New Hampshire: Press Conference Transcript
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and discussed racing at New Hampshire, the championship contenders, Twitter, IndyCar, racing at Daytona and other topics. FULL TRANSCRIPT:
WHAT ARE YOUR FEELINGS ABOUT BEING BACK AT NEW HAMPSHIRE AND HOW WAS PRACTICE THIS MORNING?:
"Obviously from those numbers, I like it here. We tested here and it's always beneficial to test. I thought we had a pretty challenging practice. Conditions I think changed from the test quite a bit on us and even just how quickly things are advancing with the sport. You come here whatever it was two months ago and just going week to week and how the setups evolved, speed in the cars, learning more and so here we are trying new things and completely different things than what we even tested here. Some of the things worked and some of the things didn't work, but we ended the practice on a positive note with some good qualifying runs. Looking forward to qualifying and hopefully we can make a few more gains and get us a solid starting position and then learn what we learn from today and apply it to tomorrow to get ready for the race on Sunday. It's always a track I look forward to."
DO YOU FEEL THE BANKING AT NEW HAMPSHIRE OR DO YOU CONSIDER IT MORE A FLAT TRACK?:
"Yeah, from where I'm sitting it feels like it has negative banking. It's very, very flat."
DO YOU PLAN TO RACE UNTIL YOU'RE 71 YEARS OLD LIKE MORGAN SHEPHERD AND HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT HIM RACING AT THAT AGE?:
"I think everyone is made different and how they apply themselves and stay healthy. I think a doctor and Morgan (Shepherd) are the ones that decide that and I think that should be the case with every individual. I think if you are taking good care of your body and you pass all the physicals, then should there be a little bit more strenuous type of workout to pass that physical examination to make sure that you are prepared at that age? Maybe, but I think if you're out there capable of doing it and you are willing to do it and you pass the physical, then I think you should be allowed to do it. I think that's quite an accomplishment I will say. We talk about how amazing it is to see Mark Martin out there being competitive over 50 years old, but to just go out there and do what he does as far as Morgan is concerned at 71, that's amazing. And no, you will not see me out there doing that at 71."
HOW DO YOU JUDGE YOUR COMPETITIVENESS AT THIS POINT IN THE SEASON AND ARE YOU EXCITED FOR INDIANAPOLIS?:
"Competitiveness versus results are two different things for me right now. We've really struggled this year. Earlier in the year with the competitiveness and then we started to get into competitiveness in the cars just driving better and more to my liking and the speed being there. I think we've maybe have had it during the race most of the year, but qualifying we've struggled so that's something that we've been working on and I was very pleased with what happened at Kentucky and I hope we can see some more progress there on the mile-and-a-halves. On these types of tracks we've been pretty competitive qualifying and in the race so I hope that continues. I'm very much looking forward to Indianapolis. Same thing kind of applies to Indy as it does here, we tested there which is always great and beneficial, but things have evolved since that test and I think our cars have improved since that test and we'll be trying to apply that when we get there. All signs of that test and things that we have planned, I'm very excited. We had a shot of winning that race a couple years ago and I always go to that track with confidence and feeling good. When the car and the team are feeling the same way, then that's a great combination to have."
DO YOU SEE JIMMIE JOHNSON AND MATT KENSETH SEPARATING THEMSELVES FROM THE FIELD IN THIS CHAMPIONSHIP BATTLE AS FAR AS BEING IN CONTENTION FOR WINS?: "I would say that certainly up to this point they have and I agree with you. I think both of those guys could have won more races than that. The difference is that the way it used to be is you separated yourself through your consistency, especially if you won a bunch of races and top-fives and nobody had a chance of ever catching you. It was over. Even if your momentum didn't quite continue the last 10 races of the year, you had such a stretch that you could just kind of give and take a little bit or maybe maintain the momentum and killed it like we did in 1998 where we just continued that all the way to the final race. With the Chase, that's what changes. All of a sudden everything gets reset and all of a sudden you might have a small advantage based on your wins, but basically it's something that you're all on a clean slate now and you have to put the best 10 races that you've put together all season long right then and there to win the championship. That really just in itself breaks up the momentum that you had. I always feel like the best teams always win the championship. It seems like they throughout the season build that team up and when the Chase starts, the guys that executed the best are the ones that win it. I think the 2 (Brad Keselowski) had that last year and the 14 (Tony Stewart) the year before, even though he didn't have any momentum, they did everything they needed to do to put themselves in position to go and execute well and put a championship run together. We've seen the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) do that as well. Right now I think it's the 48's to lose. They've been so strong and because they've won five championships, you don't expect them to go away anytime soon and you don't expect them to lose that momentum when the Chase starts. Because it is the Chase, anything is possible and can happen."
WHY AREN'T OTHER TEAMS DOING WELL BEING RECOGNIZED AS CHAMPIONSHIP CONTENDERS?:
"I think it's just history. The dominance that Jimmie (Johnson) and the 48 team have had over the years and the records that they continue to set or break draw a lot of attention and I think that what they need is a good rival. That's what I think creates a great story. I think people and even the media and the competitors, you want to have somebody that you love to hate. Unless you're that team winning all the time, you're not going to be real happy about them when they go to victory lane. You're going to want to figure out how to beat them. I think that's kind of where people are, but he's also building just a heck of a resume and stats sheet and just doing unbelievable things that I don't think truly and I've said this for years, I don't think will truly be respected until years down the road. It's unfortunate for those guys because it seems like every time they do something amazing and good, they get a little bit of recognition, but then it's more of they are stinking up the show, this is not good for the sport and I find that to be pretty unfair. I think they probably don't care a whole lot about it either after they're celebrating the victory."
