NASCAR Nextel Cup Series: Ford 400
Topics: Ford 400
November 18, 2007
`THE MODERATOR: Okay, we're pleased to be joined by Mr.â Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, finished second in points. Outstanding season, Jeff. You're the consummate professional, your thoughts as you look back not only at this race, but the 2007 season?
JEFF GORDON: Man, what a year. It really was an amazing year for me.
To be in my 15th season, and to still be competitive like we were this year and win races and battle for the championship, of course, becoming a firstâtime dad. I mean, to throw all those things into it and to be able to battle it out all the way here to the finish, it definitely was an awesome year.
I mean, we just put together one heck of a total year. You know what I mean? On one side, you know I love the Chase, I love what it's all about and the entertainment aspect of it, and I know it's the best thing for the sport. But when I look at our whole year, it's a little tough.
I'm a competitor. You know, I'm very happy for Jimmie and those guys, but I really wanted it for our team. I felt like they deserved it. They worked hard and did a great job this year. We came up a little short.
But it's been awesome, and there is nothing for us to hang our heads about. It's really been an amazing year.
Q. You talked a little bit about this after the race, the idea that maybe the philosophy of consistency, but do you think that will be the case going forward? Or do you think this is one of those things you'll never see again?
JEFF GORDON: I've always known it's possible for somebody to be aggressive like Jimmie and Chad, win races like they did. You know, you've got to push the limits to lead the laps and win the races like that.
You know, I mean, I think that what makes those guys so good is that they're able to push the limit and not make mistakes. You know, because the harder you push, the more risk you take, the more chances you take of making mistakes.
And so, you know, what they did this year is incredible. I'll be honest with you, I'll take a 5.1 average for the rest of my career in the Chase. I'm pretty sure that will win a few championships.
Just wasn't meant to be this year. Those guys really put it to us. And I think when we look back at it all, the last four races before this one, those guys got aggressive. We probably played a little too conservative. And they put themselves in position to pull off a couple of wins that maybe they shouldn't have. But then they got a couple that they really deserve.
Not saying they didn't deserve any of them, but they definitely got the wins at a crucial time when we got a little conservative. We didn't get the cars to where they needed to be. And those guys beat us, that is the bottom line.
So those are all things we're going to have to look at next year. With the points the way they are, it definitely pays a good on amount of points now to win races. Those are important things but it's always risk versus reward.
Other than trying to make the cars better, being a little more aggressive with the setâups, I don't know that we can do a whole lot more on the racetrack to make up more.
Q. With the guarantee that you're going to finish no worse than second in that, how many chances do you feel like you guys took out there today? And did you all think about coming in and saying we've got nothing to lose, we need to gamble, we need to take chances?
JEFF GORDON: I think it started with the setâup. That's what I'm referencing, is that, you know, this weekend we were a little more aggressive with the setâup, and I think it helped us have a better car for the race.
Trust me, I know everything that's in that 48 Car, I know how he drives it and everything else. I watch Jimmie on the track, and I'll be honest, I really thought that as aggressive as they were being, you know, it was going to bite them.
And I guess I was just a little bit too confident in the whole consistency thing. I thought, that's all right, let's let them go do that, you know, and see what happens.
And man, if they didn't pull it off. So that's just how good they are. So, going forward, we recognize that we're going to have to push it a little bit harder in the setâup and get a little more aggressive with the setâup as well. We've got to have faster race cars.
We know what's there. We know we can have it, because we've seen it with their car. You know I got to on drive a setâup that's going to be a little freer through the corner, but that's what's going to make it faster. That's what I'm going to be working on through the offâseason.
Q. It seems like as aggressive as Jimmie was leading into this race, it seemed the only time he was aggressive was on the first lap when he waited for the points. Then he seemed to settle back. Did you think he was a little more conservative mode protecting what he had here today?
JEFF GORDON: He ran a smart race. When you have an 86âpoint lead, you can do that.
I think that's what I'm saying. You know, what happened was they got behind in the points, they knew they had to be aggressive, and they did. And man, they just went on a streak and a terror. And that's where this championship turned around for them and for us. Then they came in here able to just really be conservative and play it easy.
I think he knew that Newman was going to put up a big fight there at the beginning. We talked about it in the meeting. We joked about it, actually. I told him just don't lift. So we knew that Newman was going to put up a fight.
But those five bonus points gave him an even bigger buffer, and he knew that. So it was probably worth being a little aggressive at the beginning, and then playing it conservative, keeping his eye on me all day long is all he had to do.
Q. You may want to think about this for a few daysâ ââ
JEFF GORDON: I prefer not to
Q. Can you come to terms with yourself that as close as you were this year, you may not come that close again? I mean, this may be the closest you'll come?
JEFF GORDON: Hey, every race, every time you win a race, every time you win a championship you think this could be the last. We've heard Mark Martin say it forever. But I know what he's saying, I know what he means.
You're so appreciative. You work so hard, and you really just never know when it's going to happen again. And that, to me, is the toughest part about this year for me personally.
I'm not getting any younger. I put up about as good a numbers as I know how to put up, and it wasn't enough. And that's tough to handle as a competitor. As somebody that's been successful in this series in racing.
So, definitely you've got to dig deep and find out. You know, I was very committed this year to this team to give them everything that I had, because I really want Steve Letarte to be a championship crew chief. I think he's an awesome guy and deserves it. I felt like we had the team underneath us.
Now I'm just hoping we can enjoy this offâseason and go into next season with the Car of Tomorrow, and the Impala, and do what we need to do to take it up one notch.
I don't feel like I'm done yet, but I know I don't have a lot of years left to be this competitive, either.
THE MODERATOR: Jeff, thank you very much. Tremendous season.
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