Gordon expects business as usual at 'Dega

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Four-time champion Jeff Gordon spoke with media in advance of this weekend's Good Sam 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, and had some noteworthy comments on the rules changes, safety, as well as on the death of beloved IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon.

Gordon raced against Wheldon in 2005 in the Race of Champions in France. Gordon teamed with Travis Pastrana, Wheldon competed as part of a Wildcard entry that paired him with Daniel Sordo of Spain. Gordon was asked if a on-track incident like Wheldon's death at Las Vegas Motor Speedway affected him when it's time to get back in the car.

Gordon said, “I know that what we do here especially at Talladega is dangerous and we’re taking risks, but I still feel like we have a tremendously safe race car in our series here. What you saw there, I’m not saying that we don’t have the potential of injuries but its comparing apples to oranges...You can’t sit there and think and worry as a race car driver about some of those less fortunate situations that can happen to you on the race track. You really just focus on doing your job.”

Gordon doesn't expect any more give and take this weekend, saying, "Like I said it’s a separate incident, separate series, different race cars, different race track. I don’t think that makes us race any more cautiously or do anything more different than we normally would do."

When asked if he'd ever felt like he wasn't safe climbing in his car to race, Gordon stated, "Well you know sometimes you don’t realize how unsafe it is until you see how safe it can be. I look back on the HANS device. I remember when the HANS device was first created and I saw somebody wearing it and I was that thing is stupid and it’s uncomfortable and that will never work. Now I can’t imagine getting into a race car without it."

He went on to recall a hit he took at Texas before SAFER barriers, "After you hit a wall with the SAFER barrier and hit one without it, it’s a big difference...That was a time when we were right on the edge with tire failures, we had no SAFER barriers, no HANS devices, no carbon-fiber seats, we had flimsy aluminum head supports and I hit that wall really, really hard and I feel like I’m very lucky."

Considering the rules changes at Talledega, Gordon's only concern is swapping, because of the potential for contact and accidents, as well as the heat factor. "Your engine gets hot and you cannot allow that pop-off valve to go off so you have to switch and you have to do it right then, and there could be six cars coming hard...we’re going to do everything we can to continue to make it work until we get to one another’s bumpers and we spin one another out, that’s when we stop doing it. Then we’ll still do it down the straightaway.”

The "we" Gordon mentions includes teammate Mark Martin, “I’m fortunate. I’ve got a teammate in Mark Martin who is a great drafting partner. He’s as committed as I am to working together and we work well together on the radio and talking through stuff and knowing what we’ve got to do."

Still, he recognizes that it's not always possible to stay with the same partner. "If you lose your guy then basically you just go to the next available option and try to make it work. There’s not a whole lot of picking and choosing at that point.”
Gordon expects business as usual at 'Dega Gordon expects business as usual at 'Dega Reviewed by Janine Cloud on Friday, October 21, 2011 Rating: 5