WHAT IS YOUR REACTION TO PEOPLE THINKING A CREW CHIEF CHANGE WILL AUTOMATICALLY MAKE A TEAM START WINNING RACES?:
"First of all, I don't think anybody should speak to, everybody can have their own opinions and with Twitter and Facebook and the internet these days, the opinions flow freely and everybody has a voice. That's great and it's cool that people are interacting that way. I don't think anybody can really give true criticism unless they're inside the organization and they see the relationship and they are in the meetings or they see how we work together at the track and away from the track. To me, I've put as much blame on myself this year as I have when we're not qualifying well, I feel like that I haven't given the effort to the team. I know our cars are better than that and then there's been times where we've made mistakes and we've had freaky crazy things happen to us and I'm always a big believer on it's not about luck, it's about making your own luck and through preparation and hard work and putting yourself in position for good things to happen. It seems like every time we get ourselves in that position something changes and those are things that are not a crew chief's fault or a driver's fault or a team or crew member's fault. I don't know if you're speculating to Alan (Gustafson, crew chief), but he is one of the best crew chiefs in this garage area and anytime that I see or hear that, it frustrates me because I know how good he is. Trust me, nobody is more frustrated with our performance this year than I am and our team is because it's not because of a lack of effort. We know what our teammates are capable of doing and are doing and there is no reason why we shouldn't be right there along with them. We've changed crew chiefs, teams, pit crews, we've done everything over the years to try to keep up with the 48 and it hasn't been successful yet, but that doesn't mean we're not going to keep trying and that just shows you how good those guys are and I love my loyal fans that will go with me all the way to the bottom of the ocean even if it was my fault. That's just loyalty and you have to love that."
DO YOU FOLLOW DRIVERS ON TWITTER?:
"Yeah I do."
DO YOU FOLLOW JIMMIE JOHNSON OR READ WHAT HE TWEETS?:
"I have a lot of fans that are usually talking to both of us, so I see his Twitter handle and a lot of tweets that are tweets to me or tweets to him."
DOES JIMMIE JOHNSON COME ACROSS MORE INTERESTING ON TWITTER?:
"Maybe I don't follow him quite as much as you do. The thing is I don't have to follow him to know how interesting he is because I've partied with the guy. I've hung out with Jimmie enough to know that he's a very interesting, great person and works very hard at being as good as he is and there is no surprise there. Twitter, I think a good bit of his personality comes out in his tweets and again I'm not following it quite as much as maybe you are or others. He's mixing it up and having fun and being loose and I think that's the great thing about Twitter is everybody gets to see a different side of you as well as they get to interact with you. It's a great tool and great fun to have."
ARE YOU MORE FUN OFF TWITTER?:
"I am. I had a pretty good night last week. Everybody thought my Twitter account had been hacked, because I actually said some comments and kind of got outside my norm and all of a sudden everybody thought this was not Jeff (Gordon) and somebody had hacked my Twitter account. I didn't know how to take that exactly. Sort of hurt my feelings. I guess I'm definitely more fun when I'm not on Twitter."
WOULD YOU LIKE TO RUN INDIANAPOLIS IN A CONTROLLED ENVIRONMENT IN AN INDYCAR?:
"That's a good question. Honestly, the whole time I was there I didn't think about that at all. I know that might be odd, but I really just was thinking of it from a purely entertainment standpoint seeing my son see a different kind of car and just whether he's entertained by it or not. Most of it was for him and my nephew who was also with me. For me it was being amazed at how fast those cars go through those corners, corners that I'm used to going through at much slower speeds and just the technology of the cars. Would I like to drive one of those cars somewhere? Yeah, I would. My biggest thing that holds me back from doing a lot of things is I want to be competitive in whatever it is I'm in and I know if I go run five or 10 laps whether it be a rally car or an IndyCar or whatever car, that's not enough for me to go be competitive and if I can't go be competitive in it then I usually don't have fun. That's just my personality. It's not about just sliding the car sideways or feeling it stick at 220 mph, it's about can I be as fast as somebody else and so no, honestly that didn't persuade me to want to go do it. As a matter of fact, I was speaking to (James) Hinchcliffe and then moments later he's spinning back into the wall, the guy barely flinched and he couldn't catch it and I felt bad for him and also thought I had no desire to go get in that car."
IS THERE ANYTHING NASCAR NEEDS TO CONSIDER CHANGING ON THE CARS BEFORE NEXT YEAR'S DAYTONA 500?:
"I will say that the way we approached the July race was a lot different than February where we saw guys really get in line and run that high line a lot more in July where guys were a lot more racy and pushing the limits and trying to get that track position and working with other guys to do that -- and girls. I thought the racing was really good. The only thing, is that being out front is a little bit too much of an advantage right now. It's very hard to organize a group to pass the leader. Even that run that Tony (Stewart) got coming into three and through three and four, he got a pretty good push from the 29 (Kevin Harvick) and it didn't materialize as much as I thought it would. Seemed like it just stopped pretty quick. I think that looking at some of the aero package, I like the way the cars drive and I like how we are able to mix it up and be three-wide and that has a little to do with the draginess and downforce of the car, but if there was something to allow a car to get a little more of a sling shot on the leader, that would be the only thing I would recommend. Don't know if I know enough how to make that happen, but that's what I would shoot for."
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