Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet, met with members of the media at Martinsville Speedway and discussed the first practice session, changing track conditions and other topics.
HOW DID PRACTICE GO FOR YOU GUYS? “That practice went really well. You will always know track conditions are a little bit different here on Friday than they are even on Saturday and especially on Sunday. So I think we took that into account. I felt like we had some really good notes and baseline to start with from the last race where we ran so well. We were able to actually kind of use today as more of a test session than anything else. I thought it went really well.”
YOU TALK ABOUT TRACK CONDITIONS. SUNDAY LOOKS LIKE IT COULD BE OVERCAST LIKE TODAY, BUT MUCH COLDER. HOW MUCH DOES IT BEING OVERCAST TODAY GIVE YOU AN IDEA OF WHAT YOU WILL FACE ON SUNDAY? “The difference is that it doesn’t matter if the weather is changing a whole lot or consistent and the same. The track just changes when you get 43 cars out there putting rubber down. The groove changes and a lot of things change. We know what the weather is predicted to be on Sunday and on Saturday night we will take those things into consideration on what we think they may or may not do with the balance of the car.”
THE WAY THINGS ENDED HERE IN THE SPRING WOULD YOU CHANGE ANYTHING NOW HAVING GONE THROUGH IT THE WAY IT WAS? “Oh yeah, if you know everybody behind you is coming in then you come in too, but you don’t know that. If you come in somebody is going to stay out. Obviously, when you have 100 plus laps on your tires we were sitting ducks. We were in a position to kind of force those guys to knock us out of the way and they did. It cost them, well at least (Clint) Bowyer as well. The best way would have been to come in and probably at least got two tires. I don’t know in that position that is the worst position to be in because they are going to do the exact opposite of what you do. You are kind of in a pretty deep hole right there. You hate to give up that track position because you feel like somebody is probably going to win the race by staying out, but looking back on it; it’s pretty easy to say we probably should have come in.”
OF THE TOP THREE PEOPLE THAT ARE IN THE CHASE WHO DO YOU THINK HAS THE MOST PRESSURE ON THEM? “Well this weekend I would say it’s Brad Keselowski and that is because this is not his best track. It’s a track that he is up against two guys that are very good here. So that puts a little bit more pressure on him. He’s leading the points and been doing a great job. I think this will be a real test for Brad. I feel like he handles pressure well. Leaving here I think he is in pretty good shape so this is a big test of how they survive this weekend.”
IS IT THEM YOU PUT YOUR MONEY ON OR ARE YOU GOING TO PUT IT ON YOUR TEAMMATE? “It’s hard to go against the No. 48 they are pretty stout. They know how to step up. I’m not putting my money on anybody, but I think that they are going to be very difficult to beat. When they are in contention they rarely ever give it up.”
YOU SEE ALL THE TIME WHERE DRIVERS SAY THE THING THAT WORRIES THEM ARE THE DRIVERS THAT AREN’T IN THE CHASE, TO GET CAUGHT UP IN THEIR WRECKS AND THAT KIND OF THING. WHAT HAPPENED WITH THE NO. 10 CAR (DURING THE SPRING RACE) KIND OF SCREWED YOU GUYS. IN A SITUATION LIKE WHAT HAPPENED WITH KYLE (BUSCH) AND RYAN (NEWMAN) LAST WEEK WITH GUYS THREATENING REVENGE AND ALL THAT, IF YOU ARE AROUND THOSE GUYS ON THE TRACK ARE YOU AWARE OF THAT? DO YOU WORRY ABOUT THAT? “First of all I’m not one of those drivers that ever say those things that you are talking about. What happened with the No. 10 car was a totally different situation and would have been uncalled for, for any moment in the season. I think that when I’m out there in the Chase and I’m racing for a championship I try to recognize the situation that I’m in and I hope that my competitors recognize the same situation. This is a perfect example here at Martinsville. You’ve got a championship battle on the line, three guys up front that could be up here battling for the win. You could have somebody who is further back in points very hungry for a win and has a really good car that day that is going to be really aggressive. If you are in the points battle do you race that guy and say well he should know that I’m racing for a championship so give me a little more leeway or should he you go wait a minute I’m racing for a championship this guy is being really aggressive maybe I just need to get out of his way. I think that is what makes it so unique and challenging and exciting the format that we have because those different mind sets are happening all the time. As long guys are out there on the race track then they deserve the respect to try to go win the race and get their position. Even guys that are a lap down, they are racing for a position as well. They are not just moving out of your way. Those are the challenges that come your way trying to win a championship that are not just an easy matter to deal with and understand.”
CAN YOU RECALL TIMES WHERE YOU HAD TO PLAY HURT SOMETIMES MAYBE YOU QUESTIONED WHETHER YOU SHOULD HAVE GONE OUT BUT YOU HAD TO BECAUSE IT WAS YOUR JOB? “Yeah, when I had that bad wreck at (Las) Vegas several years ago I was hurting. I had to test that week. I could have very easily sat that test out and probably should have. I had a lot of minor internal injuries. I don’t know I probably didn’t need to be out there. I don’t know if I had a head injury or not, but the only other times I had some bruised ribs from the Texas wreck. Luckily I had a weekend off the next week because I remember going on vacation and not being able to do much on vacation. Thinking there is no way I could have driven a race car this weekend. Then the next race was Bristol and I was hurting, but had I taken another hit I would have been in really bad shape, but I made it through the race okay. Again it wasn’t a head injury I think it was a little bit different. You know people play and compete hurt all the time in sports, but when you are dealing with a head injury it’s a lot different.”