Gordon has learned to expect the unexpected at Talladega
by ERICH HILKERT
Jeff Gordon spoke with reporters Friday morning and Gordon noted that through the years, he has grown wiser about what to expect at Talladega.

“The first time I came here, I came with moderate confidence because of our success at Daytona that year,” Gordon said. “We ran up front. I don’t remember how we ended up here in that first race, but you definitely have to treat this slightly differently than Daytona because it is bigger, wider, faster and the drafting is slightly different. What moves you’re able to make as a driver, just because of the security the car has here is a little bit different. Over the years, certainly that confidence is built because of our success, but at the same time the cars have changed, packages have changed, how you win at Talladega has changed. We were close a couple years ago and hopefully, we can be smart and make some good moves and get ourselves back in a position. All you want at a track like this is to have yourself in a position to be able to make some of those moves and hope that your momentum carries and you get a good finish and maybe even a win.”

Gordon is second all time in win at Talladega with six wins knows what makes Talladega unique compared to other courses is the degree of unpredictability.

“I think that here at Talladega, the only unknown is when that big wreck is going to happen and what’s going to cause it and sometimes it happens when you least expect it, but you can be assured that you get a full group of cars down to the closing laps of this race and it’s going to happen,” Gordon said.

“It’s just whether or not you get caught up in it or not. Last time, I was here I got very fortunate, they were slamming and banging and cars flying all over the place and we were able to sneak by on the apron in three and four and come out in second or third.”

Gordon made the connection many others seem to make between NASCAR’s two most famous restrictor-plate tracks: Talladega and Daytona.

In fact, Gordon does not see too many differences between the two tracks.

“The only thing that is different is this is a wider race track,” Gordon said. “You don’t have to worry about handling where handling was a bit of an issue at Daytona. You don’t have to worry about that at all here.

“You might be able to push a little but more aggressively and we’ll look at the temps, but I think it’s going to be just as challenging and difficult to jump out of line and to get a line formed on that inside to move up there. It certainly could happen and it could have happened at Daytona, it just didn’t seem like enough guys really wanted to get organized to do it. They were pretty committed to stay in that outside lane so it made it very challenging and I would think you are going to see a lot more of the same here.”

Gordon was able to enjoy Rick Hendrick’s induction into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame to kick off his time here at Talladega.

“I haven’t been to the International Motorsports Hall of Fame event in a few years,” Gordon said. “It was very special to be there with Rick (Hendrick) and to see him honored like that. I know how much effort he and his organization have put into this sport and I know how much it means to Rick to be honored like that and having all four drivers and crew chiefs and many others that have been a part of that success over the years there last night meant the world to Rick.”

On the track, Gordon had a solid first day of practice Friday finishing seventh in the standings with a top speed of 195.277.

“We want to make sure that we’re starting up front,” Gordon said before practice Friday. “It’s not crucial here, but I think it’s important and with what we learned in Daytona, I think track position is more important these days at a restrictor plate race than they used to be.”

© 2013