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NASCAR Media Conference

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stock Car Racing Topics:  NASCAR

NASCAR Media Conference

Jeff Gordon
Jimmie Johnson
Kasey Kahne
Tony Stewart
January 29, 2007


THE MODERATOR: We have Tony Stewart in the media center. Tony thanks for coming in and I guess first things just your impressions of the race track, first time you've been on it since the repaving and rebanking?
TONY STEWART: It's perfect. Couldn't have done it better myself.

Q. You say it's perfect; in what ways and why and how?
TONY STEWART: I don't know if we have time to talk about all that really. Let's go on to something else. It's just perfect. It's really nice.

Q. What were some of the highlights of your time off, and did you have any time off?
TONY STEWART: After being here today for half a day, I realize every day of my time off was my highlight. It's been a bit of a cluster down here today. Obviously there's a lot of work going on down here and crews are doing a lot of work to get everything ready for the race here.
Just I think probably the highlight of my off-season was probably winning the Chili Bowl (ph) probably the best part about it for sure, winning the biggest midget (ph) race with my own car and new sponsor, so that's definitely for sure the highlight.

Q. Can you talk about your training regimen and diet? You look like you're in pretty good shape.
TONY STEWART: It's the same as what we were doing I guess -- when the Chase started last year is what we started. Same thing as we talked about then. Nothing has changed. Just been sticking to it.

Q. The Rolex, a lot of people were e-mailing in about it, how did you feel about the chance you got to race there?
TONY STEWART: The best part about the Rolex was the rain. I love racing in the rain. Everybody looks at me like I have three heads. Andy and Busch looked at me that way. I love running in the rain. That's my favorite experience of those road course cars is being able to run in the rain. I feel like it puts the driver back into it because there's no traction control and all that. So when you have a limited amount of grip due to the wetness, it makes it a lot of fun.

Q. A couple big changes, obviously Toyota is coming in and the Car of Tomorrow is going to comprise about half the races, do you have any thoughts about that?
TONY STEWART: No, I'm still driving a Chevy so that's the only car I'm really worried about.

Q. Does it matter at all?
TONY STEWART: I don't care if Kia comes in.

Q. How about the Car of Tomorrow?
TONY STEWART: I mean, it is what it is. We're stuck with it.

Q. Do you feel like you're stuck with it?
TONY STEWART: Well, isn't it on the schedule? It's something that we're kind of stuck with it.

Q. Sounds like something you're not looking forward to driving.
TONY STEWART: Not really.

Q. With IROQ, is there any chance, progress of you possibly getting into the race El Dora (ph)?
TONY STEWART: I seriously doubt when they cancelled the Iroq race at El Dora that we are going to get a race at El Dora. (Ph) I think that would probably take precedence.

Q. Do you just hate coming here to test; not really pleased about being here testing?
TONY STEWART: We've had a long weekend obviously. It hard to sleep last night because our sleep schedules are all screwed up. I've been tired all morning. I'm really looking forward to taking the rest of my one-hour break during the whole day and trying to get some rest and some sleep.
No, I don't really get excited about testing at all. I never have and probably never will. But you know, it's a necessary evil unfortunately.

Q. They tweaked the Chase for this season, what are your opinions about it? Do you think it's fairer this way and would you have liked it this way last season?
TONY STEWART: It is what is it. As long as it's the same for everybody and as long as the guy with the most points wins versus the guy with the least points wins, the theory is still the same. If you win the race, the points take care of itself. So it really doesn't matter to me.

Q. Were you behind this morning? You didn't come out until like an hour into the session.
TONY STEWART: I got here about quarter after and ate my breakfast and that's when I got dressed. We were not behind as a team. I was probably behind, but, you know, none of us were in a huge hurry this morning. We typically like to let guys get out and get some rubber on the track before we go out.

Q. You've been here in Las Vegas for a few big events, and we are about to have another one with the NBA All-Star. Your thoughts on a city like Las Vegas hosting such a big event?
TONY STEWART: I've never not had a good time out here, so it's a perfect place to host any kind of event. Some of the biggest car shows are here. Just about anything you can think of, this is a good place to have any kind of event. If you can't have fun out here, you're a pretty dull person I think.

