Jeff Gordon hopes back problems maintain status quo in 2015


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


Kyle Larson wins third consecutive High Limit Sprint race at Eagle Raceway, Rico Abreu second again

Larson High Limit Eagle
High Limit Racing - Twitter

It took four attempts for Kyle Larson to win his first High Limit Sprint Car Series race in the series he co-owns with brother-in-law Brad Sweet, but once he found victory lane, he has been undefeated with his win at Eagle (Nebraska) Raceway. For the second week, Abreu led early only to fall prey to Larson.

The win was Larson’s third straight victory and the fifth consecutive top-five, giving him a perfect sweep of the season after finishing 10th in last year’s inaugural race at Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, Indiana.

Larson started third behind Abreu and Brent Marks but was embroiled in a fierce battle with Anthony Macri for third during the first dozen laps. Larson slipped by Macri in traffic until a red flag waved for a flip by Lachlan McHugh.

Meanwhile at the front of the pack, Marks retook the lead from Abreu on Lap 18. Larson followed one lap later and then caution waved again. Tyler Courtney lost power and fell to 24th after starting eighth.

Marks scooted away on the restart but tragedy struck in Lap 26. Leading the race, Marks hit a pothole in Turn 1, bicycled and then flipped, handing the lead to Larson.

Abreu caught Larson again during the final laps and in a reprise of their battle at Tri-City Speedway, the two threw sliders at one another for several laps until Larson built some separation and ran away to the checkers.

“I didn’t feel like my pace in [Turns] 1 & 2 slowed down a ton,” Larson said from victory lane. “I missed it once there and then I saw his nose in 3 & 4. I didn’t know if he nailed the bottom that well behind me and I think he might have slid me in the next corner, so he was definitely on the top.

“I was nervous to move up there because my car was really pogoing up in the entry of 1. I got up just in time, made a few mistakes and he threw a couple more sliders at me but he was just a little too far back and I was able to squirt around him. Then I really had to commit to hitting my marks – back my effort down a bit to avoid mistakes.”

After leading early, Abreu fell back as far as sixth, but faith in his car kept hope alive.

“I just needed to do a few things a few laps before I did and fix some angles, then my car got a whole lot better,” Abreu said. “I’m thankful for this team; they do an amazing job. They don’t give up on me. I know my car is going to be there right at the end of these races, so it’s just the discipline of being patient.”

For Abreu, it was his third near-miss this season. He was leading at Lakeside in the 2023 opener until a tire went flat in the closing laps and he lost the lead to Larson late in the Tri-City Speedway race. Abreu has finished sixth or better in his last three High Limit races with each result being progressively better until his pair of runner-up results.

Third-place finisher Scelzi was the hard charger, advancing from 17th.

“I had a very specific plan; don’t go near [the hole in Turn 1],” Scelzi said. “It worked out. No one wanted to start on the top. I think I gained a couple of rows there on the choose cone and ran the middle, which seemed to be better than right around the bottom.”

Michael “Buddy” Kofoid in fourth and Macri rounded out the top five.

World of Outlaws star and former NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne was one of 41 entrants, but he was not among the 26 starters. He failed to advance to the Main after finishing eighth in the B Main and seventh in his heat.

Feature Results

A Feature (40 Laps): 1. 57-Kyle Larson[4]; 2. 24-Rico Abreu[1]; 3. 18-Giovanni Scelzi[17]; 4. 71-Michael Kofoid[5]; 5. 39M-Anthony Macri[3]; 6. 9-Chase Randall[9]; 7. 26-Zeb Wise[14]; 8. 1X-Jake Bubak[15]; 9. 8-Aaron Reutzel[10]; 10. 14D-Corey Day[18]; 11. 11-Cory Eliason[12]; 12. 5T-Ryan Timms[11]; 13. 88-Austin McCarl[13]; 14. 21H-Brady Bacon[22]; 15. 48-Danny Dietrich[16]; 16. 7S-Robbie Price[19]; 17. 21-Brian Brown[23]; 18. 22-Riley Goodno[26]; 19. 52-Blake Hahn[25]; 20. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr[21]; 21. 3J-Dusty Zomer[6]; 22. 14-Cole Macedo[7]; 23. 19-Brent Marks[2]; 24. 7BC-Tyler Courtney[8]; 25. 25-Lachlan McHugh[20]; 26. 53-Jack Dover[24]

2023 High Limit Sprint Car Series

Race 1: Giovanni Scelzi wins at Lakeside Speedway
Race2: Anthony Macri wins at 34 Raceway
Race 3: Kyle Larson wins at Wayne County Speedway
Race 4: Kyle Larson wins at Tri-City Speedway