Monday, October 12, 2015

Right Sides Only: Notes from Bank of America 500 Winning Crew Chief, Todd Gordon

What a difference a day makes! Whether it's looming bad weather or a torrential rain storm, crew chiefs have original plans and a host of contingency plans up their sleeves for whatever ugliness Mother Nature unleashes. Todd Gordon was ready when the rain fell.

"We looked at the weather coming in the weekend ... we had a daytime practice, first practice on Friday, and then an evening practice second one. We made the effort to make a longer run on tires on both practices to see where the balance would go both ways, and pretty happy with our car in both conditions.

"Felt pretty optimistic about what we had in the sunshine today, just knowing what we had for a read in the first practice and how little we changed from then to where we were for the race last night. I love it when we get these tracks that get a little more sunshine and a little more hotter and slicker. That's when this guy to my left really shines his talent. Just a phenomenal weekend. I think everybody on this Shell-Pennzoil team did a great job in preparing, was pretty cool that we came here pretty much how we raced.

"A couple tweaks that we wondered about, but [the car] had good balance because it worked in both the sun and night," Gordon said.

Since teams were able to complete pre-race inspections on Saturday afternoon prior to the bad weather, did Gordon need to make any sweeping changes to the No.22, especially since the race would be run on a green track during the day rather than on a cooler track under the lights?

"We talked about the differences between our setups of what we ran in the day practice and night practice. It was small, it was there, but it was small, but what NASCAR did, they impounded the cars after -- they didn't call the race last night until every car was through tech and back in the garage. They were impounded. Only thing that they let us work on was grille tape this morning just because it was going to be warmer, allow you to adjust your grille tape and warm the motor up. But that was the extent of the changes they allowed us. Really you were stuck with the setup chassis-wise that you had for last night. Fortunately we had a pretty balanced race car and it took the same thing in the day and the night," Gordon explained.

As the pressure builds with this new round, it's crucial that teams remain calm in the face of uncertainty. The No. 22 team communicated well on the radio and in the pits to give Logano a place in the next round.

"I thought we executed a good race plan, and ... there were no issues, even when we green-flag pitted it. I think there was only one time we went a lap down and we knew how close we were and what we had to get. You focus on what's ahead of you, not what's behind you when you come into those situations, and everybody here does a great job of that," Gordon said.

Speaking about how team owner, Roger Penske, leads by example, Gordon said "turmoil and chaos never bring anything good." Rather Gordon opts for continuous learning.

"We learn every week. It's a never ending process. If you ever quit learning you're going to start slowing down, to the point it's -- every practice run you make is trying to find something new, and we'll be on new tomorrow. It's back to development for Kansas and try to find stuff there.

"Obviously pressure is off so you can be more aggressive on it, but it's -- you're still -- every week you try to learn, and to Joey's point, we focus on what makes our race car faster and our balance better, and if we focus on that all the time, we're going to be successful. If we focus on what other people are doing, we're not working on our race car, we're worried about what theirs does," Gordon explained.

It's a fairly safe bet that the No. 22 won't be doing any rearview driving for the next few weeks. Their focus is clearly straight ahead--possibly toward a championship.