Q. Can you compare this track to anything else you've raced on with the new banking?
TONY STEWART: It's so hard to say so far because everybody is just right around the bottom. I'm not sure. It's just so fast around the bottom. We are running ridiculously fast speeds. It's stupid to be running this fast in a Cup car in my opinion. It doesn't make a lot of sense to me why we're running mid to low 29-second laps in a 3,400-pound stock car around here.
THE MODERATOR: Tony, thank you for coming in.
We have Kasey Kahne in the media center now. First question, your impressions of the banking and basically a new racetrack.
KASEY KAHNE: Actually, I thought it was pretty good. I like these type of racetracks. So, felt good.
The transition getting from the straightaway to the corners is something that we've battled with a little bit this morning, trying to figure that out. It can make the back of the car pretty loose. We'll have time to figure that out and now we're just working on it. It's rough in spots, so we have to get through the bumps and imagine it's going to be, you know, probably slowly keep getting rougher as time goes on.
But it was nice. I liked the old Vegas; I like the new Vegas. It should make for a good race once everybody gets out there and gets in a groove and start moving around some. It's going to be a top, you know, middle, low; I think it will be everywhere, so it should be good.

Q. Tony just expressed some concern that you're going too fast around this racetrack; do you share his thoughts that you're going too fast?
KASEY KAHNE: We go fast at Texas; we go fast at Charlotte, Atlanta. There's a lot of tracks we go fast at. To me the speed is good. I mean, speed's good, and Tony is probably the same way, speed is good.
But when you start thinking with racing and you get to a certain point, the speed and what it does to the race, if the track is not really wide and the speed is really fast, like it is at nighttime at a lot of racetracks, it's hard to pass and hard to get going.
Once you get to a certain speed in these cars, it seems like it hurts the race a little bit. When we come back here, if the race is still during the day, I think it is, it usually is. 80, 85 degrees, that will slow down the track and that will help the racing.

Q. How important is this Vegas test compared to other Vegas tests? How can you use this for other upcoming races?
KASEY KAHNE: I always look at the test that you look forward to all winter long, I mean, to me, this is the biggest test of the year, the test that really kind of shows where we're at, shows where the other teams are. You know, we went to Kentucky, we went to Nashville and did a lot of different testing during the off-season.
Daytona is a huge test for the 500, and other than that doesn't mean a whole lot for the rest of the year and Vegas means a lot for 20, 24 of the races we go to this year. The Vegas test has a lot to do with that. It's a good test, and I think it's lot of fun to come out here for a couple of days and test.

Q. What were the highlights of your off-season?
KASEY KAHNE: Highlights were going to Las Vegas -- this is a highlight. We went to Australia for two weeks, myself and my sister, cousins, brothers, friends. Had a good trip over there, had a lot of fun and did a lot of Sprint car races, which was probably one of the best parts of the whole trip to race a couple of Sprint car races over there on dirt. I think that was probably the best part of my vacation.
Just recently we've been working a lot on commercials and appearances and things, photo shoots, getting ready for the season and just relaxing trying to get ready and pumped up for the season. I feel pretty good about it, so I'm looking forward to getting started here real soon.

Q. With the changes in the Chase this year, with the emphasis now more towards winning and as much as you won last year, any reaction to how the Chase will set up?
KASEY KAHNE: I think it's going to be good if I can win races and be consistent. In the past I feel it's been a lot more about consistency, and this year it's going to be a little bit more about winning. But in order to win the championship, you're going to have to do both. You know, that's what Jimmie Johnson does. He's the guy to beat as far as I can see. It will be exciting.
I like the bonus points. I like the extra points for winning the race. You can lose so many points with a bad race whether it's a problem or driver error or just something that happens on the racetrack, you can lose so many points. So it's nice to be able to make up a few more of those points during the regular season, and then the last ten races, you can even get more points for it.
As long as you make the Chase, it's like 15 extra points a race as far as I see.

Q. How fitting or appropriate is a city like this for a track like with this all of the bells and whistles; on the flipside, is there too much hype with the fans, or because there's so much hype and they are only going to be disappointed?
KASEY KAHNE: I don't know. I'm pretty happy coming to Vegas a couple of times a year. You know, last year's track seemed good as a driver because it's slippery, and as the sun comes out it gets really hot and slippery and I like that. But the racing is probably not the best ever. So maybe this will create better racing. Maybe it won't.
It's tough to say. I hope that it does. I think that the funnest time -- the funnest time to drive is when you have pressure late in the race and you've got to pass a car or you have a car catching you and you want to hold him off. Hopefully that's the kind of race it turns into and a lot of drama from late in the race.

