Apr 21, 2009
By Geoffrey Miller
In one of the best statistical finds of the weekend, ThatsRacin’s Jim Utter noted during his race preview for Saturday night’s race that each of the three longest winless streaks of Jeff Gordon’s career were followed up by two consecutive wins.
That trend ended brutally Saturday night at Phoenix International Raceway.
But despite a disappointing night filled with tire rubs and pit road problems that led to a 25th-place finish, should the No. 24 team have something more important — like the health of their driver — to worry about later in 2009?
Gordon started fourth and looked to continue Hendrick Motorsports’ winning ways himself Saturday night [of course, his teammate Mark Martin stretched the HMS winning streak at PIR to five] but, as mentioned, numerous problems stopped that quest.
After the race, Gordon cited the pit road errors as a problem. Those on-track problems, though, weren’t the only thing holding up the No. 24.
“It just wasn’t our night. We struggled,” said Gordon. “I haven’t been feeling good this weekend. My back is hurting. When you’re feeling like that, you can’t really give good information and feedback to the team.”
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard that Gordon’s back has been an ailment to him, but in the few times he’s mentioned it during interviews and press conferences in 2009, it’s mostly been referred to as a problem in the past tense or one that slowed him in 2008.
But now, we’ve heard that the pain might be affecting him on-track in the here and now.
It’s not a great time, either, to be facing some back issues as a NASCAR driver seeing as the season is hitting stretch where the next 12 weekends will have racing action and eight of the 36 races have been completed.
Certainly back issues can be a hindrance to on-track performance because the pain often just simply doesn’t go away and the movements required in a race car can be taxing over the course of a race.
Of course, this problem might be just a small blip on Gordon’s otherwise excellent season so far, but without a doubt it’s got to be a slight cause for concern.