Richmond: Press Conference & Post-Qualifying Transcript
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Richmond International Raceway and discussed being fastest in the final practice session, the penalties levied this week against Joe Gibbs Racing, the new qualifying format NASCAR announced this week for Sonoma and Watkins Glen and other topics. Full Transcript:
YOU WERE FASTEST IN THE FINAL PRACTICE SESSION TELL US ABOUT IT:
"The last qualifying run went really well. It makes you nervous when you are practicing during the day and you are going to qualify at night and you are fastest in your qualifying run. Because you know the track is going to change. We are going to try to do our best using previous experience and notes to make sure that we adjust it right for when the sun goes down. We drew a really late number as well so we have been good here qualifying in the past. I think we could have a shot at it today. That is certainly good. We have seen here as well where qualifying doesn't really mean that much if you don't get that car working really well in race trim. So we really are working hard on that aspect of it."
TALKING ABOUT QUALIFYING NASCAR MADE THE ANNOUNCEMENT THIS WEEK THAT THE QUALIFYING SESSIONS WOULD BE CHANGED FOR THE ROAD COURSES WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THAT?
"It's cool. I'm a big fan of Formula 1 and I love knock out qualifying. I kind of was hoping that we would go more towards the knock out qualifying session because I think in road racing that gives you that opportunity to do that. But we have 45/50 cars that we have to get qualified in so it's a little bit more challenging to do that. You are obviously going to have that clock and the ability to kind of make a second lap if you need to. Which at Sonoma I think that is the biggest thing is trying to get heat in the tires and make that lap the way we do it on single lap qualifying is very challenging. I think what I'm looking forward to most is being able to go out there and really plan your lap and get heat in the tires as you cross that line and then lay down that lap. It will be very interesting to see how that goes. I'm certainly anxious to try a new format."
WHAT IS YOUR REACTION TO THE PENALTIES THIS WEEK AGAINST JOE GIBBS RACING?
"We have always known that engine related incidences get very severe penalties. It just seems to me like in that instance it's not worth, not only what intentions could be, but also not double checking and making sure that you do all your checks and balances. To make sure that those parts and pieces, even if it's a mistake, doesn't get in that engine, which is something that I know Hendrick Motorsports works extremely hard on, because we know how severe those types of penalties can be. It's unfortunate they are having a great year and when you look at who is responsible for it I don't know if they are getting penalized as much as the team is. But we also know ultimately the crew chief and the car owner on that team is who NASCAR holds responsible. Somebody has got to be responsible for it."
WHAT DO YOU EXPECT TO SEE AT TALLADEGA NEXT WEEK?
"I'm certainly very anxious to see because bigger wider race track compared to Daytona. In Daytona I feel like we learned a lot about being very patient and picking and choosing your moments to try to make passes. I certainly tried to make some that didn't work out and cost us a lot of positions. We saw single file through the middle section of the race, but yet still be extremely exciting in the closing laps. I think that you are going to see certainly that at the end. The unknown is with this bigger, wider track are we going to be able to complete those passes that we weren't able to at Daytona. We did see handling be a bigger issue at Daytona when you were around other cars on the longer runs. That doesn't normally seem to be the case at Talladega, so we won't know until we get there, get in practice, start drafting and run our race."
YOU ARE IN THE SAME SHOP WITH KASEY KAHNE HOW GOOD ARE THEY RIGHT NOW?
"Kasey (Kahne) and Kenny (Francis, crew chief) were going through a lot of changes. That whole shop was last year being new to Hendrick. I think that is tough for anybody to come into a new environment and just get into the rhythm and flow and get started off by being very competitive, winning races and not having issues. We saw how strong they were this second half of the season and it looks like this year they have been able to kind of pick up where they left off and get off to a much better start this season. So that is great."
ARE YOU IMPRESSED WITH KYLE LARSON'S TRANSITION SO FAR FROM DIRT TO ASPHALT?
