Jeff Gordon Reacts To Crew Chief Change, Comments On Alan Gustafson

Jeff Gordon applauded the changes made at Hendrick Motorsports last week, which left him paired with crew chief Alan Gustafson (formerly with Mark Martin) and sent Steve Letarte to Dale Earnhardt Jr.

That team owner Rick Hendrick was willing to make the sweeping changes in the first place, Gordon said, was a sign of what made Hendrick such a great leader.

"This just shows the kind of commitment we have at Hendrick Motorsports," Gordon said in his first public comments since the change. "To be celebrating a championship on Sunday and be making those type of announcements two days later just shows that we never stop or rest. We're always trying to improve.

"You don't make a move like this without hoping you're making all the right ones. I feel really good about what we're doing."

Gordon billed the move as a driver swap rather than a crew chief swap, which is more accurate than saying he got a new crew chief. Gustafson and the former No. 5 team are staying the same, just with a new driver and different colored cars.

"I'm certainly looking forward to working with Alan," Gordon said. "I've known Alan for a number of years, always respected him and I guess in the back of my mind, I always thought it would be kind of cool to work with him. It's a great opportunity."

The decision wasn't Hendrick's alone, Gordon emphasized, and said everyone had input on the personnel changes. Hendrick "understands people better than anybody I've ever met," Gordon said.

Gordon stressed that he "loved" Letarte and that the move wasn't because the team had a down year.

"It's really no reflection of what type of year we had this year," he said. "We put out a great effort this year. Steve, I loved working with this guy. He's been awesome. It's a move that can elevate our whole organization, and that's what I'm excited about."

The Gordon/Letarte combination won 10 races together, including six in a stellar 2007 season (Gordon recorded 30 top-10 finishes that year). But in the last three seasons, Gordon has won just one race and went winless this year.

Now 39, Gordon has said he'll drive for a few more years – but is eager to pick up Cup title No. 5.

"I feel like we're going to win more championships," he said. "Things like this, led by Rick, are what get you there."

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