CONCORD, N.C. — Even though Hendrick Motorsports won 18 of 36 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points races in 2007, and even though Jeff Gordon came within an eyelash of his fifth championship, the driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet never liked the winged behemoth that debuted that year.
The lack of brand identity of the car design was something that struck Gordon immediately.
“We had a car (Gen-4) that looked really similar to the manufacturer vehicle that was in the showroom,” Gordon said Wednesday during the Hendrick Motorsports stop on the Sprint Media Tour presented by Charlotte Motor Speedway. “We went completely away from that in every which way, from having a splitter, we had the wing, and we just had this blocky looking car that wasn’t a sexy looking car.
“We made that car (the 2007 car) a really good race car. It took a while, but we did. Now I look at this (Gen-6) race car and see where we’re starting out with this car — and it feels good. It drives good, it’s forgiving, it’s got a great aerodynamic balance… So far, I’m a big fan. I love it. I like what’s happening underneath the car. I like the body style.”
That doesn’t mean, however, that the transition to the new car will be easy.
“Any time you start to get used to something and there’s a change, it’s a learning curve,” Gordon said. “In my opinion, the older you get in this sport, and the more you’ve been around, the harder it is to switch to new things.
“There’s going to be times, I think, that we’re going to be challenged. It seems like the repaves, (requiring) the hard tires, is where I struggle the most. The tracks that are abrasive, where you’ve got to finesse the car, find different lines, work with the team on setups to try to manage the tires in a green-flag run, that’s my strong suit — always has been.”