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June 22, 2020

Todd Gordon

Lincoln, Alabama

THE MODERATOR: Todd Gordon, today's winning crew chief. We'll get you right to questions.

Q. Talk about the season so far with Ryan. A new combination. You've been challenging for wins just about everywhere. Has that surprised you, been a pleasant surprise, or did you expect that all along?
TODD GORDON: Yeah, it's a great question.
I think in this situation it's a little different than what any normal driver change situation is. The one I can go back to is when Joey came onboard. That was bringing a guy on in 2013 that I'd never worked around. I'd seen him on the racetrack, but we had to build that relationship.
The cool part about the shuffle we did here at Team Penske is we do operate as three car numbers but one team. We sit in the debriefs together. We talk together. We talk through what we need to do to get better racecars together. That's all the crew chiefs, all the drivers.
Ryan wasn't a complete unknown to me. I think there was some sort of a relationship. We had talked through some things last year, how we worked together on the racetrack, things like that. There was a start of a relationship.
Obviously there's no notebook you can go back to to say we did this together and were successful with it, or we didn't like it and need to go in a different direction. There's been some challenges in that respect of trying to put together what my group of engineers and mechanics have been successful with with Joey, and looking at what Jeremy Bullins had done with Ryan and been successful and trying to put those things together.
You add that on top of coming back from the break, no practice, no qualifying, but make your best guess at the shop. Kudos to everybody on this 12 team. They've embraced the change. I think this makes six of the last seven races we've had top‑four finishes. The other one was an incident while we were trying to pass somebody for the lead.
To your point, I think Ryan has exceeded my expectations. He's done a phenomenal job. I think he's matured. I think he's doing great things. You saw it today. Just that last restart, a great example of it. The 47 didn't get a good run behind us, we didn't have any push. We got passed and lost the lead. That's a time when you can get frustrated and just shut down. You didn't see that at all out of Ryan. You saw him battle back, knew what he had. He knew he had speed, he overcame, came back to the front. We've seen that a lot this year.
The back to Martinsville, we drove through the field twice to finish second. He could have gotten down and he hasn't. He's done a phenomenal job of staying engaged and leading us, telling us what he wants, talking through things, staying focused on the big prize.
He's exceeded my expectations and I can't wait to see what we can do the rest of the season.

Q. All the Penske teams have won. How much pride do you take in that?
TODD GORDON: I think in a lot of ways I'll be honest, the first day they said it to me, I didn't get it. I like to put it as Roger sees a picture from 10,000 feet. I see it from the ground level. I don't see the whole picture. It took about a month of working through things to get where I understood the whole picture.
We were working forward, having great things going on through that month. As we went farther along, more things became relevant and aware to me that we put personalities and traits of teams and drivers together that I think can help them move to the next level.
You see it in Paul and Joey. Joey was almost my kid when he came in. He didn't need me any more in that respect. I think the change there, Paul challenges him differently than I did. That's worked out. Obviously I think Ryan has done a great job with our situation. I think he's had great runs. I feel badly because I feel like we've deprived him of a couple wins already this season. But they'll come. I think Jeremy and Brad are doing a great job together.
Once you kind of saw it on the racetrack, you get the whole picture. Roger and everybody at Team Penske, Tim, Michael, Travis, they get it. I think they made a great change that allowed all of our teams to kind of challenge each other to bring new things to the racetrack.

