JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Martinsville Speedway and discussed racing at Martinsville Speedway, wheel hop and other topics. Full Transcript:
TALK ABOUT THIS RACE TRACK OBVIOUSLY YOU HAVE FOUR RACES TO GO AND THIS IS A PLACE I WOULD THINK YOU WOULD THINK THAT YOU COULD COME OUT OF WITH A WIN:
“Absolutely, we come in here feeling really good about this race track and our race team. We have had a lot of positive things that have happened to us over the last six weeks. Then to come with a good feeling about where we are at as a race team and our race cars and come into one of my favorite race tracks, a track that we have had good results at, not only in the past, but this year it definitely is something that we come into very excited about. We focused on qualifying today; feel like getting that number one pit stall is so worth it here so we are fighting hard for that. Looking forward to that opportunity today and hopefully we can achieve that and if not hopefully we can just still put a good qualifying run together. Then really looking forward to focusing on the race tomorrow and get ourselves prepared for Sunday.”
YOU WON AT PHOENIX IN 2007 AND 2011 CAN YOU JUST TALK ABOUT THOSE WINS BRIEFLY AND WHAT KIND OF TRACK IT IS FOR YOU?
“Back in 2011 it was a great track for us. I wish it would have stayed the same. They repaved it and that changed our entire world at Phoenix. Phoenix has always been kind of a hit or miss track for me in general. When Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) came on board as a crew chief or really I went on board with their team I was pretty excited about Phoenix. It showed when we went there and we won that race. Ever since they repaved it, it is completely different. Between that and Kansas those are the two tracks that we put on our calendars as tracks that we have to improve. That we have to really focus and execute and we could struggle there if we are not careful. Kansas went pretty well for us and I’m optimistic that Phoenix can as well. Each time we go there it ages and it feels like it gets more and more back to a feel that I like and a track that we can be competitive at. Right now just the way things are going in general I look forward to going to every track. I just think as a race team we are in sync. Our race cars are driving well, my confidence is up and I feel like that is going to bode well for us at Phoenix as well.”
YOUR PEPSI AD HAS BEEN GETTING A LOT OF PLAY DURING THE WORLD SERIES HAVE YOU GOTTEN MANY RESPONSES FROM THAT?
“Well I mean after it got 40 million hits on YouTube I think it’s kind of hard to top that. It’s just been an amazing year when you look at how we started with the Harlem Shake and then that video. We did all of that before the season started and had a lot of fun doing it. You never know how people are going to react to it and what’s going to happen with it overall. Obviously it’s been a great marketing strategy for Pepsi Max and they have certainly enjoyed it, so have I. Every time it airs on something I still laugh and people react. It’s not going to be as big of a reaction as what we got when it first came onto YouTube though.”
DID YOU ATTEND THE NASCAR MEETING ON THURSDAY?
“I had a Pepsi production day that day, so, no. I would like to know about meetings like that more than two weeks in advance because I would like to attend them. We just need to plan a little bit better to try to get those types of meetings together. Not that I could have changed anything because we had that Pepsi shoot scheduled pretty far in advance. I was really looking at it more from the concussion standpoint. Dr. Petty is a good friend of mine. He’s somebody I have spent a lot of time speaking to. I see him on a weekly basis because I go to their facility for my back. It’s just a standard kind of workout that I do every week. So we are always in touch. I feel pretty confident from that standpoint. I probably didn’t understand that there was going to be a lot more than that discussed at that meeting. I have done a baseline test so I feel good about that and the direction that they are going and I agree with it.”
ONE OF THE THINGS THEY BROUGHT UP IN THAT MEETING WAS THE RESPONSIBILITY THAT DRIVERS HAVE ON TWITTER AS FAR AS WHAT THEY TWEET. DO YOU THINK THAT DRIVERS SHOULD HAVE A CERTAIN LEVEL OF MATURITY AND KNOW WHAT IS RIGHT AND WHAT IS WRONG BEFORE THEY GET HERE IN THE FIRST PLACE?