Q. When you were making the decision to go back east and go to NASCAR, what were factors that you realized you had to move back east and you could not make in a jump from Washington; and kids that are looking to go into that now, 18, 19 years old, do they have to do the same thing to look for that same kind of career?
KASEY KAHNE: I think the racing in Washington is really good. I learned a lot there racing. But there's more racing in the Midwest. There's more racing, there's more people watching it. Seems like more owners, more interest in the Midwest, Indiana and Charlotte, there's just a lot of interest around there.
For me it was the only way to get to where I am now and things worked out. I went to extra school, got out of school early and I think that was kind of key to doing what we did in '99 and then driving for Steve Louis in the midgets in 2000, which was a huge break for myself, and that opened a lot of doors after 2000.
Yeah, you have to -- you really do have to -- Washington is a great place. But if you want to progress, sometimes you do have to move a little bit to make those changes, make those moves.

Q. We had an audio problem; if you could reiterate what you said about the track and speed.
KASEY KAHNE: The speed is fast; the track is fast. I think when the tracks are that fast, it makes it tough to pass another car. It definitely makes it tough to run side-by-side with the car close to you on the outside. It takes the air off your spoiler and makes it hard to drive. When we come back and racing in the middle of the day and it's 80, 85 degrees out, hopefully it should slow the track down and make it slippery, and from there it will be a pretty good race.

Q. With the Super Bowl being on Sunday and you being a huge Seahawks fan, do you want to see the Bears win on Sunday?
KASEY KAHNE: I really don't want to see it. The only reason why is because I went to Soldier Field and cheered them on and they played great, the Bears played great and the Bears beat them. I feel like the Seahawks may be in the Super Bowl if the bears didn't take them out.
But it should be a good game. I feel like Peyton Manning, it's his time. He's been so good, so clutch, so on top of it for a long time; he's going to be tough to beat in the Super Bowl.

Q. Did you lie like a slug on the couch this weekend and watch the Rolex and what did you make of it?
KASEY KAHNE: I watched a good bit of it. Woke up Sunday and just woke up and watched it for a few hours, laid in bed, flew out here.
Seemed like an awesome race. Two hours to go, there's three cars within, I don't know how much distance, 200 yards of each other or something. It's pretty awesome on a 24-hour race. So I was excited to see that. I guess if you're in the Texaco car, you're going to win the Rolex. That's how it's been the last two years. A good thing for Ganassi and for those guys. It was a good race. I thought it was good.

Q. When you see a brand new track like this and you're going out for the first time, I assume you haven't even been out in a rental car or anything, how many laps does it take to get up to speed where you're comfortable pushing it and going close to the edge?
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, my first lap was at 31.25, 30.88 was the second lap. You need to figure out the bumps and the transitions getting into the corners and how your car is set up. It definitely takes more time than when we go to Texas to race. Our first lap will be a lot closer to speed where I started 31.25 and we're running 29.40s and 29.50s now. It was a ways off. By the fifth or sixth lap, I think we are at a 29.80 or something like that. It takes five, six laps to figure out where you're at and from there it's just making the car better.
We've done a good job. My team has done an awesome job this season to put a new charger nose off the car, so we're fast right off the bat. We're looking forward to getting started. This test means a lot for a lot of the tracks we go to throughout this year, and to be good here right off the bat, I think we can only make gains from there.

Q. You touched on the Super Bowl. We have another major sporting event, the NBA All-Star Game in Las Vegas, what were your thoughts when you first heard that?
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, I just heard it just now. I didn't really know much about the All-Star Game being here. But it's good. I watch basketball. I think any sporting event, any racing event, anything that can be in Las Vegas is a good thing. It's fun to come here for the competitors, for the fans, for just everything to do with the sport. There's just a lot of hype around here and it makes it exciting, and the All-Star Game should be the same way. There's some great players. I like the way Nash and the Phoenix Suns are playing this year. They are pretty tough.

