June 16 — Four amateur shot video clips of Jeff Gordon’s press conference after his test session at Indianpolis Motorspeedway.
Transcript of Press Conference
JEFF GORDON: I’m very pleased with the results. I was very surprised to see how much rubber was on the track yesterday when I arrived, and just to see how the tires are reacting from a grip level with the car as well as how it’s wearing the tire, heat in the tire. I mean, everything looks great at the Brickyard 400 and go out there and run hard, and tire wear is not even going to be in the back of our minds.
It might be whether or not we can stay out and how far we can push it, if anything. They’ve done an excellent job. I think a lot of obviously credit goes to Goodyear, all the hard work, effort, time, money that’s been spent to make it right, but obviously there’s been a lot of teams, and I have not been one of them so I don’t get the credit, but there’s been a lot of teams that have contributed to put in a lot of laps in here to get it to where it is today.
So thankful for those guys. I got to kind of come in at the end and have the proven great product and just be able to go out there and put laps in, which is what Goodyear asked us to come here to do.
Q. The guys earlier were talking about falloff rates. What did you see, and are you going to be happy with the amount of falloff to make it a racing race?
JEFF GORDON: Yeah, I like to see falloff, and even with as great as this tire is, this track is so abrasive that you’re going to have falloff. I saw falloff, and I like the grip level from the beginning, I liked how it does gradually fall off. It’s not a huge drop. And I felt like it was enough to where it’s going to make the racing really, really good.
I think it’s always important to have a certain amount of falloff so that you can tune on the car, you can change your line as a driver. You still want enough grip to where if you slide off line a little bit, you can recover. All those things I saw while we were here.
Q. How important is it to have a good tire here, a good race here based on what happened last year?
JEFF GORDON: I think that’s why they spent as much time here testing and all the effort has been put in there. I think that this is an incredibly important race to motorsports in general and to all the companies that are involved, especially Goodyear.
Last year was something that none of us wanted to see what happened last year, and I think that it was determined I think probably before that race was over that it’s not going to happen again. You know, I just really hate that Goodyear took so much of the blame because this track is extremely abrasive. This car we’ve seen wears tires more. There’s a lot of things that have contributed to what happened.
Unfortunately Goodyear took the brunt of it, and because none of the other things changing, they had to really work hard to come up with the compound and this tire. I give them a lot of credit for taking that on head on and resolving it.
You know, it is important to have a good race here. There’s a lot of fans that travel from all over to come to this race, and we know how many people are watching at home, and this is an important event, and we want to go out there and put the race on that we possibly can.
Again, I’m confident this year we’re going to be able to do that.
Q. There’s a lot of fans out there that are holding onto their money probably to see whether or not this thing is going to happen and the way we’ve become accustomed to seeing the 400. Can you guarantee that we’re not going to see a repeat of what happened last year?
JEFF GORDON: I can. I will guarantee it. I’m 100 percent confident. I ran this tire as hard as I possibly could, put numerous laps on them. It’s a dead issue. This is going to be a race here it might come down to fuel mileage, it might come down to a lot of different factors, fastest car, not the fastest car, track position, a double fire restart with ten to go, but it’s not going to come down to a ten lap shootout on whose tires can last.
I told Stu Grant earlier, they’ve actually made it too good, it’s that good. And I’m 100 percent confident, and I can promise all the fans out there that if they want to come to the Brickyard and see a great race and be confident that the tires are not going to be an issue, you can trust me. I hope that’s enough for them. But they’ve got it resolved for sure.
Q. You and Tony are one two in the battle, and you both kind of cut your eye teeth around here. What is your first memory of Tony, and how often did you actually race against him before he came to NASCAR?
JEFF GORDON: I don’t ever remember racing against him. I think somebody said that maybe we raced buns at the Hoosier Dome race, the midget race that they used to do there that was sort of an invitational race.
But I knew of Tony Stewart because I remember when I was leaving USAC and going to run stock cars, I know Bobby was one of them, but I think there were a couple others that had mentioned Tony Stewart’s name and said that he had a bright future, really talented race car driver.
So when I started seeing him on Saturday Night Thunder and hearing his name and seeing his name in the papers, then it was no surprise to me because I remember hearing that name.
He certainly has lived up to all those expectations. He’s a terrific race car driver, great talent, and I think this year even shows his talents to a whole ‘nother level, to be able to change teams, be involved with the ownership side of it and restructure and go to a team that really was not that successful and then be able to have the year that they’re having.
It’s not just Tony’s talent on the racetrack, it’s what he can attract. To me that’s how you really measure what somebody’s value is, what their talent level is, and it’s pretty impressive what they’ve been able to pull off over there.
Q. Earlier this week they suggested that maybe cutting some horsepower, 50 or 100 horsepower might help with the tire situation in general. Can you maybe give your thoughts on that?
JEFF GORDON: That’s somebody that doesn’t drive a race car because that’s just absolutely backwards. The more power that we take away from the engines, the faster we go through the corners. We’ve seen it in the Nationwide Series, we saw it years ago at New Hampshire when they had some of the tragedies there, tried to slow the cars down, take power away, and we went through the corners faster.
You know, just because you cut horsepower down doesn’t mean that it’s going to slow your speed in the middle of the corner down, and that’s where most of the tire wear and abuse comes from is how you lean on that tire through the middle of the corner and the corner speed.
I always say, give us more power, because the more power that we’re going to have, the more difficult it’s going to be to control it, and the car is not going to handle as good, we’re probably going to carry actually less speed. But I definitely am very much against taking power away from the cars.
Now, if you take downforce away, you take grip away, you do a lot of other things on top of the power, then maybe, but just the power is definitely not the answer.