Saturday, May 24, 2014

Gordon's 600 in Jeopardy as Back Spasms Force Him out of Car Early Saturday

Credit: Charlotte Bray/Skirts and Scuffs
Most Sprint Cup teams spent Saturday morning making their final preparations for Sunday's Coca-Cola 600. One team was noticeably absent from the track though. The No. 24 of current points leader Jeff Gordon sat idle in the garage, its driver battling back spasms.

Now, with roughly a day before NASCAR's longest race of the season, Gordon's start in the 600 remains in question, and Regan Smith remains on standby.

Gordon first noticed the spasms on Thursday, but drove through qualifying and received treatment on Friday. When practice began today, he could only turn 11 laps before telling the team that he had to get out of the car.

He missed the second practice altogether.

"I had a back spasm the other night in that last qualifying run I made and I've been trying to get it worked out by today, and I got in the car and it just wasn't...Luckily the car, the good news is the car was awesome. So I made 11 laps, and it was everything I could do to do that, and I just had to tell the team that I think it'd be best if I sit out the rest of the day so that I can be prepared for this long, tough race that's going to happen tomorrow," Jeff told Steve Byrnes after getting out of the car earlier this morning.

Gordon is confident that he will be able to drive in tomorrow's Coca-Cola 600, which also happens to be NASCAR's longest race of the season. However, Regan Smith remains on standby, in case Gordon isn't ready to go the distance in the physically demanding race.

Gordon admits that he has dealt with back spasms previously, and was able to get treatment and move on. He told reporters that this one felt different, and he felt it was best for him to remain cautious and seek treatment, therefore parking the car for the rest of Saturday's on-track activities. He told reporters that since the car was very good during the first practice (his 11 laps earned him sixth fastest on the speed chart), that the team was not going to worry about putting the car out again for final practice, and focus on small adjustments.

This could turn out to be a very interesting weekend for Gordon, who has held the points lead for five weeks, as he tries to battle a bad back and a long race at the same time. Which will prevail? Will the number of miles be Gordon's demise and force him out of the car tomorrow night? Or will the four-time Series Champion prevail, showing fans why he is one of the best?

We'll just have to wait and see.


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