An unusual problem puts Jeff Gordon far back at Pocono

Jeff Gordon was looking for a good finish in the Pennsylvania 400 subbing for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet when his day came undone. Literally.

Gordon had overcome a pit-road speeding penalty at Pocono Raceway and was restarting in seventh-place on Lap 110 when he had an extremely unusual problem: His right-side seat belt came undone in the cockpit of his racecar.

With no choice other than to slow way down to fix the problem, Gordon fell all the way from seventh back to 27th as he reached around to connect the errant belts in his car. And that’s where he finished.

Gordon was able to get his belts reattached and tightened, but in the process lost a ton of track position.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever had that happen with this type of mechanism where you just plug it in and it latches,” said Gordon. “I’ve had it happen under the old system with the old buckle. I was actually at Sonoma one time leading the race and we went right off the next corner when it happened. I was able to get that one latched.”

Not this one, unfortunately.

“I thought I had it latched because it happened actually on pit road one time,” said Gordon. “And I got it latched and lost some time. And then we were in a pretty good position on the restart and went to take off and as soon as I went into second (gear) and third, just that little bit of a side movement just pulled it out. It would go in and sort of latch, but when you wiggled it from left to right, it would pop right out.”

And that meant Gordon had to fix the problem before he could go back racing hard.

“I knew I couldn’t go down into Turn 1 on these crazy restarts without a right-side seat belt,” said Gordon. “So, I came in under that stop. We worked on it and now it’s good. I have no clue. It’s unfortunate. The No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet is pretty good. … I hate that that happened.”