Q. The chassis you won so many races with this past year, have you had an opportunity to shake that down; is that one of the cars you have here and do you expect similar success with the same nose?
KASEY KAHNE: That's actually the car that is our fastest car. I don't know where we ended up, second or third or fourth on the sheet, but it's our best car, today, too. The other car is the car we raced in Vegas and finished fourth. They both have the new nose and we're just messing with different things on each car.
128 seems fast, seems good, I imagine we'll race it a lot. 131, the car that won the other races we're going to race in California. Kept with some of the cars. I don't think we built any mile-and-a-half or two-mile cars. Kept what we had from last year, put some new noses and tested them. We are mainly working on the Car of Tomorrow, trying to get ready for the short tracks coming up.
THE MODERATOR: We have are our reining Cup champion and two-time UAW Daimler-Chrysler 400 winner, Jimmie Johnson. You're probably the most disappointed guy that we've changed the racetrack. Talk about the changes on the racetrack and how you like the new facility.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: I forgot I won the last two races here.
Yeah, the track, I think this is a good move for the racetrack. It's going to put on better racing. The other track was a little bit of a single-file racetrack. So I think the changes they have made have been good. The track is surprisingly rough for a brand new surface on a racetrack. Probably makes the track owners and everyone upset.
But from a competitive standpoint, it will be more of a challenge for the team. I think it's going to be a good problem to have and something that's going to help this track age and give it some character and really force the second and third lane to come in.
It's been fun. The track has a lot of grip and we're just trying to get used to this tire and the new facility. We have to transition to the track and what's going on with it. We made some good progress in the practice session today and looking forward to the second half today.

Q. Can you talk about the Rolex, and I know Steve Letarte was there, can you talk a little about it?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, I had a great time. That event, it's so much fun to go down and one, drive the cars, and two, meet all the top drivers in the world and spend some time with them, and there really wasn't a lot of pressure. There is a lot of pressure for the guys racing for the championship in the Rolex series but for the rest of us, we get to drive a different race car and race against different people you've never raced before or met before, seen in newspapers or on TV, but it really was a great experience.
We got off to a great start and unfortunately I had some problems right around sundown that put us many laps down, and just before the end, we blew an engine. Disappointing from that respect but we were competitive and just wish we didn't have the trouble that put us all those laps down, and we could have been up there fighting for the win.
I'm sure Jeff will be in, but you get sucked in, when the tires are hot and the brakes are warm, you can do amazing things with those cars. But when you leave pit road with cold tires, there is zero grip, you cannot stop the car and you cannot turn the car. It's the opposite of a NEXTEL Cup car. It's something that the tire and the weight of the vehicle warms up the Cup car in a hurry. By the time you leave pit road, the tires are warmed up, and in a Rolex car it takes two laps before you can really push it. Jeff had the comfort of being on a nice warm tire in his pit stop. I know he was happy that didn't cost him anything in the race and he did an amazing job down there. It was nice to see the NEXTEL Cup group of drivers really putting up a good fight and representing well.

Q. Could you just talk about how life for you has changed since winning the championship, maybe something odd that's happened or how life's changed?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: At home, and around through the off-season, everything that went on, there really was not much to talk about. Just same old stuff, really proud of what we accomplished. New York was an experience that I'll never forget. NASCAR does an amazing job of taking you around and have you feeling like a champion should and all of the great exposure that you get.
Through the off-season it was pretty laid back and relaxed. My first exposure to the racetrack and racing was last weekend at the Rolex. There were a lot more fans wearing 48 and a lot more autograph requests and a lot more people around. I've never had that many people around trying to get a picture or autograph or something, so that really was my first exposure to it, with what a championship brings to a driver.

Q. You seemed to learn balance at a very early age coming into NEXTEL Cup racing. Is it fair to say you've found enough to take enough off time that this isn't overkill for you?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: You know, at times I think I'm able to do that. But the schedule is kind of unpredictable in where the sponsors have different things going on at different times, the testing that takes place. I'm lucky because of the off-track duties with sponsors and everything, everybody understands that racing comes first and they really try to work with us in advance and they say, all right, this is something that's important; this we can move around to fit your schedule.
So I have to really thank Hendrick Motorsports and my sponsors and my office as well to try and manage the schedule, to work hard and then get a slow week to recharge the batteries and my patience and all of the things that come along with it.
But these next -- we started with Rolex. This next month up until Vegas, I guess, I think I might be home four or five nights is all. There's that much going on. Then after that, my calendar looks nice and slows back down. Right now it's real busy.

Q. What do you think about moving the awards banquet from New York to Vegas?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Is this a true rumor? Has NASCAR said that we're moving it? Is there any truth to it?
New York's a lot closer than Vegas. But at the same time to have a celebration, we had a good time in New York, I can only imagine how good of a time the champion could have here in Las Vegas.
Yeah, could be bad for some people, too. (Laughter) I don't know. I'll go wherever it is. I think that New York is very fitting for a banquet for a celebration like that. But at the same time, you know, I think things are done really well out here also.

