Four-time Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon, who retired at the end of the 2015 season, is in his first year as an analyst for Fox Sports’ NASCAR coverage this season, including Saturday night’s Go Bowling 400 at Kansas Speedway. Gordon won three times at Kansas Speedway.
Q. How has the transition gone from the race car to the broadcast booth?
A. “It’s been fun. It’s new challenge for me as well. It’s great to be learning all that goes into putting the broadcast out there. I get to work with a great team. Not just in the booth, but the whole group that is behind the scenes as well. It’s like top race team. You look at how they debrief and gather the information and have to work together to put on a great broadcast.”
Q. What has been the biggest adjustment to the job?
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A. “The biggest challenge is to try and compress your thoughts, be precise with them and get on a topic, get your point across and move off of it because you have D.W. (Darrell Waltrip) and Larry (McReynolds) and Mike (Joy), not to mention commercials and pit reporters. There’s a lot going on in a broadcast and you have to find your place and how to blend in and make the broadcast better than it was the week before.”
Q. Because you are still part of Hendrick Motorsports, do you find it difficult to criticize other drivers or be impartial about former teammates?
A. “If they make a big mistake, it’s easy to criticize that. That’s the obvious. I’m not going to hold back on that. But I’m also going to give, not just the Hendrick drivers, but all the drivers the benefit of the doubt and take in all the information we have. If you call somebody out on something they know they made a mistake, they’re not going to be texting or calling me. They’re going to call me or see me and tell me what led to that. I will say it’s tough not to be biased toward Hendrick because I’ve been part of that organization, I have friends there … I love what Chase Elliott is bringing and the job he’s doing with the 24 team.”
Q. How strange is it to see someone else driving the 24 Chevrolet you took to victory lane 93 times?
A. “It was a little bit strange at Daytona when they first rolled onto pit road, but for the most part I’ve been proud of them and are a big supporter of them.”
Q. Do you still have an itch to get back in the car on race day?
A. “I really haven’t missed it at all so far. It will be interesting in the second half of the season when (Fox) is not (broadcasting) and I come to the race track, whether it be with Hendrick or one of our partners or doing things for the tracks, because I plan on doing that. That will probably be the real test. Maybe it’s two or three years down the road when I look back and see if I’m missing it.”
Q. How special is it for you to come to Kansas Speedway, where you won the first two Cup races in 2001 and 2002 and the first night race in 2014?
A. “The thing that stands out to me about Kansas from the first time I raced there was it was a natural fit for me. My race cars, my driving, I just loved how that track flows … the transitions, the way the car loads up into the banking. It changed slightly when they re-paved (in 2012). Any time you win an inaugural race, it’s a big deal. Everybody likes to win the first time you go to any track, but to me, the one that stands out was (2014) against Kevin Harvick, when he pretty much dominated but we got ahead of him after a pit stop. He was running me down at the end and almost ran me down. That was a big win for me at that point in my career when Harvick has been so dominant.”