SEASON AND THEY HAVE JUST LOST IT.Â THEY HAVE NOTHING LEFT.Â CAN THAT HAPPEN IN RACING?
âI donât see it happening overnight.Â I think it happens over time.Â We donât have a very long off-season.Â I donât see it happening over the off-season because there really is no off-season.Â I think that it just really comes down to the team that you have assembled the way the race cars are running.Â At Hendrick I know every year Iâm going to have good race cars.Â Then it comes down to health and motivation.Â When you are running well it motivates you.Â When you are healthy it motivates you.Â I came into this season feeling as good as I ever have.Â We have performed well enough to keep that motivation alive right now.Â If we had also been running terrible this year, I tell you what it would be a real struggle right now.Â Right now I come in here and feel like we can win this race and go to next weekendâs race and I feel like we have a shot at winning that one. The reason is that this team has kept me alive in that sense because of how good our race cars have been this year.â
YOU KNOW BETTER THAN ANYONE WHAT THE EARNHARDT NAME MEANS HERE AT TALLADEGA. CAN YOU DESCRIBE WHAT THAT NAME MEANS HERE AT TALLADEGA AND WHAT YOU THINK IT WILL LOOK LIKE IF DALE JR. DOES PULL OUT THE WIN THIS WEEKEND?
â(Laughs) I think we all know what that would be like.Â This has always been Earnhardt country here in Talladega.Â That was built by Earnhardt Sr. and what he did here.Â He just did amazing things in the race car here that would not only get the fans excited, but would boggle the minds of the competitors. It frustrates you in a lot of ways, because he was doing things you didnât think were capable by just him alone. Yet he was and Junior has been able to carry that on.Â He is a great drafter he has got the support behind him.Â When he does something great here you could be a mile away from here and you know it.â
WHAT ABOUT 2004 AND 2007 WHEN YOU BROKE DEIâS STREAK AND WHEN YOU BROKE DALE SR.âS WIN RECORD HERE AT TALLADEGA WHAT WERE THOSE EXPERIENCES LIKE FOR YOU?
âAnytime someone is dominating whether it is one race track, a string of races, championships you want to be the team that can stop that.Â Dale Earnhardt Sr. and I had some amazing battles over the years.Â He taught me so much about drafting. I took some of those tools that I learned from him and applied them and got our fair share of win on these restrictor plate tracks especially here at Talladega as well.â
YOUâVE FINISHED OUTSIDE THE TOP 10 ONLY ONCE SINCE YOUR ROOKIE YEAR. YOUâRE IN 17THÂ NOW AND ITâS GOING TO BE ONE HECK OF A CLIMB TO GET INTO THE TOP 10. DOES THAT WEIGH ON YOU? DOES THE PERCEPTION OF FINISHING OUTSIDE THE TOP 10 AT YOUR AGE, AND WHAT PEOPLE WILL THINK ABOUT THAT, WEIGH ON YOU?
âThe only thing that weighs on me is I know that weâre better than where we are. I know that we donât belong in the position that weâre in and to me; we have not seen the results of the performance. And thatâs racing. Thatâs just part of it. I mean we have been on an amazing streak of good fortune and doing things right. And this year we canât seem to do anything right. But, itâs a long season. Thereâs a lot to change and still a lot thatâs going to happen. I think weâre very capable of winning races. And weâre certainly not out of it yet. So, to me, being outside the top 10 in points right now means nothing.
âNow, if this was 1998, then that would be a whole different situation. This season would be completely done. And with the new Chase format, the season is never done until you get one or two races within the Chase.âÂ
WHEN YOU HEAR THE TERM âPASS IN THE GRASSâ, WHAT COMES TO MIND?
âOh, obviously the Charlotte All-Star race. It really wasnât a pass. But he kept from getting passed is the way I look at it. Oh, just Earnhardt going through the grass and the fact that he was even able to keep that car going straight, and then go on to win the race was pretty amazing.â
IF SOMEBODY ASKS YOU ABOUT IT, DO YOU CORRECT THEM AND SAY IT REALLY WASNâT A PASS?
âI just did. So yes; I think so (laughs). Yeah, I think the âpass in the grassâ just sounds good, but obviously it wasnât a pass. But it was still an amazing move. And I think only somebody like Earnhardt could pull something like that off.â
IS GOING BACK TO PASS RACING HERE LIKE RIDING A BIKE? OR DOES IT TAKE SOME SORT OF ADJUSTMENT FOR YOU TO GO BACK FROM TANDEM TO PACK RACING?