Q. Strip memory, Vegas memory aside from the racetrack, question No. 1. And question No. 2, can you become a better race car driver in the off-season, or is the growth as a driver always happening during the course of the race schedule?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: It's always going on through the race schedule, and I think driving other vehicles certainly helps grow your abilities as a driver. You just learn how to analyze the vehicle, new vehicle and it takes you through some of the basics and also helps you expand and understand the car in different ways.
If you can get into a car that's faster than a NEXTEL Cup car, I think you train your hand/eye coordination, your breaking points. You do things that when you get back in the Cup car, it slows down the speed of the Cup car and that's helpful. That's one reason why I enjoy driving the Rolex car. Even though it's not one of the fastest prototype vehicles out there compared to the LeMans series, but it's still faster than a Cup car, and when you get back in a Cup car, it slows things down and is very helpful.
Strip memory, when I used to race the off-road buggies in the Score Desert Series (ph), we would have our tech contingency, I remember one time it was downtown, but it had views of the Strip in it. To see race cars and race fans lining downtown Vegas is one of the cooler Vegas memories, and we could drive our race cars down the Strip and back to the hotel and that was always fun.

Q. As the reining champion, which I can check there's been discussion about whether NASCAR has peaked popularity in terms of attendance or TV ratings, I know you don't make the schedule but wonder if any of this concerns you or one of those things that ebbs and flows as far as you're concerned?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: I don't have a lot of concern. I think NASCAR has done a great job continuing to grow the sport. I think if we went back and reviewed articles and tapes and questions even from the last thing I've been through was the Chase change and concerns that came along, is it the right vision and right thing for the sport. Then we grew and went up even further and you look at the changes that are coming now, we've got Toyota coming in. We also have the Car of Tomorrow coming along, which we still need to sort out, and I think that's another opportunity to raise more awareness for our sport and get more people involved.
So I think NASCAR has a good vision. They know that they want to keep moving. The package is not refined yet. Our overall sport still needs to grow and in order to grow you need to make changes. As a few years go by, you peak and top out for your current package and then you have to adjust it and try to keep growing it. I think it's just normal growth and evolution that we are going through. I think this coming here there's going to be a lot of interest for new fans with the Camry, like I mentioned, and then the Car of Tomorrow starting to come in, maybe the car appeals to a different fan base.
We are just going to have to see. I know that from a team standpoint and what our vision is at Hendrick Motorsports, we have nothing but -- we see nothing but blue sky ahead of us. And our sponsors are showing that with their investing back into the race teams and what they are putting up in the marketing vision that Lowe's has. They continue to spend more because they think the sport is going to continue to grow.

Q. You touched on it, you have Toyota coming into the series, from what little you've seen of them, how do you think they will be competitive this year?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Well, I really think that they have every chance to succeed in the sport just like any of the other manufacturers. NASCAR makes sure that we all work by the same rules. I think that at least as of now, the manufacturers are all at peace and feel that we have a fair platform to work from as far as the bodies are concerned and also the engine package.
It now boils down to the teams and what teams can put together and how the teams can advance their race cars. We'll just have to see how it goes from there.

Q. You mentioned the track was rough, are we talking like bumps or humps or Charlotte-type bumps?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: There's waves or bumps, and I'm not sure how you describe it. I think every driver has a different name for what they experience out there. On the straightaways, they have some bumps going through the straightaway, and as you get into turn one and you're on the brakes and trying to slow the car down and the force of the banking, the wave on the front stretch turns into some severe bumps going into the corner. The car gets off the ground, it's been real tough to, one, get the front tires on the ground so that they can grip; and two, get the car to work directly through those bumps and be comfortable and carry speed.
I think it's a good thing in a weird way because it allows -- we'll start searching for a second lane and allows teams to really work on setup of the cars to make the performance of the car come around.

Q. Jeff just sat down next to you. Did he give you any advice on how to spend the money or enjoy life as a champion?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Any advice? (Laughter).
JEFF GORDON: Rick, he loves to make sure his drivers are in debt; so the more he makes, the more he wants them to spend. I'll leave that up to Rick.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: He sent me new brochures on airplanes and all kinds of things. (Laughter.)
THE MODERATOR: Jeff, your impressions of the racetrack, first time you've been on it since the rebanking and repaving?
JEFF GORDON: Sounds like I'll say a lot of the same things you've already heard. I like the banking. I like the configuration and the transitions, but it is certainly rough, which kind of like Jimmie said, there can be good things and bad things from that. It creates challenges from the team, and so, you know, if it was just perfectly smooth, you could really have kind of a one-groove, single-file racetrack going here, and that's certainly not what any of us want.
I think with the bumps, it's just going to make it more challenging for the teams, and hopefully make it a little bit racing.
You guys put some Humpy bumps in here, didn't you? (Laughter).

