Jeff Gordon Has Eventful Week Leading Up to Coca Cola 600

Mary Jo BuchananSenior Writer IMay 21, 2009

From a back treatment to a go-kart race, Jeff Gordon has had one eventful week between the All Star Race and the festivities leading up to NASCAR's marathon race, the Coca Cola 600.

Early in the week, Gordon underwent a facet block procedure to address the back pain he has been suffering since his hard hit last year in the Las Vegas race.

This procedure is one often used to treat back pain, especially if the pain is caused by arthritis. Gordon's recent MRIs have shown that the four-time champion does indeed have an arthritic condition in his spine.

The facet block procedure is basically an injection of a combination of an anesthetic and a steroid into a joint in the spine. The ideal is that the procedure will provide relief, at least on a temporary basis.

Gordon admitted to being "a little sore" after the procedure, which is a typical short-term side effect. Gordon also advised that he would "definitely take that brief bit of soreness it if stops the recurring back pain," that he has been suffering.

The driver of the Dupont Chevrolet deliberately chose to undergo this procedure the week between the All Star Race and the Coke 600. 

Gordon felt there would be ample time between the two races to recuperate and get back in shape to drive in NASCAR's longest race of the season.

Even though Gordon went through the facet block procedure on Monday, he felt well enough to get into a go-kart on Wednesday. 

In fact, he would not have missed the go-kart race for the world, as it benefited the Jeff Gordon Foundation, helping children in need.

The race was held at Victory Lane Karting in Charlotte. All funds raised from the event will be used to build a Pediatric Pulmonary Lab at the Jeff Gordon Children's Hospital.

"The Children's Hospital is an important part of our work at the Foundation," said Gordon. "We are so proud to be able to help fund and support their medical initiatives that bring specialized care to the region."

Not only was Gordon successful in the go-karting event, but his back held up to the strain as well. 

But the ultimate test came today at Lowe's Motor Speedway, with the Cup cars taking the track to qualify for the Coca Cola 600 race.

Gordon had an early draw in the qualifying lineup. In spite of that challenge, he went out and laid down a good lap, hanging tough in the pole position.

Unfortunately, Ryan Newman knocked Gordon off the pole position. Kyle Busch then proceeded to come in between Newman and Gordon for the outside pole position.

So, Gordon will start the Coca Cola 600 in the third position, right there with Ryan Newman and Kyle Busch. 

And if that threesome sounds familiar, just think back to the All Star Race and know that this race start could be very interesting.

But there was one more event of mention in Gordon's eventful week in NASCAR. Reuters reported today that Jeff Gordon is winning the TV exposure race, as well as leading the points standings.

Brands associated with Gordon, such as Dupont, Nicorette, the National Guard, and others have been featured in almost 12-and-a-half hours of television race coverage.

Gordon's sponsor coverage exceeds the next closest driver in television exposure, Jimmie Johnson, by at least an hour and a half.

The media exposure that Gordon has generated is especially important during these difficult economic times. Sponsors have indicated that they are more likely to partner with drivers who lead in the television exposure arena, thus making Gordon a hot advertising commodity.

To say that Gordon's week leading up to the Coke 600 has been eventful is probably an understatement. 

But this driver, in spite of a back treatment, a go-kart race, a successful qualifying run, and a television exposure extravaganza, has shown that he has what it takes to survive NASCAR's marathon race.

"I'm really looking forward to the event," says Gordon of the Coke 600. "Obviously, I want to see how my back does, but I also think we can challenge for the race win."

With the third qualifying spot and good pit stall selection, Gordon holds a decided advantage for the upcoming race. Now, if only his back holds up he may just get his chance to compete for the race win.


Photo Credit: David Yeazell