INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Jeff Gordon’s affinity for the Indianapolis 500 has notchanged.
His plans for running the race have.
The only four-time winner of the Allstate 400 at the Brickyardacknowledged Friday that even if a schedule change made it possiblefor him to race at the historic 2.5-mile oval in May, he probablywould not drive in the biggest race on the IndyCar circuit.
“You have to know the cars and do laps with the cars toknow what you’re doing,” he said at this week’sNASCAR stop. “If say, you wanted to go run around at 210 mph,I could do that, but I wouldn’t have much fun doing thatbecause I like being competitive.”
For Gordon, the lack of an Indy start is a rare gap on hisimpeccable resume.
He has four Cup points titles, third all-time, and three wins atDaytona. He ranks sixth in career victories (82), one behind CaleYarborough. A victory Sunday at Indy would make Gordon the secondfive-time winner at the 100-year-old track, joining FormulaOne’s Michael Schumacher.
While the 37-year-old lists Vallejo, Calif., as his hometown, hehasn’t forgotten those formative years he spent driving innearby Pittsboro, Ind. Back then, Gordon attended May’straditional festivities and dreamed of driving in the 500.
But when he couldn’t land a ride in IndyCars, Gordonswitched to stock cars and found a home.
Even as John Andretti, Tony Stewart and Robby Gordon turned theMemorial Day double—the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600—intoa trend, Gordon never took the chance.
The revised schedule has eliminated the possibility of pullingdouble duty. Since Indiana switched to daylight saving time in2006, the race has started at 1 p.m. instead of its previoustraditional time of 11 a.m. With the NASCAR race in Charlotte,N.C., starting at 6 p.m., drivers do not have enough time to makeit to both events.
The speedway’s new chief, Jeff Belskus, has already saidhe does not intend to change the starting time or day of the 500,and even if he did, Gordon doesn’t believe he could doit.
“I don’t think that’s going to happen as longas I’m running a full-time (NASCAR) schedule,” he said.“As a driver I have so much respect for IndyCars. It’snot like if I had an off-weekend, I would go run 230 mphlaps.”
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