Q. How about that Rolex, how much fun was it for you, and talk about the pit incident and what happened and your reactions to the Rolex and racing in it.
JEFF GORDON: It was a lot of fun. I love -- the cars are fun to drive. They are built for that type of racing. It's pretty amazing really because through that 24 hours, I found myself not being able to get away from it. I wanted to go and rest and sleep but things were happening. We got laps down early on because some trouble that we had with the ignition or some kind of electrical problem. We fixed that.
And you know, yeah, I was a little bit disappointed myself because it's weird, you know, you go out there and you run an hour-long run and it's time for fuel, and I came in, sat on pit road and did our pit stop and was leaving in the pit lane there. It was so narrow, so tight, that I just hustled it a little bit too much on the new tires and boom, ricocheted off the guard rail and I thought we were done.
I thought, here we go, we're going to be ten, 20 laps down because we have to fix something. I ran another hour-long run with vibrations and the hood popped up, the right front fender popped up, and it was quite a mess. And I really thought that that was going to catch up to us in the long run. I was very fortunate that my mistake did not cost us the race a lot of time, and it was so cool to see us make our way back.
It's a good experience for me. I felt like I want to do it again just because now I feel like I understand what it's like and I can be even more competitive the second time. We came close. To be on the podium was pretty cool, to be in the Top 3 in Daytona it's a great way to start the season.

Q. When you guys come back in March, when you get on the track for the actual race, will there be a peel-out period during the race, and how many laps do you think that will last with this new track?
JEFF GORDON: Oh, I don't -- I don't think you'll see a lot of that, no. You know, once guys get through this two days of testing and we run practice, you know, there's still not a lot of an outside groove there. We are hoping after the Busch race and whatever other racing goes on here in the practices and stuff that maybe it works a little bit more of an outside grooving. So by Sunday, we're able to be pretty comfortable, but I think you will see as the race goes on, that outside groove will just start to come in there more and more and lanes will start to form.
You're always constantly learning about a racetrack and how to get around bumps and the transitions and figure out how to get more speed out of the car. That's true for anyplace we go to. I don't think you're going to see guys be extra careful for or cautious just because it's new racetrack, new surface. I think guys will race just like they normally do.

Q. A couple of big changes this year, Toyota coming into it and Car of Tomorrow about half the races; do you have general thoughts on the Toyota entry and does the fact that some of the races involve the Car of Tomorrow make it kind of a crapshoot?
JEFF GORDON: I think as far as Toyota, there's positives. I think they are a big car company that, you know, is kind of breaking the foreign car market into NASCAR, which is an interesting aspect that can change a sport forever.
You know, I think that we obviously know they have a lot of money and technology, so they are going to raise the level of competition as well. But I don't think they are going to come in and dominate and just be extraordinary. I think it's going to take them time.
It's one thing to do it in the Truck Series, but when you look at the level of competition in the teams on the Cup side, we do a lot of our own research and development that is pretty substantial, and you know, I think that there's going to be a time where they are going to -- it's going to take them a little while to catch up, and then I'm afraid when there might be a time when with evident to catch up, so we'll see what happens.
As far as the Car of Tomorrow, that's one of my many concerns of that car this year is that it's really going to change the Chase. There's so many races in the Chase with that car, and that's why I'm excited, the fact that we have done a lot of work with the Car of Tomorrow and I feel like we've got one of best programs out there as that car is concerned. But there's a lot of unknowns, and that's certainly one big one end of the season, it's going to be full of Car of Tomorrow races.

Q. Tony was talking about the speed with the new track, what are your thoughts?
JEFF GORDON: I'm more concerned with how hard the tire is. Give a lot of credit to the guys that do the pave job, the pavement these days, the grip is so good, that Goodyear can't build a tire for us that really compliments the new pavement and new cars. So they are put into a corner where they have to build a rock-hard tires and the tires will last forever. I mean, I've run 20 laps or so, and the tires look like they just came off the truck or from Goodyear. They are just brand new. That's always a concern. We saw that at Charlotte, and it's going to take a few years, you know, really for them to gradually be able to back that off. That's the unfortunate side of new racetracks.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks for coming in, Jeff.



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