NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
DOVER INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
SEPTEMBER 24, 2010
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT/LAW ENFORCEMENT MUSEUM CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Dover International Speedway and discussed inspection process, penalties, Kansas Speedway and other topics. Full transcript:
PRIOR TO HIS COMPETITION MEDIA AVAILABILITY, GORDON INTRODUCED DETECTIVE DAVID E. SPICER OF THE DOVER (DELAWARE) POLICE DEPARTMENT AND INVESTIGATOR KYLE D. RUSSEL (ALEXANDER (VIRGINIA) POLICE DEPARTMENT AS A PART OF THE TEAM’S AFFILIATION THROUGH DUPONT WITH THE LAW ENFORCEMENT MUSEUM PROJECT. BOTH OFFICERS TOLD THEIR PERSONAL STORY OF BEING SHOT IN THE LINE OF DUTY. AUDIO AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST. SHORT Q & A WITH OFFICERS BELOW:
OFFICERS, YOUR STORIES ARE VERY COMPELLING, SOUNDS LIKE A WAR ZONE, HOW MANY LAW OFFICERS DON’T GET THE RIGHT PROTECTION WITH A VEST BECAUSE THEY CAN’T AFFORD IT OR WHATEVER REASON? ALSO, HOW DO YOU GO BACK TO WORK AFTER THOSE STORIES?
SPICER – “First of all, once an incident happens like this, you have to get back on a horse so to speak. That is what I did. As quickly as I recovered, it took about six months and I got back to work. My first traffic stop I can tell you was a little scary for me. Probably more scary for my family. There are agencies, police agencies across the country, that are small in size and they are not able to afford bullet-proof vests or Kevlar for their officers. A lot of times, the officer has to purchase that equipment himself. More often than not, the vests expire after a certain of time but they will continue to wear them because of money or funding and are wearing expired vests. We encourage, our department here in Dover is not a mandatory vest-wear department. It is still optional and we still have officers that do not wear vests believe it or not even though this happened here, close to home.”
RUSSEL – I can definitely second what he said. I was back on the job about three and a half months after I was shot. It definitely makes you think more about what can happen. You always know that it can, but when it does happen, it really hits home. But, it is the job and somebody has to do and I have elected to continue to do it. I have the full support of my family and everybody. My wife is incredibly supportive. My department actually changed to a mandatory vest-wear policy after my incident. We had not been mandatory-wear. All officers were issued body armor. My department took another step and upgraded everybody’s armor to a higher threat level after seeing how much damage that round did to my vest and how I was injured, they actually upgraded everybody’s armor. Technologies keep advancing and getting better. It is really important that officers have this gear. It saves lives.”
WHEN THEY ARE REQUIRED, DO THEY CHECK TO MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THEM ON? ARE THEY UNCOMFORTABLE?
RUSSEL – “They definitely aren’t comfortable. But I would rather be a little uncomfortable and be alive than be real comfortable and dead. I think the vest wear is about 60%. That is 60% of the officers on the street actually wear vests. That leaves 40% of all officers aren’t protected on the street what we come into contact with every day. If you think about that number it is actually really astounding.”
BEGINNING COMPETITION QUESTIONS FOR GORDON:
GIVEN WHAT HAPPENED TO THE NO. 33, CLINT BOWYER AND THAT TEAM IN NEW HAMPSHIRE, DOES THAT PUT YOUR TEAM IN ANY HEIGHTENED AWARENESS OR HEIGHTENED SECURITY TO MAKE SURE EVERYTHING IS BUTTONED UP? “You have to remember, we have experienced what they have gone through in the past. So, we kind of feel like we were the first ones that were made aware of how tight the tolerances are and I’m not exactly sure of what are all the details of what went on there. I know there is an appeal. Because of we’ve been through this, we already are aware that this can happened to any of us at any time and that you really have to build the best race cars you possibly can but they have to be able to go to that (NASCAR) Tech Center and come back to your shop without the phone call from NASCAR.”
