A Chat With Jeff Gordon

ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (November 3)- - After qualifying eighth for the Pop Secret 400 at North Carolina Speedway, Jeff Gordon chatted about the race weekend, the aero rules in NASCAR, the Union 76 Pit Crew competition, and the prospect of his fourth Winston Cup title. NASCAR announced that the new Daytona spoiler package will include a 55-degree spoiler angle (rather than 70 degrees which was the case at Daytona and Talladega this year). This new package will allow a maximum spoiler height of six and a half inches and a maximum width of 57 inches. The size of the restrictor-plate remains at 7/8". The roof air deflectors and forward-facing flange on top of the spoiler used during restrictor plate races since October 2000 will be removed. Teams will test this new combination in January during their scheduled testing period at Daytona International Speedway.

On qualifying eighth at Rockingham:
"Actually, I expected us to pick up quite a bit more than we did. I'm sitting here scratching my head a little bit because it felt like a great lap. I got the thing turned down into turn one and did everything I wanted to do. If I could think of a few ways to go faster-- maybe just squeeze the throttle a little harder once I got back into it-- but the DuPont Chevrolet felt great. We were just off a little bit. We'll see where we end up here and go racing on Sunday."

On the aerodynamic rules change for Daytona and Talladega:
"I spoke to them (NASCAR) at Phoenix and also prior to the meeting (on Thursday) and got an idea of what their direction was. I wasn't there. We had a charity event that we'd scheduled for a while and I had to be there. But I'm happy with what they've come up with. I think it's a good package. It goes back to what we used to have except for (the fact that) a lot of changes have happened since we've run those rules. The last time we ran those rules, we didn't have the springs and shocks rules that kept us from getting the cars way down. Now we'll have the cars more up in the air and go back to the old package. I think for Talladega, that's going to be a lot better. For Daytona, I'm not sure what's going to happen. I hope it works good and we put on a great race. I hope its not single file and there's not a lot of passing. We'll keep our fingers crossed and we'll learn a lot more when we go down there to test in January."

As a driver, how will you adapt to these rules?
"I can go back to driving the way I used to a little bit more. You've really got to think about everything you're doing. You've got to plan your passes. You've got to work on the guy for a while. Now we're back to working the draft and seeing the air and all that stuff we used to talk about. Right now, you just pull out and pass any change you can. You basically just block the whole time you're out there. It didn't used to be like that. I'm looking forward to it being like this."

Approaching the championship, do you notice anything different about your crew chief Robbie Loomis-- such as pressure to perform or things like that?
"One thing that will surprise you about good crew chiefs is that when they're under the pressure, they don't show it. That's how he's been this year. I would have never known that he's never gone for a championship. I know he's been working hard for a year like this. I know when he sees the confidence in the team and that I have in him and just the teamwork and resources that Hendrick Motorsports have been going on, I think it puts him a little more at ease. I'm real proud of him. There have been times when I've had to be calmed down and he's been right there to calm me down. He seems just like a veteran crew chief that's battled for many championships."

How do you feel about your crew and the Pit Crew competition on Saturday?
"Unfortunately it's a one-time deal where there's a lot of luck involved. At the same time, there's skill and speed. My guys, on a consistent basis, do an incredible job of getting us out front. We hope that we can show everybody else what they are made of when the pressure's on. We did some good practice a week or so ago and they had some great stops. We're looking forward to it."

What is it about this crew that makes them demonstrate finesse all around instead of being a bunch of showboats?
"We like to show what we're capable of with actions instead of words. Instead of talking a big talk, we just try to walk the walk. That's what I love so much about this group. They know what they're capable of and they could flaunt it if they wanted to. Instead, they're humble about it and they know it can go away just as easily as it has come. That's what I admire most about them. When you've had a year like we've had, you want to end it on a positive note with the championship. We hope we can. That would be the sweetest part is pulling off a championship. Probably the thing I'm most proud of is the way this team has come together since this time last year. They are a phenomenal group. Their hearts are in it. They have the desire and drive to be Winston Cup champions."

(From Team Monte Carlo - Chevrolet Racing PR)

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