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

 

Indy 500 qualifying: Today’s schedule, TV times, how the 33-car field is set

Indy 500 qualifying schedule
Doug Mathews/IndyCar
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The 33-car field of the 104th Indianapolis 500 will be set through the two-day Indy 500 qualifying schedule Saturday and Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Today’s session will determine the nine cars that will compete for the pole position and starting positions 10-30.

On Sunday, the pole position then will be determined in a Fast Nine Shootout (the top nine qualifiers also received NTT IndyCar Series points).

All on-track activity will be on NBC Sports Gold’s IndyCar pass (click here for streaming Saturday and here for Sunday), and Indy 500 qualifying will be on NBC from 3-5 p.m. ET Saturday and Indy 500 pole qualifying from 1-3 p.m. ET on NBC.

Last year, Simon Pagenaud captured the pole position on the way to winning last year’s Indy 500.

Qualifying speeds at Indianapolis Motor Speedway are determined by a four-lap average around the 2.5-mile track.

Here is the Indy 500 qualifying schedule and how to watch on TV:

Saturday, Aug. 15

5:30 a.m. – Garage opens

6 a.m. – Tech inspection

8:30-9:30 a.m. – Indianapolis 500 practice (NBC Sports Gold)

11 a.m.-5 p.m. – Indianapolis 500 qualifying (NBC Sports Gold; NBC coverage from 3-5 p.m.; NBCSN 5-6 p.m.)

7:30 p.m. – Garage closes

Sunday, Aug. 16

8 a.m. – Garage opens

9 a.m. — Tech inspection

11-11:30 a.m. – Indianapolis 500 practice (NBC Sports Gold)

1:15-2:15 p.m. – Fast Nine pole qualifying (NBC begins at 1 p.m., NBC Sports Gold)

3:30-6 p.m. – Indianapolis 500 practice (NBCSN, NBC Sports Gold)