New Hampshire: Press Conference Transcript
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and discussed the Chase, racing at New Hampshire and other topics. Full Transcript:
HOW HAS YOUR MINDSET CHANGED?: "It hasn't changed. Obviously, had things gone well at Chicago we would have come here a little more excited and hopeful on being a real contender for the Chase. Now, we know that it's just all or nothing. Coming into that race, I don't think we've done anything different. We haven't approached it any different than we would have, but we're probably just not as excited about the start of the Chase as we were beginning last week. Hey, we come out of here with a win then that will all change. Just like it changed from one week to the next, it could change again."
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO SHAVE?: "I did the mustache because somebody said, 'Hey, bring back the mustache.' I said, 'Well, if we make the Chase then I'll bring it back.' So I brought it back and then with the way that it went last week I was like, 'Okay, I'm done with the mustache.' I just changed my mind. It's not that we're out of it by any means, we know we have a lot of work to do, but we can certainly win this thing. I guess the other thing was that I went in the other weekend saying, 'Okay, the only way I'm not going to look ridiculous is if we're out there winning.' Obviously, we didn't do that at Chicago. It wasn't hard to take it off, I can promise you that."
HOW HAS PRACTICE BEEN?: "We struggled a little bit in race trim. Still really battling with this tire. We went into qualifying trim and got a really good lap. Pretty optimistic about qualifying, but we've got all day to work on it tomorrow for the race."
DO YOU THINK YOU CAN RALLY IN THE CHASE AFTER THE WAY YOUR TEAM RALLIED TO GET IN THE CHASE?: "Oh yeah, we're still riding that wave from Richmond. That was an amazing performance for us, a much needed performance and only proof that you never give up. You never stop working hard to get a victory or to get the maximum amount of points that you can get week in and week out. We've overcome a lot this year. With all we've been through, last week was a bump in the road, but it's not putting us in that mind frame where we're just completely devastated and feel like we're out of it."
WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO DO TO BE BACK IN THE CHASE HUNT?: "We have to score a lot more points than the other guys. How do you know what that is? The problem is that you have 11 guys that you have to do that with. We've got a pretty good chunk just to get back to 11th. It's going to have to be pretty extraordinary. Right next to miraculous. Miraculous things have happened so that's what keeps us motivated and keeps us going forward is that anything can happen and crazier things have happened before."
DO YOU THINK AJ ALLMENDINGER'S QUICK REINSTATEMENT WILL HELP HIM GET BACK INTO A RIDE AND BE MORE ACCEPTED IN THE GARAGE?: "Yes. I think that a quick reinstatement like that speaks volumes of what his commitment is. I think that NASCAR wouldn't do that unless they saw a lot out of AJ (Allmendinger) and what his intentions and commitment are moving forward. I would think that would build confidence in the garage area as well."
DO YOU THINK AJ ALLMENDINGER IS BREATHING A SIGH OF RELIEF AND READY TO MOVE FORWARD?: "I think so. I haven't spoke to him, but I would sure think so."
HOW WOULD YOU GAUGE HOW FAR BRAD KESELOWSKI HAS COME OVER THE LAST COUPLE YEARS?: "He's come a long way, he's come a long way. I'm proud of him. We have had that relationship with him, working with Hendrick and I mean, I always knew he was talented, but I think he's done a lot more with his talent than I ever thought he could. He's gained confidence in what he's doing, he's brought that over to Penske. I think Penske needed somebody that could lead that group to that next level and who would have thought that would be Brad Keselowski. You have to be impressed with what he's done. I was certainly impressed with what he did last week, that's for sure. I think they showed signs of that last year and now they're carrying that through and starting it off right. It's impressive."
ARE THERE MIRACLES THAT YOU REFERENCE IN MEETINGS WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT GETTING THE CHAMPIONSHIP THIS YEAR?: "Our focus this week was to try to figure out how we could come here and win this race. It's one race at a time, it's all you can do. We understand the position that we're in. We understand what an uphill battle it is, but we also know that we've been dealt some crazy cards this year and have overcome a lot. We never quit and we won't just because the first race has gone the way it did at Chicago, doesn't mean we're going to quit now either. If I had a magic ball that I could predict what was going to happen, I could say a lot of things. None of us can. Just because (Brad) Keselowski won last week doesn't mean he's going to win the championship. Jimmie Johnson having a strong finish of second doesn't mean he's going to win the championship. Denny Hamlin saying, 'I'm going to win this weekend because I had a great practice,' doesn't mean he's going to win the championship. There's no reason to say that we are or are not going to win the championship where we're at either."
WHY HAS NEW HAMPSHIRE BEEN A GOOD TRACK FOR YOU?: "I love this track. It's just one of those tracks where I have a really good feel of what I feel like I need to get the car through the corners good and be able to make good passes and have good speed. There's a few tracks on the circuit, probably a handful of them that I have that kind of confidence at -- Martinsville comes to mind. This is sort of like a big Martinsville."
ARE YOU OFF TO A GOOD START AFTER PRACTICE?: "I always love it because everybody looks at where we ended up in practice, but if you look at the overall practice, we weren't very fast in our race runs, but we had one really good qualifying run. Ask me tomorrow. I think that we have a great shot at qualifying well and I'm excited about that. Hope we back that up. Tomorrow we have some work to do for the race."
WHAT CHALLENGES DOES DOVER PRESENT?: "I was very optimistic with our performance earlier this year, we were very fast. I can't remember what happened, we had some sort of problem that kept us from getting not only a win, but a great finish there. That certainly has me excited about going back. We've been good there at times, but it's been awhile since we've been good there like we were there earlier this year. If we can back that up, this could be the best opportunity we've had in a long time to win at Dover."
DID YOU THINK DENNY HAMLIN'S STATEMENT ABOUT WINNING WAS A PRETTY BOLD STATEMENT?: "He's backing it up so far, right now we're all racing for second based on what I saw in practice. That's why we race."
HAVE YOU GONE INTO RACES WITH BOLD STATEMENTS BEFORE?: "Not to the public, no. I've said it to myself. I called Steve Letarte onetime years ago and told him before Sonoma that we were going to win the race and that day we did, but that's the only time I can ever remember doing that."
IS DENNY HAMLIN PUTTING HIMSELF OUT THERE WITH THE STATEMENT?: "Maybe he knows something we don't know. I certainly don't like to put myself in that position, but those guys have been good this year and we all expect them to be a real threat for the championship. It wasn't the best way for them to get started, showed that everybody has weaknesses and makes mistakes. I expect him to be strong this weekend and several others in this Chase."
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