Q. You had a really good plan, the Penske group, worked well for much of the race today. At the end of the race you seemed to get separated. Were you concerned at all about not being able to work with your teammates or did you feel Ryan was strong enough on his own?
TODD GORDON: I think the caution fell at just the wrong time for everybody when you look at it. We had the opportunity, it was outside the fuel window for I think most of the field. When you're leading, you burn more fuel than you do when you're in the back. You lift more when you're 12th or 13th like we were. When you're out front in the first two or three spots, you're burning a lot more fuel.
I think the great part, I talked to Paul and Joey about this as I walked down pit road, there's times we haven't done this. We've been on the same program for all three of our cars. If the race falls the wrong way, you all three fall on the wrong side of the strategy.
In this case we ended up covering both bases. With the 22, he was as short as we were, but he drove forward. The thing if we get a caution, it's going to bring everybody back to him. It's going to play to his strength in that respect.
We rode for a while until we got to the point we saved enough fuel that we could race hard. Ryan did a great job of doing that. We could race hard earlier than a lot of the guys around us. That let us from around 15 to go let him start driving aggressively.
We had good stability in our racecar, could take pushes really well. I didn't think we had the outright fastest car, but I thought we had a great racecar and we could take pushes and work traffic with. Ryan did a great job of just letting himself get pushed up to the lead. As we were going by, the 8 was lifting trying to save fuel, the 22 was as well. It kind of left everybody as a sitting duck for where we were going. That last restart was a little bit of a nail‑biter because we figured we were right up against our fuel window. You don't know if you get it all when you got restarts going.
Kudos to us as race teams, just taking different sides of it so we cover both bases. Fortunate to come out of this with a green‑white‑checkered.

Q. What is Ryan going through being so close to Bubba, to see everybody in the garage come together before the race, so the solidarity, what was that moment like for everybody?
TODD GORDON: You got to talk to Ryan about where Ryan is at. They're really good friends. They vacation together, do a lot of things together. Bubba is a great guy. Really happy, fun, has done some great things for our sport. Out with the fan engagement through the rain delays, I've watched that, enjoyed that. He's a good person.
That's one of the things, I've been down here 20 some years, and this is a family. Once you're in it, you're part of it. I think you got to see today that it is a family, that everybody here supports our group together. The actions that happened, there was kind of a solidarity to how we make a statement.
The unfortunate incident of yesterday nobody agrees with, I don't. I don't at all. I had a compliment from my 15‑year‑old daughter when this all started to happen. You didn't raise me to see color. I don't. People are people. We all are human beings in the same path.
Stuff that happened yesterday is not acceptable. Not acceptable where we are today in the world. We've got to work our way by it. I think as a whole, the garage is by that. I don't think anything you saw is a depiction of anybody in this garage. Look forward to it being resolved where it came from because that's not what our sport is about, not what our garage is about.
Great to get back to racing. I think racing fixes a lot of things. Good to see them racing forward. I've got a couple really good friends on the 43 team. Obviously Ryan and Bubba are tight. The car chief over there has been with me for a lot of races, moved from race team to race team with me. The crew chief over there I worked with, was an engineer for him. Great people. Great organization. Glad we've made the steps past and will continue to march forward.

Q. This week we head up to Pocono for the first doubleheader. What have you had to go through as far as preparation? How will this weekend's delays impact you getting there and getting ready?
TODD GORDON: If we weren't going to get this in today it was going to be really painful. We were starting to work through the alternate plans of how we get cars prepared at the shop.
We have a great support team in the shop of assembly and setup people that aren't team specific to the travel side. We'll get back in the shop. I actually had my guys scheduled to work Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday this week, so they didn't get Monday off, they were here racing. I think they're all good with what came out of today. We'll be back at it tomorrow, Wednesday and Thursday. Have the truck loaded Thursday night and head up to Pocono.
The challenges of a double, it's really interesting. We put a lot of work into this in the preparation side, trying to understand what we want to do for the two races, what we want to have for a racecar, adjustability between the two races. With that top 20 invert, you might want a car that has a lot of speed if you can start up front for the first race. If you win the race, you got to start 20th, you probably need more downforce in your car.
We're going to have to think through our ways of not necessarily does a car that wins on Saturday end up being exceptional on Sunday as well. How you make transitions into where the racetrack goes, where the PJ1 goes, as it gets rubber on it what happens to it. Really excited.
It's a cool racetrack. Three corners aren't the same. You end up compromising someplace. It's really cool for us because it's almost like Saturday becomes almost a practice session where you have data that you can work your Sunday setups around.
Shorter races, it will be pretty interesting. Hopefully you can come out of Saturday with a car that you can re‑race so you keep your inverted position. Guys are doing a good job of preparing the primary and backup cars for the weekend. It will be a challenge to be successful in both days. I think a lot of thought will have to go into Saturday night about what you're going to do on Sunday.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you for joining us. Congratulations on the win. We'll see you at Pocono.
TODD GORDON: Looking forward to it.

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