“Well I think every person should have good common sense. I think that is what it really comes down to. I think with social media we all recognize that the fun it can be. We recognize the benefits it can have for marketing for our sponsors and so many other benefits. But also you have to be careful you can’t just go on a wild spree. You can’t always just speak your mind because it’s there. I think we have all been there where we probably stepped over the line. Every time I put a tweet together I read it two and three times going ‘is this what I want to put out there? Do I want people to read this?’ Sometimes my emotions get the best of me and I push send and I probably maybe shouldn’t have, but I do try to use the best common sense that I can in everything that I send out there before it goes. Plus, I’m a spell freak. I like to spell things right. It’s hard to do on Twitter.”
DURING THE FIRST PRACTICE, PEOPLE WERE COMPLAINING ABOUT WHEEL HOP. WE HEAR IT A LOT, BUT NOBODY HAS EVER EXPLAINED IT. CAN YOU WALK US THROUGH IT AND WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT IN TERMS OF SET-UP OR DRIVING STYLE?
“We mainly hear about it on the road courses because you are braking so aggressively into the corners at the road courses. It happens here as well, on occasions. It’s definitely something that I’ve had to work on over the years.
“But basically, as you drive into the corner, and these cars, even as much as they’ve advanced in braking and weight transfer and downforce and everything over the years, when you try to slow that car down as abruptly as we’re trying to on these tracks, and the wheel speed starts to try to slow down faster than what the engine and rear gear speed and driveshaft and all those components that are connected are slowing down, then the rear tires start to lose grip and they basically go into a ‘hopping’ mode where you can’t control it. You just have to hang on tight and straighten the wheel out and hope that there’s some room for error out there, which there’s not a lot of room for error here.
“So really, to me, there’s not much you can do about the set-up, in my opinion; I mean a little bit with truck arm angle can help, but other than that, it really comes down to how abruptly you let out of the gas and apply the brake. And this is one place where I think how you apply the brakes is the most crucial part of success at this track; which is why I think some people really struggle here.”
TODAY WE TALKED ABOUT THE TWO CONTENDERS FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP, MATT KENSETH AND JIMMIE JOHNSON. MATT HAS MADE A MOVE THIS YEAR AND JIMMIE HAS LONGEVITY WITH HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS. WHAT IS YOUR PERSPECTIVE ON THE ADVANTAGES A PERSON WOULD HAVE WITH A SPONSOR AND A RACE TEAM AND HOW IS THAT BENEFICIAL?
“Well, obviously being comfortable and going through so many different scenario situations, stressful situations, positive situations, wins and championships, there is certainly a lot to be said about that continuity of that race team. I think it’s equally as challenging though, to try to stay on top of your game and continue to push yourself and every individual on the team and trying to constantly get better. I think that if a team that’s really good, like the No. 48, can stay together and have very little turnover but continue to push those limits, that’s the ultimate.
“I think all the time, back to when Ray (Evernham, crew chief) and I were together, and if we could have just made it through 1999. Now I don’t know if it would have changed his offer to go do the Dodge team, but that was a tough year for us. And I was growing and things were changing and we went through a time where I felt like I could do it without him and he felt like well, maybe he can do it without me but I’ve got another opportunity. And we’ve been able to stay close friends through it all, but we always talk about that time. And I really think that if you make it through those tough times it only makes you stronger. I think if we had done that, we could have really gone on to even win more championships together.
“So, I credit Jimmie and (crew chief) Chad (Knaus) and all that they’ve been through because not all of it has been great. It certainly looks that way. But they’ve gone through their ups and downs as well and I really give them a lot of credit for sticking together. They’re a great team and they’re going to win a lot if they can stay together, and they’ve proven that.
“With Matt, he’s a great driver and he goes over to Gibbs and they’ve got a great program. And I think that it just shows the quality of both, the quality of what Matt brings and the quality of what Gibbs has. By blending those two together, they’ve had a great combination. Sometimes you hit that right away and other times it takes years to find it. They obviously hit on some things right away and other than the penalty that they had earlier in the year, they’ve been able to just keep building on that throughout the year. I think everybody knew they were going to be a real threat for the championship when the Chase came around.”
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