Four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion, Jeff Gordon, had to sit out of the second NASCAR Sprint Cup practice session today at Charlotte Motor Speedway after suffering from back spasms.
The Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet had a disappointing qualifying run on Thursday and will take the green flag on Sunday in twenty-seventh position as a result of Gordon’s condition.
Gordon commented on his condition, “Yeah, unfortunately I had a back spasm the other night in that last qualifying run that 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. The good news is that the car is awesome. So, I made 11 laps and it was everything I could do to do that. I just had to tell the team that I think it would 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.”
Members of the media asked Gordon if there will be a substitute driver or will they just leave the car the way it is. Gordon replied, “Well, at this point we’re going to have Regan Smith standing by for tomorrow. But I don’t think they’re going to do anything more today. Again, luckily we had a good 11 laps here (in first practice session) and we’ve got our teammates and information that we’re going to be able to gather from them. It’s all coming together very fast right now. It’s unfortunate. I’ve had some spasms in the past, but this one is a little bit different. And so, I just want to really be cautious and take care of it. It doesn’t do me any good to be in the car right now; especially when the car is as good as it is. It’s really about getting prepared for 600 miles tomorrow. I have no doubts that I can be in this car and be competitive tomorrow if I just take it easy over the next 24 hours.”
Crew chief of the No. 24 Chevrolet, Alan Gustafson, commented on how much he knew about Gordon’s back spasms before today. He said, “Well, you know, I know he had some discomfort after Thursday night and he had been working on it, trying to get it fixed up. Really hadn’t put much thought into it, to be honest with you. Then after the first run, we talked about it, it was pretty detrimental to him physically to continue to practice. Fortunately, the guys did a great job on the car, and I don’t think there was much we were going to learn anyway. We’ve been here for a long time. We’ve got a good idea on what we need to race with. Glad the car was good and made the decision pretty easy.”
Gustafson commented on Gordon’s ability to run through something like this tomorrow, “He’s extremely tough and extremely dedicated. I know he’s very competitive and it’s difficult anytime to have to not be able to do your job based on physical requirements or something that’s personal. I know that’s not easy for him, but I know tomorrow he’ll do everything he can to get in and go. These guys go through a lot physically, and he’s done it over a long period of time. His body has taken a long toll. It’s amazing he’s in as good shape as he is, and is in as good condition as he is week in and week out. I’m sure he’ll fight through this as best he can.”