IF A CAR PASSES HERE ON SUNDAY, DO YOU THINK THERE ARE OTHER CARS HERE IN THE GARAGE THAT ARE PROBABLY ILLEGAL AND DO YOU THINK THAT DURING THE CHASE, ALL 12 CHASE CARS SHOULD GO TO THE NASCAR TECH CENTER? “I really wish that I had Steve Letarte (crew chief) up here to answer that question because he knows so many more details about the processes, how close those tolerances are. And that is the difference. Here at the track, the tolerances they can only get so close. When they go to the NASCAR Tech Center, they are checking it with lasers. I think that is when they can really get into the details of everything that is going on with those cars. All I can tell you is that since they started that process, it’s made it a whole different ballgame and a whole different process of inspection and how you build your cars. These days for us, we can run a car and we basically have to rebuild the sheet metal on that car just from a race without ever touching a wall. Without ever being hit by the two truck, anything. The body flexes and moves just from the banking or just from the torque, all those things. So, it’s tough for certain areas of the car to meet those tolerances just after a race. I think what I see with this situation, I guess there was something that they noticed after Richmond and so they focused on that area. If you notice, these cars now-days, they are going down the straightaways sideways. We have obviously learned that putting a lot of side force and twisting, we used to twist the bodies, now we are trying to run the car sideways through the toe of the rear-end housing; how we setup the straight line from front to back to basically run the body sideways on the car and that is all legal. We have all figured out how to do that within the rules. Because you realize that is helping the car, then you want to push everything maxed out to figure out how to get more side-force, more down-force. So, there is no doubt that is going to push everybody in the garage area to try to find out where that limit is. I’m not sure if that is what happened with the No. 33. I really don’t want to speculate. There is no doubt that this is racing and teams are always trying to find an edge. I wouldn’t be surprised I if…they don’t take ever car every weekend. It is hard to say how many would pass and how many would fail.”
THE PRECEDENT WAS SET YEARS AGO THAT THEY DON’T TAKE WINS AWAY. DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHY THAT IS AND DO YOU THINK THAT THERE IS A GOOD REASON FOR THAT IN CASES SUCH AS THIS? “I’m sure there is a good reason. I don’t know what it is though. I’m not really sure. In my opinion, taking points away, might as well take the win away. I don’t know if I have ever asked that question before to be honest with you. I try to stay pretty clear of any discussion that have to do with points, fines, wins taken away. Those are usually not conversations I have with them.”
DO YOU AGREE THAT A WIN SHOULD STAND IN A CASE LIKE THIS? “There is still an appeal process going on. I think at this point, who knows what is going to happen. But, I don’t know. I have just felt like this is the process that we go through. This is what we know goes on in our sport and that is just the way they do it. Do I agree with it or disagree with it? Gosh, I mean I don’t know. I really don’t know. I would have to think about it a little bit more. Like I said, in my opinion, they’ve already taken the win away. I’m sure if you ask Clint, he would probably say ‘Might as well’ because the penalty is certainly very extreme. I don’t know. It seems like to me like there at least should be an asterisk next to the win.”
HOW HAVE YOU SEEN CHANGE IN THE SPORT BECAUSE WOMEN ARE NOW THE FASTEST GROWING SEGMENT OF THE FAN BASE? “No doubt! With children as well as with females. Yes, I’ve seen that aspect of it change a lot. I guess just from certain sponsors and how they marketed their race teams and their sponsorships, I think back to Proctor and Gamble and Tide, obviously they must have done their research and found there were more women watching than what we thought. I think through sponsorships like that, it has continued to grow. I know I do events all the time and I am amazed at how many females there are at those events who are avid NASCAR fans. That is certainly not something that I saw a lot of when I first started. It is definitely something that has continued to grow over the years and it is fantastic.”
THREE-STRAIGHT TOP-FIVES AT KANSAS, DO YOU FEEL LIKE THIS A GOOD TRACK FOR YOU TO GO PICK UP ANOTHER VICTORY THERE? “I didn’t know that, three straight top-fives, but I like Kansas, I know that. I feel like our mile and a half program is really strong this year. When I look at the 10 races in the Chase, Kansas is one that stands out. One that we are looking forward to going to. We ran well at Chicago and it is probably the closest track to Kansas on the circuit. I just feel like other than Charlotte, we have been really good on the mile and a halves this year. We recognize that we have to get better at Charlotte, but I can’ wait to get to Kansas. It has always been a great track for us. I think we won the first two races there. Like you said, the three top-fives recently so, even when we aren’t at our best, it seems to be one of our good tracks. I think we are much better this year than we have been the last couple of years.”
