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NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES: AAA 400


September 28, 2014


Jeff Gordon


DOVER, DELAWARE

THE MODERATOR:¬† We're joined now by the winner of the 45th annual AAA 400, driver of the No.24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, Jeff Gordon.¬† This is his 92nd victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, his fourth victory and 19th top 10 finish in 2014, and his fifth victory and 25th top‑10 finish in 44 races here at Dover International Speedway.¬† Jeff, congratulations, very exciting race there.¬† Tell us how it was from your point of view.
JEFF GORDON:¬† Yeah, it was a really solid race all day long.¬† I know we had that one little hiccup on pit road and we over‑adjusted one time, got a little bit loose, but other than that the car was just solid from the drop of the green.¬† Our strength was definitely the longer runs.¬† After about‑‑ it took probably a good 10, 15 laps before our car came in.¬† I don't know if that was tire pressure or what it was, but sometimes just the pace.¬† But my car really came to life then and we could start reeling in guys. ¬†Especially when we got into traffic my car was real maneuverable.¬† I was pretty happy from the start with what we had and we just kept trying to tune on it, and one time we over‑adjusted and got a little bit loose, and from that point out we were able to tighten it back up, and all the way to the end I knew we had a car that if we got long runs we were going to be one of the cars to beat.
I saw Kevin have his issues.  He was going to be tough.  He was really strong.
I felt like we had a shot at the 2 car.  We had kind of stayed with him throughout the day.  He really would fade after about 30 laps, and so I was able to run him down on one of those restarts on the longer run and get by him, and then at the end I was glad we had a lot of laps to go and that we didn't have a restart.  He would have been tough on the restarts.  But on that long run we definitely were the car to beat.

Q.  This win puts you up to 92 for your career.  Do you think in your opinion that you can reach 100?
JEFF GORDON:  I'm going to tell you the same thing I say every time I'm sitting here after a win:  It's awesome to have 92, and I look forward to challenging for 93.  I can't even think about 100 until we get to 99.
I mean, I never dreamed in a million years that I would be here talking to you after 92 wins, and especially at this point in my career, this many years in the sport, to be having the year that we're having, it's just something I never thought could happen.¬† It feels amazing, and right now if I felt like we could stay this competitive for the next several years, I would say, yeah, we could get there.¬† But right now it's just‑‑ we're just laser focused on this championship and going to the next race.¬† I don't think we're going to get to 100 this year, but I hope we get past 93.¬† That would be pretty awesome to get a couple more, and it almost takes a win to get to Homestead.¬† That's our goal is getting to Homestead, whatever it takes.

Q.¬† You mentioned the next race.¬† It seems like this Chase is now in three‑race mini‑seasons.¬† Can you look at this next three race cluster, Kansas where you won in the spring, and Charlotte and Talladega?¬† Can you kind of frame the new season?
JEFF GORDON:¬† Yeah.¬† I mean, this is very interesting how this format is playing out. ¬†These next three races are going to be tougher than the last three, and it's going to be tougher after those three.¬† We've got Talladega in this next one, so that's definitely going to shake things up, and that's what making Kansas and Charlotte so crucial and important and why you're going to see drivers and teams taking big risks at those two tracks, to try to make sure that you go into Talladega without having to come out of there with a car in one piece because the chances‑‑ to me the chances of wrecking at Talladega these days are about 80 percent.¬† The chances are so high the way the racing is, the way the drafting is, that even if you survive the wrecks all the way to the end, there's still probably going to be a wreck at the end.¬† You don't want to go in there worried about, oh, we've got to finish ninth or got to finish fifth.¬† That would just add a lot of stress.
I think that Kansas is a great track for us, always has been, but this year we won there.  Right now I'm really excited about getting there and seeing what we can do.  Regardless whether we win the next two races, we're going to need to have really solid finishes, again, to have some comfort going into Talladega.
You do have to somewhat look at just the next three races and not look too far ahead because you've got to make it through to the next round.  I think we're a team very capable of doing that, and I'm excited about our chances, not just these next three but all the way to Homestead.  We can't get that far ahead.  Sure, the team prepares for those races, to bring cars that can win there, but right now, for me, I'm just thinking about Kansas and nothing else.

Q.  Was it weird not to wonder about where you were in points after this race, and also, are you excited that you're now tied for the lead after the first three races, or are you somewhat disappointed you're not able to kind of put distance between yourself and other people?
JEFF GORDON:  Well, you know, we had a bad finish last week, so I don't know where this puts us in the points, had we kept going forward.  We have a very strong team and a very consistent team, and I like our chances this year no matter what the format is to be honest.  But right now because of what happened in New Hampshire, I'm kind of glad they're resetting it.
I mean, I think that we're a team that, again, is strong enough to win, but also good enough to be consistent, and I think that's what's going to get you through to the next round, and ultimately I think what it's going to take to win this championship.
I'm liking the format.  Right now when you have a car and a team like we have, you like whatever format there is, because you think you have a shot at it.

