The Frontstretch: Jeff Gordon on Car of Tomorrow, Virginia Tech, And More ...Q&A From Phoenix International Raceway by Becca Gladden -- Thursday April 19, 2007

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Jeff Gordon on Car of Tomorrow, Virginia Tech, And More ...Q&A From Phoenix International Raceway

Trackside Reports Live from Phoenix International Raceway · Becca Gladden · Thursday April 19, 2007


Frontstretch Writer Becca Gladden was among those asking Nextel Cup points leader Jeff Gordon a myriad of questions Friday at Phoenix. Here’s a sampling of the best snippets from Gordon’s weekly hauler interview, including Becca’s question on how much the track changes from daytime to nighttime will affect Gordon’s run on Saturday.

Q. How are you feeling about the Car of Tomorrow this week?

A. It’s alright. I’ll let you know when we get through today, and then when we get through tomorrow, and then when we get through Sunday. We started off practice pretty decent there and then lost a little bit, but then got it back a little bit at the end … We’re learning about the car each time that we have it on the track. Now we’ve had two races and we’ve learned some things obviously there. And then we’re going to learn because this is a unique race track compared to the other two that we’ve had – the speeds are higher, the travels are different, but (the COT) has the same characteristics it has everywhere else. It goes in, it doesn’t turn in the middle of the corner – it just doesn’t have the grip to carry the speed through the corner – and so you’re just constantly trying to, first, maximize the grip, which is fairly easy to do with this car, and then you’ve got to work on the balance.

Q. How much do you expect the track to change on Saturday from daytime to nighttime?

A. This track changes a good bit. It definitely loses a lot of grip when that sun is out and the sun is intense here. So obviously track temperature means a lot and the cooler temperatures are optimal. We expect them to change quite a bit.

Q. Is the change in the points system with bonus points for winning on your mind?

A. It’s on your mind when you’ve got a guy like Jimmie who’s won three races and you know that no matter where he’s at in the top 10 or 12 in points he’s going to be up front when the Chase comes around, especially if he wins more races – which as competitive as they are, they probably will.

Q. What is your take on Dale Junior getting in Kyle Busch’s car last weekend?

A. I was shocked and surprised that somebody asked him to get in it and that there was even a reason for him to get in it, and that they agreed to do it. I thought that it was very cool though. I think that’s an awesome thing that he did and it speaks a lot about Junior, and the smile on his face getting out of the car said a lot about Junior as well.

Q. Is there anything that Junior, a driver of his caliber, could learn by getting in Kyle’s car?

A. Not when the car is wrecked like that. There wasn’t anything he was learning and there wasn’t anything we were giving up.

Q. Would you do something like what Dale did if you were asked?

A. No, probably not. If I was out of the race I would want to go home. That’s why I say I was very surprised. It would be different maybe if it was Tony Stewart’s car, we were out, and his car was in one piece and he was sick or something and couldn’t get in. Then maybe I would. If I’m going to drive a car I want to do it when it’s running good at a track that he runs good at (laughs).

Q. Do you think anything could be done with the younger drivers to prevent the situation that happened with Kyle Busch last week?

A. Kyle is young and he’s awesome for the sport. He’s a tremendous racecar driver. I feel like 95% of the time he makes good decisions and there are very few times where it gets the most of him. But we’ve seen it with all of us. Maybe it wasn’t as big of a deal with me, but I went through it.

Q. Looking ahead, how do you think the fans might react if you tie Dale Earnhardt’s win record next weekend at Talladega?

A. It wouldn’t be any different than any other reaction they have there. We definitely have a lot of fans at Talladega, but obviously we have a lot that pull against us as well there. I’m not even thinking about that. It doesn’t matter to me where we do it, when we do it or how we do it. I just want to get a win. That’s the most important thing.

Q. Do you have any reflections on life in general in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech tragedy?

A. Any time something like that happens, it’s a wake up call to all of us to appreciate life and understand that things can happen in the blink of an eye that you least expect. Certainly our thoughts are with them. We’re going to be carrying the Virginia Tech sticker on our car. We’ve got a lot of guys on our team that came from Virginia Tech, engineers and other people that work for me, so that’s a school that means a lot to us in this garage. It’s tough to see anybody go through something like that, but especially the ones that you know have a connection to it.

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Becca Gladden is no longer a contributor to the Frontstretch, but you can see all her past articles on herbiography and archive page.