Jeff Gordon hopes back problems maintain status quo in 2015

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While he keeps looking forward towards the 2015 Sprint Cup season, Jeff Gordon can’t help but look back, as well.

As in Gordon’s long-troubled back, that is.

In a wide-ranging interview this week, Gordon talked about a number of things, including the ongoing issue he’s had with back spasms over the last several years.

For now, things are okay, the 43-year-old Gordon said, in a story posted by the Daytona Beach News Journal.

Now if they can only stay that way.

“Nothing has changed since last year,” Gordon said. “It’s an ongoing process for me to maintain it.

“It’s not something I’m just going to fix. It’s not something I can do and all of a sudden my back will be healed.

“Other than what happened at Charlotte (last May), it didn’t hinder me or my performance throughout the whole 2014 season.”

As he prepares for his 23rd Sprint Cup season, the four-time Sprint Cup champion is obviously hoping that his back woes don’t flare up in 2015.

Gordon has said in the past that if there would ever be a primary cause that might force him to retire prematurely, it would be his back, something he suggested prior to last season.

However, Gordon and his back are at a point where he’s able to endure things during a race, and then recuperate during the days afterward.

“I never had any intentions of (retiring after the 2014 season),” Gordon said during last month’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Awards week in Las Vegas. “I love the sport. Love being competitive.

“I had a health scare in my back in May but was able to pull it back together and not have to miss that race. … The back doesn’t affect me in the car. It hurts afterward and during the week.”

Among other topics Gordon also discussed in the interview:

* What the Daytona 500 means to him: “The Daytona 500 not only is the most prestigious race we have, the history and all those things that are so obvious, (but) there’s something unique about that race day. We build up to it. It’s different than any other race we have.

“There’s electricity in the air. It has the biggest pre-race show. There are thousands of fans, and you see executives and celebrities. You can just tell this is a different thing. All that tells you how important it is to be at your best and do everything you can to win that race, because it is the biggest race you will ever win.

“For me, even though I’ve won it three times, I feel like it’s only gotten harder. Each year that goes by that you don’t win it … and the rules have changed, the aerodynamics have changed … to me it’s not only the most prestigious race, but it’s also the most difficult to win.”

* Looking back at the first year of the Chase elimination format: “Even though we weren’t in that final four, I feel we did just about everything we had to do to have an excellent shot at winning the championship.

“The only thing that would have stopped us from winning that championship, even if we had made it into that final round, was Kevin Harvick. Those guys were spectacular. Not just all year long, but at the end of the season when it really mattered.

“Those guys had a way of stepping it up and taking it to the next level. While we were really strong, I can’t say we found that little extra bit of added performance like Kevin and his team did.”

Contributing: Nate Ryan

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

 

Houston Supercross by the numbers: Five riders begin to gap the field

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Chase Sexton stumbled in San Diego and Eli Tomac had a hard fall in Anaheim 2, but the Monster Energy Supercross numbers for Houston suggest they will continue to be the ones to beat in Houston. To do so, they will have to turn back challenges from another pair of riders who have swept the top five in the first three rounds and another with a worst finish of sixth.

Houston Supercross numbers
Cooper Webb’s ability to close races makes him a Houston favorite. – Feld Motor Sports

Despite an accident in his heat in San Diego that sent him to the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ), Sexton recovered to score a top-five that weekend. His podium finish in Anaheim 1 and overall win last week in Anaheim 2 makes him one of the three riders with a perfect top-five record. He is joined by Cooper Webb, who finished second in the first two rounds and fourth last week, and Ken Roczen, whose consistency in the first three races contributed to him grabbing the top spot in this week’s NBC Supercross Power Rankings.

There are reasons to believe Webb and Roczen can keep those streaks alive.

Webb is the only multiple winner at Supercross’ current Houston stadium. His pair of wins came in 2019 and 2021, the same year he won his two 450 championships.

