Exclusive: Jeff Gordon hopes to run Coca-Cola 600 distance after back spasms
MAY 25, 2014 3:15p ET
Three-time Coca-Cola 600 winner Jeff Gordon made the difficult decision Saturday afternoon to climb from his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet and sit out final Sprint Cup Series practice.
The 42-year-old veteran suffered back spasms during Thursday night's final round of knockout qualifying. Despite his best efforts, the pain returned during Saturday's first practice session after just 11 laps.
Sunday afternoon, Gordon climbed into his No. 24 Chevrolet and worked closely with his crew to prepare for a grueling 600 miles at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
"I'm certainly feeling better than I was yesterday," Gordon told FOXSports.com. "The doctors have done everything they possibly could to get me prepared. I feel like we're going to be OK, but you just never know until you get in the car and get in those loads."
Gordon said the biggest issue he faced in the car during Saturday morning's first practice was stretching to push the clutch pedal. The team shortened up that distance, which is something he hopes will help with the pain.
When asked what steps he took outside the car to prepare for the physically demanding Coca-Cola 600, Gordon chuckled and said, "It's a lot."
"Cortisone injections, stretching, ice, tinge units, massages, prayers," he added.
Despite the pain, Gordon has no plans to sit out Sunday's race, which would be his 737th consecutive start in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
"It was tough to get out (of the car) for practice," Gordon said. "I can't imagine what it would be like for the race. I don't plan on doing that."