I have been a Jeff Gordon fan for 16 years (I was 6). I became a fan because, like me, Jeff was from California and he drives a Chevrolet (I'm very brand-loyal). My question is, why haven't you tried more out-of-the-box things like Chad has in the past, or, better yet like Ray Evernham? If you aren't cheating, you aren't trying. It's hard for a long-time fan like myself who saw Jeff's glory years to now watch him only win one race in two-and-a-half years. He should be winning 10+ every year and it's your responsibility to give him fast racecars. Yeah, 2007 was OK, but you lost to the 48. As a fan, I see Mr. Hendrick on top of Jimmie's box because he knows he's going to win and the 24 is just a field-filler. At least that is how I feel.Steven Reinholtz
Well, I appreciate your support of the 24, and I'm as disappointed as you are that we can't seem to get to Victory Lane, but I can promise you that it's not because we're not thinking outside the box. We're out of our comfort zone and trying new things but I don't feel anyone we race against in the top 25 purposely competes outside the rulebook. NASCAR has said it very plainly that won't be tolerated and anyway, it's just not fair to our competitors or our sponsors who invest a lot in not only our performance but also our reputation and integrity. I mean, we're prepared to push every rule to the letter – if it says one inch, we'll make it one inch. But if it says that, then 0.999 of an inch is too narrow and we won't build it. We don't give anything up, but at the same time, I don't think it's fair to the reputation of the driver, owner or sponsors if outside the box becomes outside the rulebook.
In 1997 to 2004, the rulebook was less defined – there'd be areas where you worked and then NASCAR would either say that's OK or tell you not to work there. Now, they want you to come and ask first, so the mentality has really changed. I feel the envelope was pushed much more by ourselves and everyone else a lot more 15 years ago. These days, I honestly believe that NASCAR does a great job of making sure that we and everyone we're competing against is within the rules.
Hey I watch every race and every lap but one thing I've noticed is that you guys are running so good on long runs and when you make green flag pit stops, Jeff will go back on the track and will have lost three to six seconds almost every time. The two guys I see every week that make up time are the 18 and 48. I want to know if that's something that you practice and how do they almost never get busted? Is Jeff being too conservative?
Great question, Mike, and very interesting timing. We have that data every week – how fast we get to pit road, how much time we spend on it, and how fast we leave – and we're starting to see some trends. I'm afraid I'm going to have to keep a lot of this to myself because I can see a performance advantage coming up, and we are going to practice some new things. But I can promise you that we see the same thing as you and we don't just chalk it up to “Oh, well.” We practice every single area and I think that is absolutely an area we need to work on. Loudon was a perfect example, where we held our own against a lot of teams, but the 18 was still the standout. He advanced his position every green flag pit stop, and we need to work on that because we can't give up time to the 18. So watch this space! I prefer races that go green, rather than seeing everyone pit under yellow. Green flag pit stops enable me to strategize more, whether to short pit and make up time. So I loved Loudon with a nice long green-flag run; it made a nice change from the “run 50 laps and pit under caution”-type races. I was proud, actually of the sport. NASCAR's taken a lot of heat lately about creating cautions for good racing. Well we ran around 200 laps green and there was only a second difference between first- and second-place cars. I think the racing was just as good as it would have been with cautions every 50 laps.
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