Q.  I asked this same question to Rick:  As you mentioned earlier, Kevin had problems, but at the end of the race, it basically became you against Brad, and I just wondered if coming out on top in that battle, given how the three of you have run all this season, if it kind of foretells good thing for the rest of the Chase?
JEFF GORDON:¬† I mean, it's one race.¬† I think Kevin definitely was the car to beat today, and I don't know if‑‑ even on long runs we could reel him in a little bit, but I don't know if we could have passed him.¬† I felt pretty confident against Brad if it wasn't a short run.
You know, it doesn't matter.  We're here in victory lane.  We battled with one of the top teams in the sport, the 2 car, and we came out on top.  I think that gives us confidence in what we're doing.
This is a unique track.  This is not Kansas, this is not Charlotte, and I don't know if there's really any other track that you can compare this one to moving forward of what it's going to take to win the championship.
We're happy with what we did today, but I don't think it necessarily means that we've got an edge on those guys.¬† We've got to work really, really hard, and I think there's‑‑ just like today, there's certain aspects of what we do that we have an edge on them.¬† Sometimes it's the longer runs.¬† The Penske cars I think have the best short run cars in the sport right now, and when it comes down to restarts at the end, those guys are almost impossible to beat.¬† If we have more races come down to long runs, I think we've got a great shot at them.
Kevin, those guys are extremely fast, but putting the whole race together, you can see that they have some things to work on there.  But they figure that out, I don't know anybody that can beat them.  They're just that fast.  Every weekend they have been.  What we have to do is just put pressure on those guys and continue to try to make our cars better each and every week, and I mean, that's what I love about what Alan is doing.  He's excited about what we just did today, but I guarantee he's already thinking about development of a car, setups for Kansas, for Charlotte, for down the road, getting ready for tests that we have coming up and all these different things.  That's what's going to really ultimately make us competitive enough to race with those guys.

Q.  I know you just talked about the confidence, but realistically what else comes out of a day like this, because like you say, the track is not going to mirror anything else, this format is different?  Yeah, it's great you got to celebrate in victory lane, but other than that what do you get out of a day like this and how does it help?
JEFF GORDON:  We get a lot out of it.  A win is a win.  Wins aren't easy to get in this sport.  You fight to get them; everybody does.  I think it makes a statement in one sense of what type of a team we are, how hard we fight, how you never count us out.  I think that it makes a statement that we're a team to beat for this championship.

Q.  But those statements were already out there, weren't they?
JEFF GORDON:  It legitimizes it to the next level in my opinion.  I think for us itself, it just gives us confidence and even more momentum to say, okay, we're in the heat of the battle, this is the crucial moments of this season of when it matters most; what are we capable of when that pressure is on like that.  That to me says a lot about who we are, the kind of team we are, and what our chances are moving forward.

Q.¬† You mentioned just a second ago that Alan is already looking, your words, down the road.¬† If this were not a three‑race season, as it were, how far down the road would a team generally be looking, and in this case are you looking beyond the next three‑race segment?
JEFF GORDON:¬† Well, and this is where things get really interesting from a team standpoint.¬† I mean, if you go win Kansas, you start looking for the next three races.¬† You can even‑‑ I don't know if you can look as far to Homestead‑‑ those guys do because they're building cars and preparing for our tests and everything, but really just almost throw away those next races from a prep standpoint, even though I think we can still go and win those races, but it's really putting even that much more‑‑ because you have to balance out your time.¬† The engineers only have so much time in the day to work through simulation and gather information from the wind tunnel and testing and all these things that they do.¬† They only have so much time in the day, and you've got to spread that out and prioritize it, and if you win Kansas, your priority becomes Martinsville and the races in Phoenix, and what's the other one in that segment?¬† I'm trying to think.¬† Texas.¬† You immediately just start going to work on all those things, where for us right now, it's not just Kansas, it's‑‑ for me it's just Kansas.¬† I mean, as a driver I don't think any further ahead than that.¬† But for the crew chief and for the engineers, they're thinking Kansas right now, but they're also prepping for Charlotte and for Talladega, as well.

Q.  Kyle Larson was in the media center earlier today and said that he wants to go out and win the first two races of this next round and really make all the Chasers nervous going into Talladega.  What do you think if no Chase driver wins those two races and nobody is locked in going into Talladega?
JEFF GORDON:  Well, if he wins the first two, I hope I finish second to him both of those races because that's the only thing that would give me any comfort at Talladega.  Yeah, I mean, he's capable of it.  He's running good.  They've been really running good every weekend.  But yeah, if a Chaser doesn't win it's going to make Talladega extremely interesting.  Now you guys are going to be writing all your stories hoping that nobody in the Chase wins the next two races.  I hope that doesn't happen.
It's our job to make sure we go out there and win those races, and the guys that aren't in the Chase, it's their job to make their own statement and try to make Talladega that much more interesting and exciting, which would be good for the sport.  There's certain things that happen that is more good for the teams and drivers and other things that are good for the fans and media and people watching.
Yeah, I don't want to know‑‑ even think about what that would be like going to Talladega under those circumstances.

Q.  You seem to have a really good time with your race team.  How important is that with as much pressure as all the teams are feeling right now for everybody to be on the same page?
JEFF GORDON:¬† Yeah, I think, you know, it's always a work in progress and balance.¬† You don't want to have so much fun to where you're not putting in the right amount of effort to prepare for the races or that you're not working hard enough.¬† When your guys work really hard and things are going well, I think it's important to get together as a group and have some fun, whether it be go to a go‑kart track or go to Sambo's, whatever it may be.¬† We have a team that's enjoying what we're doing a lot right now, but they're also working really, really hard, and I think we've got really good balance.
And I think that's led from the top.¬† I think that you can go all the way to the top to Rick Hendrick, but I think Alan Gustafson, the way he lives his life and the way he runs the team from the crew chief standpoint, he has great balance on how hard he works.¬† Nobody works harder than him.¬† But he likes to laugh and have fun and enjoy the spoils, as well, and I think that that translates to the team, everybody being able to go and enjoy those moments and times, and it's important to do that.¬† You can't just work, work, work, work, work.¬† You do that you're going to burn yourself out on a 38‑week schedule.¬† I think we have good balance.
THE MODERATOR:  Congratulations.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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