Q. Very seldom here do we see people with a dominant racecar. I think the last time you won here, you were running the Pepsi Star Wars car. You seemed to have a car that could do just about anything you wanted to do with it. What as a driver tells you you've got a really good car at Talladega?
Jeff Gordon: Well, these days with the new car, the new aerodynamic package, restrictor plate, if you see a dominant car out there it's because the guys behind him are letting him lead. They're like, “Yeah, you go ahead, and I'm fine right here because I know when it comes down to the end of this race, all I need is one or two guys with momentum and we're going to drive right by you.”
It's not the way it used to be. You know, dominant performances that I've seen here in the past with Earnhardt, myself, you know, it was just…aerodynamics were completely different, so if you had good power under the hood and you got out front, you could use your mirrors and block the cars behind you and prevent them from getting the momentum it took.
It used to take four or five guys to all get together and work together to make a pass on the leader. And now it's really not like that anymore. Now, you know, it takes two, maybe three to make that pass and that push happen.
So any dominance you see today, it's only by choice of the other competitors. It's interesting that you'll see that. You know, you'll see a guy get up front. I've seen Junior or Harvick, a couple of ‘em, they get up front there, they get the right guys behind them, run that high lane, everybody seems to be content at that point in the race. Away you go. You let one guy lead a bunch of the laps.
But it's really just a matter of laps and time, to get to the right point in the race where you start thinking, “OK, now I've got to make my move.” You're gonna see the whole field spread out and start getting two- and three-wide and start passing, doing all the things to try to win the race.
Q. Did you ever really get comfortable with winged cars? Are you glad to see them kind of on their way out?
Jeff Gordon: Yeah, I was never crazy about the way the wing was mounted on the back of the car. When I envision a wing being put on our car, I envisioned it a little bit more like a Trans-Am car, where it was raised up, more of a cool-looking concept, and also fit a function of aerodynamics, just made the cars a little bit more futuristic.
But, the wing that we put on there was just a glorified spoiler. It sat down on the deck lid. It wasn't very appealing. We weren't really using it efficiently. So, when I heard about going back to spoilers, I was totally fine with it. This car looks good with a spoiler on it. You know, from what I'm hearing, we're going to get more downforce in the car.
The balance is really what we're interested in; how much the balance is going to change versus just overall grip. You know, if it plants the back of the car too much, we're just out of tools to make the front of the car work in turn. But we're kind of hoping that it actually helps the front of the car turn a little bit, too.
So I'm very anxious to get to Charlotte. This test is really what's going to happen in the draft. You're not going to find a lot about balance and those things, plus the spoiler is bigger on this car. When we get to Charlotte I think is when we're going to find out what a spoiler really does in comparison to a wing.
Q. Did you think at some point they were going to alter this design, go to a spoiler to make it look more like the cars used to, what you were used to driving?
Jeff Gordon: You never know. When they were developing this car, there is a lot that went on. A lot of us weren't sure if we ever were going to have this car. When the reality of it came that, yes, we were going to have this car, we really started getting serious about it. When we got serious about it, there were definitely some issues that could only be worked out through seasons of racing and getting out there and doing battle and really learning about it.
I feel like really over the last year, we've really gotten this car dialed in good. I think we've learned a lot about how to make it work well and race well. So, you know, this is a change. I'm hoping and thinking that it's going to be a change for the better. But I'm very supportive of it, open to it.
After going through all the big changes with the car we have now, I realize that anything's possible. I try not to have too many opinions before we go and test it and get into race conditions.
But, the fans seem to be supportive of it, as well. That's important. So I think if it's good for the competitors, good for the fans, then I think it's great for the entire sport. I'm very supportive of that. I look forward to getting it out there in race conditions.