JG Online


'Instant Reaction'
Early Summer 2006

When there's a multi-car crash in front of Jeff Gordon, the odds are pretty good that he'll thread the needle and come out the other side unscathed. When the track is blocked ahead of you, there's no time for instructions from the spotter. It's a matter of instinct and reaction.

In the 20+ years I've watched NASCAR racing, I haven't seen a more instinctive driver than Jeff Gordon. His latest escape came in the All-Star Challenge at Lowes Motor Speedway. With cars spinning and wrecking directly in front and behind him, Gordon pulled low and made minor door-to-door contact with the driver alongside. "I kind of saw it happening and all you can do is react," Gordon said. "I was about in the middle of turns one and two and I saw the tail of Kasey Kahne start to step out. I thought that it was going to get pretty ugly and sure enough he grabbed the right wheel and he corrected it and went into the outside wall. I just turned left trying to get away from him. I saw another car spinning into it and Matt Kenseth was on my inside. I don't even know that he could necessarily see it and we collided. Tore his right side up and tore my left side up but luckily it was just sheet metal damage. Some other guys had a lot worse damage."

Gordon's history of escapes in the all-star event can be traced as far back as 1995. When Dale Earnhardt made a bonzai move to take the lead from Darrell Waltrip in the final segment, Gordon backed off and allowed the veterans to wreck in front of him. He pulled left, escaped the wreckage, and went on to claim his first of three victories in the all-star challenge. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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