âOh, I so prefer the pack racing and this type of drafting. The two-car tandem drafting is something youâll never get comfortable with and when you do, thatâs when usually something bad happens. And Iâm not saying itâs gone completely. Iâll be anxious to see guys trying to do it out here, but itâs going to be very risky because youâre going to have to get so far out on the corner or that rear bumper of the car in front of you that you could very easily turn them on the straightaway. And so, thatâs why weâre going to go do some traditional drafting and weâre going to see what the temps are and speeds; and then weâll go from there. But Iâve never been a fan of the tandem drafting. Itâs not fun. Itâs not safe. And Iâm glad the fans donât like it because I donât think anybody in here (garage) really does.â
IS IT LIKE RIDING A BIKE? DOES IT JUST COME BACK TO YOU?
âYeah, itâs easier than riding a bike. Itâs the more natural way of going about racing with the restrictor plates.â
WITH THAT BEING SAID, DO YOU HAVE MORE CONFIDENCE WITH THE RACING BEING MORE IN YOUR HANDS AS OPPOSED TO BEING HOOKED-UP WITH SOMEBODY?
âWhat I found at Daytona was getting back to normal drafting or I guess we could call it the old way of drafting with the pack, I feel like the things that Iâve learned and the things that I have been good at on the restrictor-plate races, the things I learned from Earnhardt years ago, are the tools that you can now use to win the race, which make me more comfortable and make me enjoy this type of racing more; and allows you to create opportunities yourself instead of totally relying on the car that youâre pushing or the car thatâs pushing you. So, yeah; I definitely think this brings things back into our own hands a bit.â
THE KENTUCKY DERBY IS TOMORROW. DO YOU HAVE ANY INTEREST IN THAT SPORT AT ALL?
âOh, yeah; oh I love watching it. I actually had a chance to ride some horses this week with my family, with my daughter (who) was riding a horse, so I jumped on one as well. And itâs amazing the power that those horses have. And that one wasnât a thoroughbred. And I was just amazed about the sleekness of them and the structure, their body structure, and they just look like theyâre built for speed. So, being that up-close, and then having the Kentucky Derby right around the corner, this is something Iâm pretty excited about.
âWhat I love about the Kentucky Derby is that itâs not just a horse that can go out there and just go by everybody and win the race. Itâs watching that jockey control it; and knowing the horse and knowing the track and working its way through traffic, I would call it; and maneuvering through these horses and getting the win. Iâm always amazed at looking at the overhead and how they watch that horse and follow that horse and how it worked its way to the front for the win. And thereâs always a unique and different way to do it every year. And itâs cool to watchâ
DOES IT CORRELATE TO YOUR SPORT AT ALL IN ANY WAY?
âNo, I canât say that it does because rarely are we sitting there with a car that weâre holding back on. Weâre usually getting all that we can out of it at all times. There are times when weâre maybe being a little bit more patient. And so I guess that part correlates but most of the time, youâre wanting to get to the front and stay in the front. Iâm a front-runner (laughs).â
WHERE WERE YOU WHEN YOU RODE THE HORSES?
âI was in Montanaâ.
ON MOTHERâS DAY
âI have a far greater appreciation for all the momâs out there, but especially for mine and for my wife. Sheâs an amazing mom. So yeah, itâs a very special time around our house and with my family and my mom and my dad. We give thanks to them because they sit there and watch us with our kids and laugh at us and say, âYeah, see? You didnât know we went through all this, did you?â And so I appreciate my mom and just try to make it an enjoyable day for her for my wife as well, for all that she does and for all she sacrifices.â
YOUR MOM IS NOT A VERY COMPETITIVE WOMAN, BUT SEEMINGLY AN EASY-GOING PERSON.
âYou donât know my mom very well.â
IS SHE EXTREMELY COMPETITIVE?
âOh, yes; yes she is. You just rarely see her in a competitive environment. But sheâs a lot like me or Iâm a lot like her, where weâre calm and cool and relaxed and donât seem like that person that would just go and do whatever it takes to win. But you put us in that environment, that switch gets flipped pretty easily; and listen, sheâs no different (laughs).â
Founded in 1911 in Detroit, Chevrolet is now one of the world’s largest car brands, doing business in more than 140 countries and selling more than 4 million cars and trucks a year. Chevrolet provides customers with fuel-efficient vehicles that feature spirited performance, expressive design and high quality. More information on Chevrolet models can be found atÂ www.chevrolet.com.
Source: Team Chevy, Press Release
Article Tags: 2012 Aaron's 499, 2012 Aaron's Dream Weekend, 2012 NSCS, Aaron's 499, Chevrolet, Chevrolet Impala SS, Chevy, Chevy Impala SS, Dupont Motorsports, Hendrick Motorsports, Jeff Gordon, NASCAR, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, No. 24 DuPont "20 Years" Chevrolet Impala SS, NSCS, Talladega, Talladega (AL), Talladega Superspeedway, Team Chevy, Team DuPont, TSS