"I'm impressed with Kyle Larson for a lot of reasons and a lot of different series. I raced sprint cars. I raced midgets and of course the last 20 plus years been racing in NASCAR. To me non-winged sprint car on dirt is probably one of the hardest race cars there is to drive. He makes it look pretty easy. He can jump back and forth and be competitive in just about everything that he gets into. I think he has impressed a lot of people."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET SS - QUALIFIED THIRD TELL US ABOUT YOUR RUN:
"I knew I was close. I came across the line and I said 'man please tell me that is it' because I knew we were talking hundredths at this place. The first lap I went to get in the gas off of (turn) four and the back end jumps out that was pretty much it for that lap. I tried to feel the car out and see what it was doing it felt like it was doing the things it wanted to do the second lap. I drove into (turn) one really deep and just didn't quite turn as good as I needed it to. I knew that was a good corner, but not a great corner so I tried to make up for it down here. I actually got through there really good. Came up a little bit short, but still all-in-all a great day for the Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet."
POST QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT:
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET SS, QUALIFIED 3RD: ON HIS QUALIFYING EFFORT:
"It was a really solid day for us. We went through so much the last time we were here. I think we learned a lot through that experience. We've qualified well here the last several times; have come close to being on the pole, also losing by a one-hundredth I think. We ran a great lap in practice there to close out practice. I was a little nervous at that time. I was like 'this is too early to be that fast, and have that good of a car'. Then it is just a guessing game. How hard you drive it. How to make adjustments to the car; what the guys are going to do that. All-in-all, I am very pleased to be within one-hundredths, two hundredths and be third. Great place to start this race. Good pit stall selection. I feel like our car is going to be good in the race as well."
IS THERE A FEELING AMONG YOU DRIVERS THAT IT IS KIND OF YOU AGAINST NASCAR? AFTER THE WEEK THAT MATT (KENSETH) HAS BEEN THROUGH, IS THERE KIND OF A "YEAH MATT" FEELING IN THE GARAGE?
"I was kind of thinking of my weekend last week in Kansas, and I was thinking how I deserved to get the pole after starting 43rd last week. But, I guess after his week, maybe he deserved it a little bit more. (LAUGHS) You know, I don't think so. I think that you go through the ups and downs of this sport if you've been in it long enough. Sometimes mistakes are going to be made, or things are going to happen. I've been on both sides. We had manifold issues here one time where it was made out of the wrong material, and it was a GM part that was sent to us. It was a mistake, but ultimately the team takes that responsibility and pays the price. You feel for everybody on the team. You feel for others when that happens. But, it is just kind of the way it works."
IS IT POSSIBLE FOR HIS (MATT KENSETH) TEAM CAN BE MORE MOTIVATED BECAUSE OF THIS, AND HAVE BETTER PERFORMANCE?
"If being angry, and wanting to have revenge makes you better, then yes. That's kind of maybe going back to your question as well is that when things like this happen, and you don't feel like it's unjust that you kind of take it upon yourself as a team to just push a little harder; just do a little bit more. Sometimes you don't know that you have that in you, but it is amazing how in that moment you can find a little bit more. I think we've seen it in Brad as well with the No. 2 team and that fight. Sometimes it tears you apart, or tears you down. And, sometimes it lifts you up and makes your stronger, and makes you fight harder. The thing is that Matt and his team, they are a rock solid team. They have been showing it this whole year, and continue to. To me, whatever happened this past weekend is not going to affect how those guys perform going forward."
DOES THE MANUFACTURER HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO THE TEAMS TO DO THE BEST THEY CAN TO COVER THE FINANCIAL END OF WHAT NASCAR HANDS DOWN AGAINST THAT TEAM?
"There is an argument for that. Again, the team is ultimately responsible because they are the one that signs off on everything and take that car. So, if there is a part or piece, doesn't matter who delivered it to them, where it was manufactured, it is still their responsibility to put it on the car, and make sure that it passes inspection. But as an insider on the team, you are pretty upset when you feel like 'ok, this is not a part or piece that we need to go through and check the metal...'. We weigh every rod I know when we get them. No there's not a single...and we actually have them heavy. Ours are to the heavy side just to be safe. That's just what I'm hearing that we do. So, you just assume that is what every team does. I don't know if that is the case in this scenario."
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