Clinton Fowler points out this week, that Webb has carried that strength into 2023. Webb had a late surge in Anaheim 1, advancing from fifth to second in the final six laps. In San Diego, he set his ninth fastest lap with two to go and his eighth fastest on the final lap. He posted his fastest lap of Anaheim 2 on Lap 12 while the rest of the field did so on Lap 6 on average.

By comparison, Tomac set his 14th fastest lap on the final circuit in route to winning the Main at San Diego while he was trying to keep Webb at bay.

With a sixth at San Diego, Dylan Ferrandis barely missed sweeping the top five in his first three races as did Tomac with a sixth last week at Anaheim 2.

This will be the 46th year Supercross has visited Houston and with 55 races the city is tied for the second-most with Detroit.

Jim Pomeroy won the first race in the Astrodome during the inaugural season of 1974 on a 250, which was the premiere class at the time. Houston was one of three races held that year along with events at Daytona International Speedway and the Los Angeles Coliseum. All three venues return in 2023 with the first SuperMotocross championship finale returning to the famed LA Coliseum in September.

Webb won most recently in 2021 in the final race of three held there that year as the series executed a strategy of racing in residencies to limit travel during height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tomac and Justin Barcia also won in Houston in 2021.

Two privateers have started the season on a high note.

Joshua Cartwright and Joshua Varize have each made the last two Mains. Cartwright finished 18th in San Diego and 21st last week in Anaheim 2 – all while working fulltime as a Business Intelligence Analyst at the University of Texas, Dallas. Varize earned a top-15 (12th) in San Diego and was 21st in Anaheim 2 in his third season on a 450.

Michael Mosiman scored his first 250 win last year in San Diego. – Feld Motor Sports

The numbers show none of the active 250 Supercross East riders have won in Houston, so no matter who steps on top of the box, there is going to be a fresh face. That is not surprising since most of the top competitors have not raced at this venue yet.

Michael Mosiman has a pair of top-fives there, however. His best finish was a second in the second 2021 race. Garrett Marchbanks scored a top-10 in his rookie season of 2019 in Houston.

In the 250 East division, Hunter Lawrence is one of the favorites to win the title now that Christian Craig has moved to 450s. Last year he had four wins and nine podiums, but failed to set a fast lap in a race.

The other 250 riders with 2022 wins this week are Mosiman, who earned his first Supercross win last year in San Diego, and Nate Thrasher, who became the fifth new class winner at Daytona.

Jeremy Martin will attempt to extend a record this week in Houston. His division leading SuperMotocross podiums number 65. He has 26 wins in the combined sessions, which ranks fourth all time.

Last Five Houston Winners

450s
2022, no race
2021, Race 3: Cooper Webb
2021, Race 2: Eli Tomac
2021, Race 1: Justin Barcia
2020, no race
2019, Cooper Webb
2018, Jason Anderson

250s
2022, no race
2021, Race 3: Colt Nichols
2021, Race 2: Jett Lawrence
2021, Race 1: Christian Craig
2020, no race
2019, Dylan Ferrandis
2018, Aaron Plessinger

By the Numbers

Anaheim 2
San Diego

More SuperMotocross coverage

Supercross unveils 16th edition of a Ricky Carmichael designed Daytona track
Power Rankings after week 3
Malcom Stewart out for “extended duration” after knee surgery
Haiden Deegan makes Supercross debut in Houston, Justin Cooper to 450s
Talon Hawkins set to relieve injured Jalek Swoll in Houston
Jalek Swoll out for an indefinite period with broken arm
Ken Roczen urgently needed a change
Chris Blose joins Pro Circuit Kawasaki in 250 East opener
Seth Hammaker to miss Houston with wrist injury
Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner on injured list
Injury sidelines Austin Forkner for remainder of 2023 SX
Chase Sexton wins Anaheim 2 in 450s; Levi Kitchen takes 250s
Results and points from Anaheim 2