Gordon Sees Change for the Better

Gustafson and Gordon

“I’ve known Alan for a number of years and always respected him." (Photo: Getty Images)

Count Jeff Gordon among those who believe the recent personnel changes at Hendrick Motorsports will bring positive results in 2011.

Team owner Rick Hendrick’s dramatic shuffling of driver-crew chief line-ups only two days after Jimmie Johnson’s fifth straight Sprint Cup Series championship shocked some inside the NASCAR community. But Gordon sees the end result, which will find him aligned with new crew chief Alan Gustafson as a move that will benefit the entire organization.

“There’s a lot of decisions that went into it, and it’s just not easy,” said Gordon. “It’s bold. Rick, that’s the kind of leader he is. He never rests on his laurels. This is unprecedented really. I think it’s going to pay huge dividends.”

Gordon is looking forward to working with Gustafson who is one of the most well-respected crew chiefs in the sport.

“I’m certainly looking forward to working with Alan,” Gordon said. “I’ve known Alan for a number of years and always respected him. In the back of my mind, I always thought it would be kind of cool to work with him.

“It’s a great opportunity. If we’re going to win more championships, especially with the 24 team, things like this, led by Rick, these type of decisions are what get you there.”

What Gordon didn’t get to was victory lane last season, going winless for the second time in the last three Sprint Cup Series seasons. But the four-time series champion says it certainly wasn’t from a lack of effort from his team or former crew chief Steve Letarte, who will move over to work with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and the Hendrick No. 88 squad as part of the shuffle. 5 24 Shop

“I feel like we put out a great effort this year,” said Gordon, who wound up ninth in the final series standings. “Steve, I love working with this guy. He’s just been awesome.”

Although the pairing of Gordon and Letarte resulted in ten victories a fifth title was not achieved and it remains a disappointment.

“I so badly wanted to win a championship for that kid,” Gordon said. “I love this kid. If you look at how he got that position, he worked his tail off to get there. It wasn’t an easy road. I’m proud of him. … It’s really, to me, no reflection of what type of year we had this year.”

Now Gordon moves on to his new relationship with Gustafson, who worked with Mark Martin the last two years on the No. 5 Hendrick entry.

Hendrick is certain the chemistry and communication between the two will work out and sees big things in the pair’s future.

"Jeff has tremendous respect for Alan," Hendrick said. "Alan is an engineer. He's very technical. There's not a lot of conversation with him. He's very to the point and matter of fact. At this point in Jeff's career, I think that works for him."

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, Jeff Gordon

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