Jul 30, 2014, 1:14 PM EDT
As you’d expect, spirits are high in the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports camp after Jeff Gordon’s win on Sunday in the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis.
To Gordon’s crew chief, Alan Gustafson (pictured, right), that confidence has been building within the team since their first win of the year back in May at Kansas.
But the Indy win has put them on a new level of assurance in what they can do.
“If you look at Kansas, we were good – probably a push to the 4 car [Kevin Harvick], we were about even with him,” Gustafson recalled today in a NASCAR teleconference. “We ended up getting an advantage on a pit stop and ended up winning the race. He was coming hard there at the end.
“But I think [with] Indianapolis, we were the best car and were able to execute all day and win the race. That gives us confidence and that gives us, you know, I don’t want to say added incentive, but just an added feel of ability and confidence in our ability, I guess I should say, in what we can do moving forward – maybe a little bit more than what Kansas did.”
With the Indy win, Gordon is now among six drivers (Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano) that have officially clinched a Chase for the Sprint Cup berth with six regular season races left.
The consistency that had been missing for the 24 team in 2012 and 2013 has been recaptured, but must be maintained if they’re to keep progressing in this fall’s “new” Chase – which now features eliminations after every third race to set up a one-race, winner-take-all scenario between four drivers in the season finale.
Gustafson said NASCAR’s revamped post-season will be “unprecedented territory” for everyone involved, but is expecting that his team will likely have to encounter adversity that forces them to keep their heads.
“If something goes wrong, we have to have confidence in each other and belief in the team that we can overcome it and come back that next week,” he said.
“You could be in a situation where it comes down to one race to advance. You could be in a situation where you have to do it on points or have to do it by winning the race if you have some adversity the first couple races.
“I think you have to be able to bounce back and believe in what you’re doing.”
Gustafson also gave a sorta-take on the suspension of Denny Hamlin‘s crew chief, Darian Grubb, who will be out for the next six races and was fined $125,000 after issues were found with rear block-off plates on Hamlin’s car following Sunday’s race.
While saying he didn’t know enough information to really comment on the situation, Gustafson said the severity of NASCAR’s penalties against JGR caught his attention.
As for those who think the penalties were toothless since Hamlin’s likely to make the Chase anyway thanks to his win at Talladega, he believed that such a line of thinking was foolish.
“This is my livelihood. It’s Darian’s livelihood. I can’t imagine being told you can’t do it for six weeks, how you have to handle that, deal with it, what that creates,” he said.
“Fortunately for me, I’ve never had to go through that. I don’t want to ever have to go through that. I think at the end of the day, people’s livelihoods are at stake.
“This is how we make our living. This is our lives, what we put a huge amount of effort into. To say that’s insignificant, I definitely disagree with that.”
NHRA: ‘Fast Jack’ Beckman earns 5th Funny Car win of 2015; Brown (TF), McGaha (PS), Krawiec (PSM) also win
Aug 3, 2015, 12:24 AM EDT
NHRA Funny Car driver “Fast Jack” Beckman may want to consider changing his nickname to “Faster Jack” because it doesn’t appear he’ll be slowing down anytime soon.
Aug 2, 2015, 9:47 PM EDT
Sunday’s win fulfilled a lifelong dream for Ohio-native Graham Rahal.
Aug 2, 2015, 6:14 PM EDT
Montoyas 42-point lead over Rahal all but disappears in one race.
Aug 2, 2015, 5:56 PM EDT
Sage Karam in the crosshairs again after controversial Lap 66 spin at Mid-Ohio.
Aug 2, 2015, 4:53 PM EDT
Wilson earns first podium finish since Houston in 2013.
Aug 2, 2015, 4:02 PM EDT
Quick thinking from Rahal’s strategists allows the Ohio native to storm to his second win of the 2015 season and slice the gap to Montoya in the championship race.
Aug 2, 2015, 3:12 PM EDT
Castroneves led at halfway due to off-setting pit strategy.
Aug 2, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT
Alex Lynn has made an impression during his rookie GP2 season, but can he make the step up to F1 in 2016?
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McLaren’s CEO feels the reasons behind limiting in-season testing offer a “false economy”.
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Aug 2, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT
Latvala wins on home soil for the second time in the WRC with a record-breaking display.
Aug 2, 2015, 11:27 AM EDT
Big drama in second Indy Lights race of the weekend at Mid-Ohio.
Aug 2, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT
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Aug 2, 2015, 10:24 AM EDT
Hunter-Reay finishes on top ahead of Helio Castroneves and Jack Hawksworth despite crashing his car.
Aug 2, 2015, 9:35 AM EDT
The Italian Grand Prix looks set to remain at Monza beyond 2016 thanks to a tax-free investment from the Italian government.
Aug 1, 2015, 7:00 PM EDT
Mazda Road to Indy and Pirelli World Challenge race updates from Mid-Ohio as they happen on one of the busiest road racing days of the year.
Aug 1, 2015, 6:48 PM EDT
Enerson finally breaks through for overdue first Indy Lights win.
Aug 1, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT
Mercedes F1 reserve driver finishes second at the Red Bull Ring to move into the lead of the DTM championship.
Aug 1, 2015, 4:46 PM EDT
In his third career start in the ARCA Racing Series, Cole Custer breezed to victory in Saturday’s ModSpace 125 at Pocono Raceway.
Aug 1, 2015, 4:21 PM EDT
Dixon blisters previous mark for the track record at Mid-Ohio.
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- Rahal scores dream win on home soil in Honda 200 at Mid-Ohio 2
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- What to watch for: IndyCar at Mid-Ohio (1:30 p.m. ET, CNBC and Live Extra) 0