TALK ABOUT YOUR FIRST TWO WINS AT KANSAS AND WHAT YOU HAVE SEEN CHANGE OUT HERE? “You are dating me now. It seems like it was just yesterday and Kansas still seems like a new track to me still. I think everybody wants to go to a new track, new market and win that race. I know that was certainly the case for us, to win there. Excited about that new track and wanting to be the team that figured it out the best and the fastest. We did that. We certainly had a little bit of luck on our side too. I don’t remember the first year, I just know that we had a great battle with Ryan Newman there. I don’t’ know if it was the first year or the second year. When you go to a new track and you win the first two races there, it certainly gives you a lot of confidence there and makes it one of your favorites. Even better (that there are two races there). Are they both going to be in the Chase? (LAUGHS) Can we have two Kansas races in the Chase? I’ll take that too. (CONTINUES TO LAUGH) All the things that have happened there. If you look at the facility and how that community has grown over the years since we first started going there, it is pretty unbelievable. I think now with the Casino coming, that whole area is just going to explode.”
WITH HAVING AN OWNERSHIP STAKE IN HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS, HOW MUCH DO YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT IS GOING ON IN THE CAR? “I like to know what is going on, I do. I don’t want to have too many details because my focus is on driving at that is my job and I don’t want to get too caught up in things. But what happens as a driver, you pull out on pit road to go to practice and you are looking at everybody’s car and you are going ‘Ok, I see something here, I see where their track bar is” and you are feeding that information back to the team. When you get beat, you go back to your team and say ‘Hey, I don’t think our car is as sideways as somebody else’s car. What are we doing to get better in that area? I’m driving as hard as I can. Are we sure that we are maximizing?’ So you question those things. If you question those things, your team is going to give you feed back on what you are doing to improve. So that is why I like to have as much knowledge. If I don’t, I do want people in our organization to know because they need to be able to approve those changes and make sure we are within the tolerances. And if we are not, it is a group effort that we decide to do it and agree on.”
ARE YOU SURPRISED BY THE FUEL GAMBLE TONY STEWART TOOK? “We have a close relationship with the Stewart-Haas team so in talking to them, I don’t think the felt like it was as risky as maybe the rest of us did. For us and our fuel mileage numbers we had, there was no question we couldn’t make or even come close. But those guys had some different numbers so they were doing something to get a little bit extra fuel mileage. Plus with Tony’s track record of stretching it, they felt like there was going to be a couple extra laps there they weren’t expecting.So, they came up short and they certainly are looking back on it wishing they had done some things different. But I don’t’ think at the time they were making the decisions, that they were really looking at is as risky as what we thought it was. It wasn’t even a question for us.”
About Chevrolet: Chevrolet is a global automotive brand, with annual sales of about 3.5 million vehicles in more than 130 countries. Chevrolet provides consumers with fuel-efficient, safe and reliable vehicles that deliver high quality, expressive design, spirited performance and value. In the U.S., the Chevrolet portfolio includes: iconic performance cars, such as Corvette and Camaro; dependable, long lasting pickups and SUVs, such as Silverado and Suburban; and award-winning passenger cars and crossovers, such as Malibu, Equinox and Traverse. Chevrolet also offers “gas-friendly to gas-free” solutions including the Cruze Eco and Volt, both arriving in late 2010. Cruze Eco will offer up to 40 mpg highway while the Chevrolet Volt will offer up to 40 miles of electric, gas-free driving and an additional 300 miles of extended range (based on GM testing; official EPA estimates not yet available). Most new Chevrolet models offer OnStar safety, security, and convenience technologies including OnStar Hands-Free Calling, Automatic Crash Response, and Stolen Vehicle Slowdown. More information regarding Chevrolet models, fuel solutions, and OnStar availability can be found at www.chevrolet.com.